Julius Fuerst (pseudonym Alsari was a Polish Hebraist, bibliographer, and historian. Fuerst was born in Zerkow, Poland, the son of a darshan ("expounder" of the Bible). He studied at the University of Berlin, where Hegel was one of his teachers, and at the universities of Breslau and Halle, where he was the pupil of Gesenius. He settled in Leipzig and taught Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic grammar and literature, Bible exegesis, and other subjects at the university there (professor, 1864).
Fuerst owes his reputation to his monumental bibliographical work Bibliotheca Judaica (2 vols., 1849–51, 2 vols. in 3, 18632, reprint 1960). The work is based solely on his findings without taking into account the important research done in the field by his contemporary M. Steinschneider. His history of the Karaites, Geschichte des Karaeerthums (3 vols., 1862–69), was superseded by later works, even by the time of its publication. Fuerst also wrote Lehrgebaeude der aramaeischen Idiome (1835), Ḥaruzei Peninim (1836), Oẓar Leshon ha-Kodesh (1837–40), a revision of Buxtorf’s Bible concordance in collaboration with Franz Delitzsch, and Hebraeisches und Chaldaeisches Handwoerterbuch ueber das Alte Testament (2 vols., 1851–61), with the supplement Zur Geschichte der Hebraeischen Lexicographie (18673; translated into English by S. Davidson, A Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament). He translated Saadiah Gaon's Emunot ve-De’ot into German (1845), and wrote a comprehensive history of Hebrew literature, Geschichte der juedischen Literatur und des juedisch-hellenistischen Schrifttums (2 vols., 1867–70); Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Ueberlieferungen in Talmud und Midrasch (1868); and several Hebrew–Aramaic dictionaries and grammars. He collaborated with L. Zunz and also worked on the publication of an edition of the Bible, Illustrierte Prachtbibel (1874), comprising 24 books with German translation and explanatory notes. He was a close friend of Franz Delitzsch, whom he assisted in writing his work on the history of Jewish poetry.
Fuerst founded and edited the weekly magazine Orient (1840–52), in whose scientific supplement Literaturblatt des Orients many of his scientific articles were published. Although most of Fuerst’s works are by now obsolete, he is thought to be one of the forerunners of scientific research in all branches of Judaic studies. His library was bequeathed to the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin.
M. Steinschneider, in: HB, 13 (1873), 140; Fuenn, Keneset, 438–40; W. Schochow, Deutsch-juedische Geschichtswissenschaft (1969), 286–7.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.