Rev. John Black (c.1778-1825)

When I first began searching for information about John Black, I ran into some confusion. There was a John Black (1768-1849) who seemed to be a good fit[1] but upon further investigation[2], [3] I think John Black (c.1778-1825) is a better fit. Additionally, based on my studies into this person so far, John Black seems to me to be quite a common name for 18th and 19th century Scotland and Ireland.

Both John Blacks graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The older John left for America in 1798 but the younger John does not appear to me to have ever left Western Europe. Further confusion was cast by the fact the the older was a professor of Latin and Greek, while the younger fell into my view because of his work “Palaeoromaica”, a work discussing the role that the Latin and Greek languages played in the formation of the New Testament scriptures.

The older graduated from Glasgow in 1790 and the younger in 1812.[1], [5]

Upon a cursory glance at his writings, he does not seem to write much of anything, if anything at all, about his personal life, reserving his speech only for the topics at hand.

Confusion aside, the University of Glasgow has a section devoted to John Black (d.1825).[5]

At one point he tutored the historian Patrick Fraser Tytler (1791-1849).[6, p.xxi]

“…Mr. Black and papa were continually talking upon learned subjects…”
Patrick Fraser Tytler (1810)[6, p.xxiii]


c.1778: He was born as the first son of Adam Black, a farmer in Douglas, Lanarkshire, Scotland.[3, p.21] He attended parish school in Douglas.[4, p.654]

1802, Apr. 28: He was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Scotland.[3, p.21]

1810, Sep. 20: He was ordained by the Presbytery of Edinburgh.[3, p.21]

1810-1825: He was Minister of Coylton, in Southern Scotland.[2, p.124], [4, p.654], [5]

1812, May 1: He graduated from the University of Glasgow with the title Doctor of Laws (LL.D).[3, p.21], [5]

1825, Aug. 26: He died in Paris at the age of 47[3, p.21] or 48.[5]



The Falls of Clyde, or, the Fairies (Edinburgh, 1806).[3, p.21]


Life of Tasso, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1810).[3, p.21] Also known as, The Life and Translation of Tasso.[2, p.124]

The full title of this work is: “Life of Torquato Tasso: With an Historical and Critical Account of His Writings“.

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

Palaeoromaica (London, 1822).[3, p.21]


Supplement thereto (London, 1824).[3, p.21]


“In this singular volume, the author endeavors to revive something like the wild and exploded hypothesis of the Jesuit Hardouin, who maintained that our Lord and his Apostles spoke Latin, and that the Latin Vulgate was the original of the New Testament. The anonymous author of the Paltcoromaica contends, that the Greek New Testament is a translation of a Latin original, the text of which is not preserved in the Vulgate, or any Latin version in being.”
Criticus (1872)[2, p.124]

This work, mentioned in Chapter 3 of Edwin Johnson’s Pauline Epistles, was brought to my attention by Nick Weech. He asked me if I could throw more light on this and so I’ve authored this article to do just that.

I think it was originally published anonymously in 1822 but has since had John Black identified as its author. It also appears to have been notably controversial, at least enough to some merit attention from English universities.[2, pp.124-125]

“The work was regarded, on its first appearance, as dangerous, and immediately occasioned a considerable controversy.”
Criticus (1872)[2, p.127]

A summary of the contents of the work can be found on pages 125 through 126 of Criticus (1872). On page 127, some rebuttals to the work are named.[2] In 1824, John Black reportedly made a response to these rebuttals under the title “Supplement to Palmeoromaica, with Remarks on the Strictures made on that Work by the Bishop of St. David’s, the Rev. J. T. Conybeare, the British Critic; also by the Rev. W. G. Broughton, and Dr. Falconer“, to which subsequent rebuttals of that publication were made in the following year.[2, p.127]

It is sometimes known as the “Palmoromaica”. Here’s a complete list of the variations of this word that I’ve found so far:
0 – Palæoromaica
1 – Palaeoromaica[2, p.127]
2 – Palaoromaica[2, p.127]
3 – Palceoromaica[2, p.x]
4 – Paleoronaica[2, p.125]
5 – Palmeoromaica[2, p.127]
6 – Palmoromaica[2, p.127]
7 – Palseoromaica[2, p.127]
8 – Palsoromaica[2, p.124]
9 – Paltcoromaica[2, p.125]

The complete title is: “Palaeoromaica: or Historical and Philological Disquisitions: inquiring whether the Hellenistic style is not Latin-Greek? whether the many new words in the Elzevir Greek Testament are not formed from the Latin? and whether the hypothesis, that the Greek Text of many MSS. of the New Testament is a translation or re-translation from the Latin, seems not to elucidate numerous passages: to account for the different Recensions: and to explain many Phenomena hitherto inexplicable to Biblical Critics?”.

Palæoromaica Timeline

1822: John Black’s Palæoromaica was first published in London.[7]

1823: This year gave way to a number of responses to John Black’s work. Here is a list of the ones of which I’m aware:

“Bishop Burgess, in the Postscript to his Vindication of 1 John v. 7”[2, p.127]

“Rev. J. T. Conybeare, in his “Examination of certain Arguments in Palæoromaica”[2, p.127]

“Dr. Falconer, in the “Second Part of the Case of Eusebius””[2, p.127]

“Rev. W. G. Broughton, in his “Examination of the Hypothesis advanced in a recent Publication, entitled Palmoromaica.””[2, p.127] William Orme noted that this response is the most comprehensive of the bunch.

1824: John Black’s Supplement to Palmeoromaica, with Remarks on the Strictures made on that Work by the Bishop of St. David’s, the Rev. J. T. Conybeare, the British Critic; also by the Rev. W. G. Broughton, and Dr. Falconer was published in London.[2, p.127], [3, p.21]

1825: W. G. Broughton published “A reply to the second postscript in the supplement to Palæoromaica [by J. Black]”.[8] Also, Dr. Maltby commented on it in “The Original Greek of the New Testament asserted and vindicated.”[2, p.127]



[1] – Anonymous. “John Black (1768-1849): Biographical Sketch”. Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.


[3] – Scott Hew. “Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae; the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation” (1920). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

[4] – Ayr Bute. “The New Statistical Account of Scotland” (1845). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

[5] – University of Glasgow: International Story: People. (13 Dec. 2017). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

[6] – Patrick Fraser Tytler. “The History of Scotland from the Accession of Alexander III. to the Union” (1866). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

[7] – John Black. ” Palæoromaica” (1822). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

[8] – University of Oxford: Search Oxford Libraries Online (SOLO). Accessed 27 Apr. 2021.

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