MAHLER, EDUARD (1857–1945), Hungarian Orientalist, mathematician, and astronomer. Mahler was born in Cziffer, Hungary. In 1882 he became assistant to the astronomer Theodor Oppolzer at the Vienna Observatory and, in 1885, assistant at the Institute of Weights and Measures. The same year he published his Astronomische Untersuchungen ueber die in der Bibel erwaehnte aegyptische Finsterniss and Astronomische Untersuchung ueber die in hebraeischen Schriften erwaehnten Finsternisse. ("Astronomical Researches on the Egyptian Darkness Account in the Bible" and "Astronomical Research on the Accounts of Darkness in the Hebrew Scriptures"). He had already written some important mathematical studies, particularly on the theory of surfaces, but his interest turned more and more to astronomy and chronology of the ancient Orient, as is evident in his Biblische Chronologie und Zeitrechnung der Hebraeer, "Biblical Chronology and the Hebrews' Time-Reckoning" (1887) and his translation of and commentary on Maimonides, Kiddush ha-Ḥodesh (1889). In 1896 Mahler went to Budapest as assistant at the Institute of Trigonometry. Two years later he became assistant keeper in the department of archaeology of the Hungarian National Museum and also began lecturing on Oriental history and languages at Budapest University; in 1914 he was appointed professor there. In 1912 he became director of the newly founded Egyptological Institute and, in 1922, director of the Oriental Institute. Mahler explored the date of the Exodus and tried to demonstrate that the biblical data relating the Exodus are accurate in Der Pharao des Exodus, "The Pharaoh of the Exodus" (1896), and in various articles. He wrote the "Bibel-Babel" controversy, on the *Elephantine documents, and on calendar reform. Further chronological studies culminated in his classic Handbuch der juedischen Chronologie (1916, repr. 1967), in which he established the systems of the different Jewish calendars and chronologies in the light of ancient Near Eastern and medieval reckonings. He also provided comparative tables which make possible the conversion of a date in one system to the corresponding date in another system, especially the Christian calendar. Mahler later took up the problem of the Easter date and that of Jesus' death. He was associated with the excavations of an old Roman settlement at Dunapentele, where evidence for the earliest presence of Jews in Hungary was discovered.
Jubilee Volume… E. Mahler (1937), incl. bibl.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.