The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XIII. The Growth of Liberal Theology

§ 15. Robertson Smith

Public opinion was so far in favour of wider theological liberty that the acquittal of the essayists in 1864 was followed next year by the Clerical Subscription act, substituting a general assent to the XXXIX Articles of religion for the ex animo subscription “to all things therein contained,” which had been required for two centuries. There were similar struggles for freedom in other churches. Scottish theology, which had been eminently conservative, became less provincial as it grew bolder and more critical. In the Free church of Scotland, the biblical contributions of William Robertson Smith to the ninth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica excited a growing hostility from 1875 till 1881, when he was removed from his professorial chair at Aberdeen. But there was a larger public ready to form its judgment when he published his popular lectures, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (1881) and The Prophets of Israel (1882). Freed from ecclesiastical ties, he pursued at Cambridge, till his death in 1894, his original researches into the primitive religions of the Semitic peoples.