MERCIER, JEAN° (Joannes Mercerus; d. 1570), French Hebraist. Born in Uzès, near Nîmes, Mercier was a pupil of François Vatable, whom he succeeded as professor of Hebrew at the Collège Royal, Paris, in 1546. Unlike his master, Mercier was a prolific writer, publishing works on Hebrew and Semitic grammar, Latin translations and editions of the Targums, Bible commentaries, and other books of Jewish interest. Owing to his sympathy with the Reformers during the French religious wars, Mercier was obliged to take refuge in Venice in 1567 and, after returning to France, he died of the plague. One of his best-known works was the Libellus de abbreviaturis Hebraeorum, tam Talmudicorum quam Masoritarum et aliorum rabbinorum (Paris, 1561), later exploited by Guy *Le Fèvre de la Boderie, which reveals Mercier's interest in the Kabbalah and cites scholars such as *Reuchlin and *Galatinus. However, from remarks in his commentary on Genesis (Geneva, 1598), published after his death by Théodore de Bèze, his enthusiasm for later kabbalistic literature clearly waned. Mercier translated almost the whole of Targum Jonathan b. Uzziel on the Prophets; and he wrote annotations to Santes *Pagnini's Thesaurus (Oẓar Leshon ha-Kodesh; Lyons, 1575, etc.). His other works include Besorat Mattei (1955), a Hebrew version of the gospel of Matthew; Luḥei Dikduka Kasda'ah o Arama'ah: Tabulae in grammaticen linguae Chaldaeae (Paris, 1560); Aseret ha-Devarim: Decalogus, with the commentary of Abraham Ibn Ezra, in Hebrew and Latin (Lyons, 1566–68); and the post-humous De notis Hebraeorum liber (1582), revised by another French Hebraist, Jean Cinqarbres (Quinquarboreus; d. 1587). Among those who studied under Mercier was the Huguenot leader and author Philippe de Mornay (Du Plessis-Mornay, 1549–1623).
F. Secret, Les Kabbalistes Chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 208–9; Steinschneider, Cat. Bod., 1748.
[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.