Johann Salomo Semler, a German theologian, born in Saalfeld, Dec. 18, 1725, died in Halle, March 14, 1791. He studied at Halle, and in 1750 became editor of the Coburger Zeitung, in 1751 professor of history at Altdorf, and in 1752 professor of theology at Halle, where he was made director of the theological seminary in 1757. He was at first a pietist, but became a leader of the rationalists. He distinguished between the canonicity and inspiration of the Scriptures, maintaining that they are divine only so far as their contents are of an ethical nature, that the sacred writers "accommodated" their expressions to the mistaken ideas of their times, and that a just criticism can retain the divine element while rejecting what is accommodated and false. He was however an earnest opponent of deism. His works include Selecta Capita Historioe Ecclesiasticoe (3 vols., 1767-9); Commentationes Historicoe de Anti-quo Christianorum Statu (2 vols., 1771-'2); Abhandlung von der Untersuchung des Kanons (4 vols., 1771-'5); Apparatus ad liberalem Veteris Testamenti Interpretationem (1773); Institutio ad Doctrinam Christianam (1774); Versuch einer biblischen Dämonologie (1776); Versuch christlicher Jalirbücher (2 vols., 1783-'6); and Observationes Novoe, quibus Historia Christianorum usque ad Constantinum Magnum illustratur (1784). He also published an autobiography (2 vols., 1781-2).