Crawford Howell Toy (1836-1919)


(Harvard Professor of Hebrew and of Oriental Languages)

Following the Civil War, Toy studied in Berlin. Then, from 1869 to 1879, he taught Semitic languages and the interpretation of the Old Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louiseville, Kentucky. His Biblical criticism incorporated new concepts of evolution and an understanding of Christianity as a product of its historical context. After this approach caused controversy, Toy was offered a teaching position at Harvard. Berenson enrolled in his Arabic course in his second year and the lessons instilled in him a deep appreciation for the Arabic language and the stories of The Thousand and One Nights. These studies, though far from the focus of Berenson's activities after he left Boston, remained central to the development of his broader views on art and literature.  Professor Toy composed a letter for Berenson’s Parker Fellowship application (cat. BB.II.4).

See the discussion of Toy in the online exhibition about the early history of the Harvard Divinity School, hosted by the Andover-Harvard Theological Library.