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Christian Hebraists

HEBRAISTS, CHRISTIAN (1100–1890). Factors governing gentile enterprises in Hebrew scholarship prior to the latest phase of more widespread secular attitudes may be distinguished as (1) motivation; (2) scholarly facilities; and (3) occasion; appreciation and assessment of these ought to suffice to set the achievements of gentile Hebraists in the context of the cultural background, including economics, geography, and politico-religious history relevant in each case. Such considerations ought to precede the arbitrary division into chronological periods. Since, however, time and place cannot be ignored, the section numbers that follow will be used for reference back.

(1) Motivation. (a) Study of the "Old" Testament and of New Testament origins and presuppositions. It was generally assumed that the Latin Bible (in whatever textform lay before the scholar) corresponded exactly, or at least virtually, with the Hebrew original; but (aa) in the later Middle Ages it was occasionally glimpsed, and from Erasmus' time more frequently appreciated, that the Hebrew Bible and its primary versions each have their own internal text history. (b) Christian commitment to self-identification with the religious experience of Jesus, the apostles and the early Church, which had been formed by reaction to the Hebrew Bible, the institutions, and at first also the language of the Synagogue. This sometimes led to (bb) interest in post-biblical Jewish institutions and their exploration through verbal contacts with Jews and later from literary sources. The synchronistic assumptions of traditional Judaism regarding the coevality from Sinai of the Pentateuch and the institutional elaboration of Jewish life at its contemporary phase of development (as the modern scholar would consider it) were not questioned, except insofar as the Gospels may obliquely query them. The Christian student thus regarded his Jewish informants as an organically living, though theologically fossilized specimen of the personal, domestic, social, jurisprudential, ethical, and speculative realities of ancient Ereẓ Israel. Curiosity was often aroused by the presence of a vigorous Jewish life as an enclave within Christendom and in part independent of its presuppositions. This also acted as a spur to (c) missionary activity toward the Jews, expressed not only in preaching but (cc) by engagement in controversial disputations. This could easily slip into (d) antisemitism, and the unscrupulous exploitation of rabbinic literature for purposes of anti-Jewish propaganda. (e) The revival of learning in the West, and a religious humanism, discovered anew the notion of the classical language and its literature, and as explained more fully below could accommodate Hebrew within the same intellectual approach. Finally, there is (f) incipient Orientalism, and the exploitation of the Semitic versions of the Bible both as a bridge to the vocabulary, etc., of the cognate languages and as themselves affording tools for the understanding of biblical and post-biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. Archaeological interest, which arose only recently, belongs in this category; its predecessor, the antiquarianism of pilgrim and traveler, falls properly within (b).

(2) Facilities for Scholarship. (a) The availability of sources of information regarding Hebrew, Jews, and Judaism of a traditional, approved, and so scholastically recognized caliber, either scattered through the patristic writings, the greatest of which were read and reread throughout the western Church, or encyclopedically arranged. (aa) The invention of printing affected not only the availability of these but also the diffusion of post-scholastic tools – grammars and dictionaries of Hebrew – that could supersede them. (b) The availability of teachers of Hebrew, locally or through migration or invitation: either Jews (who, though unsystematic, were mostly learned in their "lore"), or apostate Jews, or gentiles who had achieved a real competence. (c) Finally, institutions with libraries and endowments: originally the monasteries and the mendicant orders, and later the colleges and universities, ex hypothesi institutions for professed Christians, but at the latest stage sometimes modified so as to accept Jews as students and as teachers de jure.

(3) Occasion, i.e., individual or mass movement and its consequences in interaction. (a) Medieval Christian scholars migrated from northern Europe, especially to Italy and Spain, in search of learning. (b) Jewish scholars and informants moved on, driven by persecution, expulsion, or economic stress, but (bb) sometimes for less urgent causes, and occasionally with a preparedness to accept Christian baptism. (c) Conquests, treaties, revolutions, ecclesiastical settlement or realignment, or liberalizing reform, frequently forced (and occasionally attracted) large-scale movements of Jews. (d) A common language for Jewish tutor and gentile pupil (e.g., Norman French, or English), or mutual intelligibility through closeness of their respective dialects (e.g., Judeo-German and High German, or (Judeo-) Spanish and Latin).

The 12th Century

During the first Christian millennium the Church produced two substantial Hebraists, *Origen and *Jerome (i.e., Hieronymus), whose biblical commentaries were widely read. These, together with *Philo and *Josephus, constituted the basic sources of information on Hebrew and Jewish matters, their data often being taken over unacknowledged. Of the two streams of transmission one was encyclopedic and the other exegetical. Isidore of Seville (seventh century) drew heavily on Jerome in his Etymologies, which became the standard work of reference, being utilized in particular by Bede (d. 735) and successively by Hrabanus Maurus and the latter's pupil Walafrid Strabo (c. 808–49). The exegetical tradition is likewise one of plagiarization of the standard Christian commentaries on each book of the Bible.

By the early 12th century this material was being digested, often so succinctly as to reach almost catchword proportions, in the gloss that was becoming a marginal and interlinear accompaniment to manuscripts of the Latin Bible. The gloss also incorporated some matter taken from the encyclopedic stream, and was itself a literary undertaking suggested by the glossation of the standard Western authorities in medicine and law. It seems highly probable that this Christian technique of dealing with voluminous material reckoned to give the "approved" interpretation of an authoritative text was deliberately adopted by *Rashi (1030–1105) as the model for his own succinct running commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud.

Rashi's commentaries, which spread rapidly and with acclaim from the Rhineland over Jewish Europe, constitute the first important occasion for a fresh advance in gentile Hebraism. They were not pitched at a specialist rabbinic readership, but were meant for the ordinary educated Jew, and it was generally the latter (or his apostate mutation) rather than the professional rabbi to whom the Christian student turned for help. Northern France, particularly Paris and its environs, formed the locale, and "Romance" the lingua franca, as testified by the Cistercian Stephen Harding (d. 1134). Motivation (1, a) was central, but (1, cc) was also operative; for religious controversy with the Synagogue, actively prosecuted by the early Church, had revived in Carolingian times. It stimulated a Jewish apologetic in the commentaries of Rashi and his successors, but little of substance is known about the Christian side in these early public disputations.

Christian initiative came from the abbey of St. Victor, 1110, and its daughter house in England, Wigmore. Hugh of St. Victor, who taught in Paris from about 1125 until 1141, set himself the task of rehabilitating the literal-historical sense of Scripture that had traditionally in Christian exegesis been reckoned the mere handmaid of allegory. His endeavor brought him to the Jews, and to the fallacious assumption – shared by his successors – that all interpretation deriving immediately from Jewish sources must, ex hypothesi, be "literal," including midrashic assertions which the Jews themselves would not have regarded too seriously as "facts": for the bare "letter" of Scripture was all that the Jews were deemed to possess. Hugh consulted them regarding their understanding of the Prophets; he also learned some Hebrew, sometimes preferring a literal Latin translation to the established Vulgate reading. Deriving his knowledge from oral informants, he quoted matter found in Rashi, Joseph *Kara, and *Samuel b. Meir (Rashbam). Hugh's pupil *Andrew, an Englishman, was likewise dependent on oral sources, whereas the latter's own pupil, Herbert of Bosham, who was still using oral informants, could clearly read Rashi for himself. But Bosham's commentary on Psalms never circulated. Andrew's extensive works, which cover the Pentateuch and utilized matter from his contemporary Joseph *Bekhor Shor, were widely read in monastic libraries in England and France. They were not only exploited by *Nicholas de Lyre (see below), but were plagiarized by Peter the Digester, author of the standard medieval Historia Scholastica, and by preachers (e.g., Archbishop Stephen Langton) whose sermons circulated widely in written form.

During the 12th and 13th centuries Christian scholars were prosecuting their search for the philosophical and scientific texts of Greek antiquity and late antiquity in Italy, Sicily, southern France, and Spain. This sometimes brought them to Jewish interpreters, or to Hebrew versions of Aristotle and others made from the Arabic; but their concern with the intermediate Hebrew was incidental only, except insofar as it related to *Maimonides and – later on – other philosophers of Judaism who had written in Arabic and had been translated into Hebrew. It is a fair assumption – but no more – that the Latin-speaking translators of these Arabic texts, such as Gundissalinus, would have acquired some Hebrew alongside their study of Arabic. But in those cases where they were either dependent on a Hebrew version, or were collating one with its antecedent Arabic, they may very well have relied entirely on a Jewish collaborator.

The Rise of the Mendicant Orders

The year 1210 saw the foundation of the Franciscans, whose Hebrew interests were mainly motivated by (1, b), and 1215 that of the Dominicans or Preachers, who, responding primarily to (1, c) and (1, cc), sited their houses when possible near Jewish quarters or actually within them, as at Oxford. Their missionary zeal was directed also toward Muslims, and consequently to Spain where many Jews spoke Arabic, and led a few Dominicans to study Arabic and others Hebrew; they may have established a Hebrew school at Paris in about 1236. The efforts of the Franciscans have left more trace in England, due largely to the encouragement of Robert Grosseteste (d. 1253), bishop of Lincoln, and to the pioneering endeavors of Roger *Bacon, himself an author of Greek and Hebrew grammars, who grasped the cognate nature of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. An interlinear glossation of the Hebrew Bible (superscriptio Lincolniensis) reflects in its name Grosseteste's encouragement: it follows the Hebrew word order with syllabically literal faithfulness, and often reflects Rashi's exegesis and develops his Norman-French glosses. The Psalms version survives complete, and fragments of other parts of the Bible, but coverage was probably not completed; and Henry of Cossey, a Cambridge Franciscan (d. 1336), in saying that the Church had "not yet" authorized the version, may imply domestic aspiration or a serious project. The collaboration of Jews, possibly reluctant and still faithful rather than apostates, has been proved. Thus facility (2, b) was apparently available preeminently in France and England, and the English expulsion of 1290 (occasion type 2, b) may have increased potential consultants in Paris and elsewhere.

The result of this (and doubtless other unrecorded) interest, alongside motive (1, aa; see below) was the enactment of the ecclesiastical Council of Vienne (1312) – thanks to the efforts of the Arabist Raymond Lull – that two teaching posts each for Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic should be established at Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca respectively. In Oxford the converted Jew John of Bristol taught Hebrew and Greek for a few years from 1321, and in Paris and Salamanca the Hebrew chair was staffed for about a century, but that of Paris certainly thereafter lapsed. The superscriptio was forgotten, possibly being overshadowed by the commentary of the Franciscan Nicholas de Lyre to the entire Bible. Leaning on Andrew and heavily impregnated by independent use of Rashi, it was later supplemented by the apostate Paul of Burgos (see Pablo de Santa *Maria) (d. 1435) from *Ibn Ezra and *Kimḥi. The Christian student apparently now felt that he could skip the Hebrew text, and its linguistic study hibernated until the late 15th century. Lyre's supplemented "Postillae" became, alongside the Historia Scholastica (see above), the standard source for Jewish exegetical matter; Lyre's work was the first Christian commentary to reach print (1471–72), long retaining its place.

The other contributory stimulus (1, a; 1, aa) was the endeavor to correct and standardize the text of the Latin Vulgate, initiative here lying with the Dominicans, although the Franciscan correctoria, profiting from their predecessors' experience, were more influential. The general effect, however (in default of print), was to leave confusion worse confounded, as Bacon (criticizing the Dominican correctoria) pointed out with great emphasis; the reason partly being failure to separate the task of establishing the "best" Vulgate text (i.e., the purest or the fullest, according to standpoint), from that of collating the current (let alone the most primitive) Latin text with the current Hebrew, whose uncompromised originality was presupposed. Such Hebrew expertise as is evinced in this work is associated with the Dominican Hugh of St. Cher (d. 1263) of Paris, and with the Franciscan William of Mara (fl. 1280), whose Hebrew scholarship was enthusiastically acclaimed by Bacon. The only permanent effect of this activity was a unified chapter division since adopted (with slight exceptions) by Jews in the Hebrew text as well.

Missionary activity in Spain also led the Dominicans to investigate post-biblical Jewish literature, with a view to the refutation of matter therein allegedly incompatible with Christianity. In Raymond *Martini the Dominicans produced a scholar unusually versed in rabbinic literature, whose controversialist collectaneum (Pugio fidei) contains some extracts – now considered genuine – from Jewish sources which are no longer extant. A similar 13th-century enterprise, by French Dominicans led by Theobald, excerpted a number of allegedly objectionable extractiones de Talmude (including some from Rashi's commentary), the continued influence of which even into the age of print is only now becoming clearer. The Pugio Fidei remained a standard source for anti-Jewish polemic, which hovered between motives (1, cc) and (1, d). In the public *Disputations (1, cc) forced on the Jews, initiative came largely from apostates and from the Dominicans; and since most of the apostates (e.g., Pablo *Christiani, or Gerónimo de Santa Fé, alias Joshua (al-) *Lorki) were at best amateur rabbinists of inferior competence to their Jewish respondents, the Hebrew scholarship adduced on the Christian side was largely repetitive. After the Reformation, Protestant tractarians were able somewhat to enlarge the repertoire (see e.g., Johann *Eisenmenger).

Jewish Scientific Writings

In addition to Christian concern in the Hebrew Bible and messianic and similar passages in talmudic literature, there sometimes was an interest in Hebrew texts which were recognized as being both Jewish, and also creatively new, in a way that Talmud and Midrash were not: namely, scientific writings. This does not refer to the recovery of the older Greek texts through Arabic and Hebrew versions as described above, but rather to the near contemporary works – medical, mathematical, astronomical, etc. – of Abraham Ibn Ezra, *Abraham b. Ḥayya (Savasorda), Maimonides, and others. In Jewish philosophy the most significant production, Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed, early became available in a Latin translation that relieved aspirant students of learning Hebrew. The same applies to the older medical writings of Jews, especially Isaac *Israeli, while the Jewish authorship of the Fons Vitae by Ibn *Gabirol (Avicebron) was apparently early forgotten. But by the 13th–14th centuries the scientific writings of Jews (mainly of Spain) were being sought by Christians in southern Europe, and occasionally (via these southern countries) further north; thus, Kepler was to put himself to trouble to see astronomical matter included in works of *Levi b. Gershom (Gersonides).

The presence, from 1391 onward, of many converted Jews in Spain, and after 1492 of many crypto-Jews, facilitated such studies (2, b; 2, c): not only because Hebrew teachers were relatively easy to find, and to employ (as being professedly Christians) de jure in the universities, but also because these "converts" had often carried with them into their Christian conformity an interest in, and familiarity with, earlier Jewish science, and themselves maintained the tradition in Latin (or Spanish), alongside the contemporary work (up until 1492) of their still faithful kinsfolk.

The Kabbalah, Italy, and the Renaissance

Spain was also the birthplace of the Zoharic Kabbalah, the wider impact of which was first felt in the communities of Italy and Provence, where (as in Spain) Jewish instructors could easily be found. Italy stands out, already in the 15th century, for Christian kabbalistic interests. Motivation was ambivalent (1, bb; 1, c; 1, cc). The *Zohar's ascription to R. *Simeon b. Yohai in late antiquity being presupposed, it was reckoned authentically Jewish, and consequently not open to repudiation by Jews if adduced controversially by Christians. Moreover, features of the kabbalistic system were deemed to be not merely coherent with Christian trinitarianism but indeed potentially to underwrite it. By the end of the 15th century, Kabbalah had become a significant discipline of study for a few Christian humanists – e.g., *Pico della Mirandola and *Egidio da Viterbo – who were really competent in Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic. Such names mark the crowning achievement of medieval Christian Hebraism, which is marked off (though still a continuity) from modern Hebrew studies by the work of Johann *Reuchlin and the age of print. Five outstanding 16th-century scholars in the field were Pietro Columna *Galatinus, Francesco *Giorgio, Guillaume *Postel, Guy Le *Fèvre de la Boderie, and Benito *Arias Montano. This Hebrew interest, as the outcome of the religious humanism of the Renaissance, is linked by the same parent to the Hebrew scholarship of the Reformation, in which the same atmosphere largely prevailed – and the Christian kabbalists could never have made such remarkable progress but for the encouragement of Hebrew in Italy by prince and prelate during the earlier part of the 15th century. A revised attitude (1, e) toward Greek and Roman antiquity, as having discovered the vehicle for certain permanent values in a linguistic meticulousness that could consequently be considered "classical," easily set the language of the Hebrew Bible alongside them: since biblical values (as read with a Christian glossation) were considered permanent, biblical Hebrew, no less than Plato's Greek or Virgil's Latin, must be acknowledged to be "classical." Post-biblical Hebrew might, as a corollary, have been scorned as debased and post-classical, but it was not; perhaps because, inarticulately and paradoxically, the Christian humanists sensed a continuity of a sort between post-biblical Judaism and Christianity, unlike the discontinuity with paganism. Consequently, despite the conviction that the Church had displaced the Synagogue as the authentic embodiment of the message of the "Old" Testament, the supposedly obsolete institutions and theology of Judaism – presumed still to be those of apostolic times – remained worth investigating.

Such academic motivations were reinforced by (1, c) conversionism, and led not merely to the study of Hebrew – occasionally even as a spoken language, with Jewish or apostate assistance – it also stimulated the collection of Hebrew manuscripts, not as curiosities but as appropriate to any humanist's library that purported to be well equipped. Typical of the enterprise may be considered Giannozzo *Manetti, who at the encouragement of Nicholas V laid the foundations of the Vatican Hebrew collection. At the turn of the 15th–16th centuries such interest flourished sufficiently to lead to the foundation of a few "trilingual" colleges – in Alcala (Spain), thanks to the patronage of Cardinal *Ximenes (Cisneros), in Paris (College de France), at Oxford (Corpus Christi College), at Louvain, Vienna, and conceivably elsewhere. In some cases these arrangements were absorbed in, or replaced by professorships (see below); elsewhere they may have petered out. But in England the tradition of "trilinguality" (to be carried further, in ideal, by Robert Wakefield's tract (1524) on the laus et utilitas of Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew) passed into some of the grammar schools then being founded, e.g., Colet's refounded St. Paul's (London) – there to survive, admittedly in an attenuated form, except in the case of Merchant Taylors' School, where it was prosecuted vigorously into the 20th century.

The Reformation and the Age of Printing

For approximately 50 years (1490–1540) the following three independent factors invigorated each other: (A) The emergence of a cadre of near-modern type scholars, preeminently J. Reuchlin and C. *Pellicanus, capable of training successors on the basis of comprehensive and categorically articulated grammars of at least biblical Hebrew accidence, which they themselves composed. These grammars were substantially influenced by David Kimḥi's. (B) The spread of the *printing press, and the demands of Christian Hebraists for Hebrew type – a need met in northern Europe at first by blockcutting for each word. Pride of place again belongs to Italy, where movable Hebrew type-font had already been well developed by Jewish printers; the enterprise of the Christian printer Daniel Bomberg of Venice stands out. Enjoying the patronage of Leo X, and availing himself of the editorial services of really expert rabbinists (including the convert Jacob b. Ḥayyim of Tunis, and Elijah *Levita) Bomberg gave Europe both its first "rabbinic" bibles (i.e., Hebrew texts with parallel Jewish commentaries), and the first complete edition of both Talmuds. The presence of these volumes, often from an early date, in academic libraries across Europe may be a significant pointer to Hebrew interest locally. Pellicanus' Hebrew grammar was the first to be printed (Strasbourg, 1504); Reuchlin's (Pforzheim, 1506) also contained a vocabulary. With these basic tools, which were rapidly improved, the modern foundations of western academic Hebrew may be considered laid. (C) The movement toward ecclesiastical reform that ended in the emergence of nation-centered Protestant churches independent of Rome owed much to the claim – ultimately a quasi-dogma – that authority lay not in the tradition of the western Church controlled by the papal curia, which had encrusted the Bible with its own interpretation (parallel to the procedure of rabbinic Judaism), but in the unadulterated text of the Bible itself. Hence the need for study of the biblical languages, and for producing improved translations – soon into the vernaculars of Europe, but also into Latin (e.g., that by Xanctes (Santes) *Pagnini, 1528). Pagnini's was a Catholic enterprise and when the Council of Trent asserted the "authenticity" of the Latin Vulgate, this was on grounds of its embodying of and linkage with "officially" endorsed patristic exegesis (analogous to the position of Targum Onkelos within Judaism), and not by way of depreciation of the greater accuracy of the new translations. But the result was that, until recent times, Catholic vernacular versions have continued to be made from the Latin, with the significant exception of the Spanish Bible, which was a Jewish production made in Italy, and accepted by the curia through (ex-) Marrano channels.

Together, these trends brought about the establishment of professorships of Hebrew in the universities, both in Catholic countries and under the reformed churches, in part as an item of governmental policy; the "Regius" chairs at Oxford and Cambridge, for example, being founded by Henry VIII in 1540. Henceforth, however, gentile Hebraism in Europe flows along divided streams – one Catholic, and the other in the countries of the Reform.

Post-Reformation Catholic Hebraism

The Counter-Reformation focused Catholic Hebrew scholarship almost exclusively on the Hebrew Bible, Jewish interests that had engaged men like Pico della Mirandola being left for Protestants. The major achievements were consequently the polyglot editions of the Bible (Antwerp, 1569–72, and Paris, 1628–45). But paradoxically it was an Italian Cistercian, *Bartolocci, and his successor Imbonati, whose Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica (Rome, 1675–93) laid the foundations of Jewish bibliography, thereby adding to Hebrew scholarship a dimension from which Jewish no less than gentile Hebraists have benefited. In the late 18th century G.B. de *Rossi in Parma likewise set himself to widen Hebrew academic horizons once again.

The Protestant Countries

In the reformed countries, most Hebraists were members of the nationally established church concerned; but ecclesiastical and political frontiers break down in the case of Hungary, where a preponderant number of the Hebrew scholars were Calvinists, many of them having studied abroad. Protestant masoretic studies produced in the 17th century some notable editions of the Bible, particularly those of the Dutchmen Leusden and van der Hooght; but the crowning achievement was the publication in London (1657) of the most elaborate polyglot Bible ever produced, by a scholarly team led by B. *Walton. But during the later 16th and early 17th centuries the making of vernacular bible versions was earnestly prosecuted, having begun with Luther's German from 1523 and *Tyndale's English from 1530, both made direct from the Hebrew. The names of those responsible for the English "Authorised" Version (King James', 1611) are all known, and included some of the best contemporary Hebraists and Orientalists (see *Bible, Versions, English). The high frequency with which from 1504 onward Hebrew grammars were published (and reprinted) must imply a student market greatly outnumbering the names of those Christian Hebraists known to us as such from their publications; many others, theologians and lawyers, etc., from, e.g., Wittenberg, Jena, Leipzig, or Basle – place-names that occur time and again on the title pages of grammars – must have carried away an ability to read the Hebrew Bible, and their casual use of it in their writings can often be traced from the indexes, or the occurrence of Hebrew typeface, in their collected works.

Two Hebrew presses – at Basle and Leiden – stand out as academically adventurous. Sebastian *Muenster who published (1542) a post-biblical Hebrew grammar, issued from Basle a number of rabbinic texts, some with Latin translations, in which he enjoyed the cooperation of Paulus Fagius. The *Buxtorf dynasty carried on and extended the same editorial activity, producing translations of several of the classical texts of medieval Judaism, including *Judah Halevi's Kuzari and Maimonides' Guide, as well as the first large-scale Lexicon Chaldaicum Talmudicum et Rabbinicum (1639). The Leiden and Amsterdam presses, especially the former (as also to a lesser degree those of Lund and Uppsala) printed many Hebrew publications including the doctoral dissertations of students of Jewish texts, as presided over by their teachers. The typical set task, from the later 16th century until toward the end of the 18th, was to translate into Latin a tractate of the Mishnah, or a section of Maimonides' Code, or the commentary of Rashi, Ibn Ezra, or *Abrabanel, to part or all of one of the biblical books (Rashi to the whole Hebrew Bible was published in Latin by J.F. *Breithauft (1710–13)). Although any system will presumably have depended on a teacher's own interests and assignments to his pupils, probably with little attention to work being done elsewhere, the amount of rabbinic literature thus haphazardly placed in the hands of readers of Latin is impressive.

Other enterprises rank as fresh groundbreaking, such as *Scaliger's communication with the Samaritans of Nablus. Dutch and (even more so) English trading connections with the Levant gave some scholars opportunity to visit Turkey as chaplains, the preeminent example being Edward *Pococke, whose Hebrew scholarship won genuine acclaim from contemporary levantine rabbis. John *Selden, as a lawyer, developed remarkable insight into the workings of halakhah, and the body of rabbinic learning applied to the exegesis of the New Testament (an enterprise that had continental parallels) by J.B. *Lightfoot was highly considered indeed. Chrestomathies for introducing students were also being produced, e.g., *Reland's Analecta Rabbinica (Utrecht, 1702). Reland's pupil A. *Schultens (d. 1756) first systematically exploited Arabic for the elucidation of Hebrew vocabulary. Among the Puritans of New England, the Mayflower had included one or two with a knowledge of Hebrew in its passenger list, and H. *Ainsworth is to be reckoned a "professional"; otherwise, through the 18th century American Hebraism was an affair of amateurs, some of them by no means negligible in competence, typified by Ezra *Stiles of Yale.

The Nineteenth Century

After approximately 1800 two new factors reduced the spate of rabbinic dissertations. One was the growth, after J.D. Michaelis' study of the Mosaic Law (1770–75), of the modern source-analytical study of the Hebrew Bible, largely elaborated regarding the Pentateuch by K.H. *Graf, and classically stated by J. *Wellhausen in 1889. This diverted the attention of Hebraists in the reformed countries back toward the Bible, especially since the decipherment of cuneiform yielded, from the middle of the century onward, an increasing body of highly relevant new source material. The other factor was Jewish emancipation, which produced a few Jews of the type of *Zunz and *Steinschneider who were academically trained in the Western sense and eager to apply modern scholarly techniques and categories to Jewish material, to whose attentions contemporary Christian Hebraists were apparently content to resign it. Conceivably the change of attitude in Germany, where hitherto much rabbinic scholarship had been prosecuted by gentiles, may be linkable to reaction against the liberalism that had produced Jewish emancipation. The net result was that what had hitherto counted as Hebrew scholarship split into two quasi-independent disciplines, namely, Old Testament scholarship, which maintained a nodding acquaintance with the newly recognized discipline of Oriental or Semitic studies; both largely ignoring "Jewish" scholarship as having little more to contribute to their respective disciplines, and as falling in an academic no-man's-land between East and West. There was thus a gap of approximately a century in the cultivation by Christian scholars of rabbinics as a tool for New Testament and other late-antique studies, until its relevance was rediscovered in the 20th century, and enhanced in importance when the Dead Sea Scrolls began to be investigated.

The history of gentile Hebrew scholarship cannot be properly written until the careers and achievements of its practitioners have been not only assessed but also correlated. The list of names which follows makes no claim to completeness. (See Table: Christian Hebraists.) The Hebrew competence of those listed prior to about 1500 may prove, on investigation, sometimes to have been less than repute has credited to the individual concerned, but these early students have been given the benefit of the doubt. After about 1500 minimal qualifications for inclusion are tenure of an official academic or para-academic teaching post for Hebrew, or defense of a thesis on a rabbinic subject, or the publication of a Hebrew grammar (authors of the multitudinous manuscript Hebrew grammars extant in libraries have not been included, unless otherwise qualified). So far as is known, the list includes no name whose bearer was of Jewish parentage but who himself apostatized. With one or two readily intelligible exceptions, it excludes all who died after 1890. This year – that of the death of F. *Delitzsch, and following that of the publication of Wellhausen's documentary hypothesis – may be taken as the division between post-Reformation Hebrew scholarship and the accommodation of Hebrew and Jewish subjects within Semitics, the Hebrew Bible nevertheless sometimes still being felt to be a preserve of the Christian theologian, which prevails in the modern secular university and some of its confessional counterparts.


(The abbreviations in the right-hand column are used in the Christian Hebraists list following the bibliography).


M. Steinschneider, in: ZHB, 1–5 (1896–1901), cited by serial numbers;

idem, Cat. Bod.;
     Bodl. Cat.

idem, Die europaeischen Uebersetzungen aus dem Arabischen bis Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts (1849);
     Europ. Uebers.

idem, Die hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters (1893);
     Hebr. Uebers.

B. Ugolinus, Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum…, 34 vols. (Venice, 1774–69);

M. Kayserling, in: REJ, 20 (1890), 261–8; idem, in: JQR, 9 (1896/97), 509–14;

D. Kauffmann, in: MGWJ, 39 (1895), 145–67;

B. Pick, in: Bibliotheca Sacra, 42 (1886);

H. Rashdall, Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, ed. By F.M. Powicke and A.B. Emden, 3 vols. (19362);

P.S. Allen, in: Erasmus (1934), 138f.;

C. Singer and G.H. Box, in: E.R. Bevan and C. Singer (eds.), Legacy of Israel (19282), 238f., 315f.;

J. Parkes, in: SBB, 6 (1962), 11–28;

New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 13 vols. (1949–50);
     Enc. Rel. Kn.

B. Blumenkranz, Les Auteurs chrétiens latins du Moyen Age sur les juifs et le judaïsme (1963);

F. Secret, Le Zôhar chez les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (19642);

idem, Les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964);

H. Hailperin, Rashi and the Christian Scholars (1963);

H.J. Schoeps, Philosemitismus im Barock (1952);

B. Smalley, Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (19522);

R. Loewe, in: G.H.W. Lampe (ed.), Cambridge History of the Bible, 2 (1969), 148f.;

Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie;

Nouvelle Biographie Générale;

M. Michaud (ed.), Biographie Universelle ancienne et moderne, 45 vols. (1854–652);
     Biogr. Univ.

Encyclopaedia Brittanica (191111);
     Enc. Br.11

Jewish Encyclopaedia, 12 vols. (1901–05);

Catholic Encyclopaedia, 15 vols. (1907–15; 19672);

Hebraeische Bibliographie (1858–82);
     Heb. Bibl.

Zeitschrift fuer Hebraeische Bibliographie (1896–1920);

J. Zedner, Catalogue of the Hebrew Books in the… British Museum (1867).


Franciscans: L. Wadding (ed.), Scriptores Ordinis Minorum (Rome, 1650; repr. 1967);

J.H. Sbaralea, Supplementum…ad Scriptores trium ordinum…, 3 pts. (1908–36);
     Sbaralea Supple.

Dominicans: J. Quétif and J. Echard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, 2 vols. (Paris, 1719–23; repr., 2 vols. in 4, 1959);

Jesuits: A. and A. de Backer, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, ed. by C. Sommervogel, 11 vols. (1890–1932);
     Bibl. Comp. de Jésus

L. Polgár, Bibliography of the History of the Society of Jesus (1967).



W. Rosenau, Semitic Studies in American Colleges (1896);

D. de Sola Pool, in: AJHSP, 20 (1911), 31–83;

A. Johnson (ed.), Dictionary of American Biography (1928–37).
     D. Am. B.


W.A. Neumann, Ueber die orientalischen Sprachenstudien seit dem XIII. Jahrhunderte, mit besonderer Ruecksicht auf Wien (1899);

C. von Wurzbach, Biographisches Lexicon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, 60 vols. (1856–91);
     BLK Oest

L. Santifaller (ed.), Oesterreichisches Biographisches Lexicon 1815–1950 (1954– ).


Biographie Nationale de Belgique (1866– );
     BN Belg.

J. Duverger, Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek (in progress).


Czech Academy of Sciences, Oriental Institute, Moscow, Asian and African Studies in Czechoslovakia (1967);

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.