A google search will reveal some interesting facts……
Robert Wilson was born in 1856 in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The son of a leading merchant he could read by age 4 and began school at 5. Continuing in the public school, he was ready for the sophomore class at Princeton when he was 14 years old.
He proved to be an extraordinary language student. While at Princeton, he was able to read the New Testament in 9 languages, and eventually learned a total of 45 languages. He graduated from Princeton University at the age of 20 and went on to earn both a Masters degree and a Ph.D. He then did further post-graduate work at the Humboldt University of Berlin.
Wilson was 25 years old when he determined that he would invest years of careful study in the text of the Old Testament, so that he could speak with authority as to its accuracy.
“I was twenty-five then; and I judged from the life of my ancestors that I should live to be seventy; so that I should have forty-five years to work. I divided the period into three parts. The first fifteen years I would devote to the study of the languages necessary. For the second fifteen I was going to devote myself to the study of the text of the Old Testament; and I reserved the last fifteen years to the work of writing the results of my previous studies and investigations, so as to give them to the world".
For the first 15 years, he studied every language that had a bearing on the text of the Old Testament. He not only became an expert in Hebrew, but learned all the languages the Scriptures had been translated into down to the year A.D. 600.
In the second 15 years Wilson dedicated himself to studying the text of the Old Testament itself. He looked at every consonant in the Old Testament text (the Hebrew Old Testament has no vowels) - about one and a quarter million of them. He made a thorough scientific investigation of the Old Testament text, as compared to other writings of antiquity.
Wilson noted that there are 29 ancient, pagan kings of various nations which are mentioned in the Bible. Their names are also found in the writings of their own lands. The names of these kings consist of 195 consonants. He discovered that in the Old Testament, there are only two or three of the letters - of the entire 195 - that are in question as to spelling. In contrast, in secular literature of the same period, the names of those rulers frequently are so garbled that one can scarcely identify the person. Ptolemy, an ancient writer, drew up a list of 18 Babylonian kings, and not a one of them is spelled correctly.
The last 15 years where spent writing the results of his research. He authored “A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament”, in which he confidently affirmed “we are scientifically certain that we have substantially the same [OT] text that was in the possession of Christ and the apostles and, so far as anybody knows, the same as that written by the original composers of the Old Testament documents.”
Dr. John Walvoord, President of Dallas Theological Seminary, called Dr. Wilson "probably the outstanding authority on ancient languages of the Middle East."
When asked how he accomplished so much he replied,
"Well, you see, I used my spare time. When I went out for a walk I would take a grammar with me, and when I sat down to rest, I would take out the book, study it a little, and learn what I could. I made up my mind that I wanted to read the great classics in the originals, so I just learned the languages in order to do that.
"I would read a grammar through, look up the examples, making notes as I went along, and I wouldn’t pass by anything until I could explain it. I never learned long lists of words, but I would read a page through, recall the words I didn’t know, and then look them up. I read anything that I thought would be interesting to me if it were in English. I got so interested in the story that I was unconscious of the labor–as a man is interested in his roses, and doesn’t think of the thorns. So I learned Greek, Latin, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Biblical Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, and so on."
After many years, I am picking back up the studies to complete my pursuit of a Maters in OT Theology. Dr. Wilson’s diligence, perseverance and love for God’s word are surely an inspiration to me, and a model for those who would seek to be students of the word. In an age that values “spare time” and seeks the “easy button” for our problems, lets strive to be found as good and faithful servants.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 (NASB)