BUXTORF, JOHANNES (I)°


BUXTORF, JOHANNES (I)° (1564–1629), Hebraist, professor of Hebrew at the University of Basle. He was also called "the elder," or "the father" (to distinguish him from his son Johannes Buxtorf II). Buxtorf devoted himself to compiling an edition of the Hebrew Bible with the Aramaic Targum, Masoretic Text, and the most important Jewish commentaries. He employed two Jewish scholars for this work. Buxtorf secured the right of residence for scholars from the Basle authorities, since, at that time, no Jews were allowed to live there. Buxtorf contended that the masoretic vocalization and cantillation marks are of very ancient origin. He also accepted Elijah *Levita's conception that the Hebrew canon was the product of Ezra and the men of the great assembly. His Bible research brought him into the field of rabbinical literature, of which he possessed a rich collection. He maintained a correspondence with Jewish scholars in Germany, Holland, and Constantinople as well as with non-Jewish Hebrew scholars. Many of his letters are preserved at the library of the University of Basle and are an important source for the study of the spiritual conditions of his time. His famous Hebraic library, which was supplemented by his son and grandsons, became part of the Basle Public Library (1705). Among his most important works are (1) a Hebrew textbook (Praeceptiones Grammaticae Hebraicae, 1605), which ran into 16 editions, one of them in English translation (London, 1656); (2) several Hebrew vocabularies and lexicons: Lexicon Hebraicum et Chaldaicum (1607), Concordantiae Bibliorum Hebraicae (1632), Lexicon Chaldaicum Talmudicum completed by his son (1640) which, although unreliable, served for generations as a guide for Christian scholars in their Jewish studies; (3) a catalog of his Hebrew books (with 324 entries); (4) a treatise on Hebrew abbreviations; and (5) a collection of over 100 Hebrew letters of medieval scholars (Institutio Epistolaris Hebraica, 1610). Buxtorf's attitude toward the Jews, as voiced in his work Juden Schuel (1603), was negative. This book enjoyed several editions and was known in its Latin version by the name Synagoga Judaica.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

E.F. Kautzsch, Johannes Buxtorf der Aeltere (1879); Steinschneider, Handbuch, 28ff.; idem, in: ZHB, 2 (1897), 94; Fuerst, Bibliotheca, 1 pt. 1 (1863), 138; Herzog-Hauck, 3 (1897), 612–4.

[Zvi Avneri]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.