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Isac Leo Seeligmann

SEELIGMANN, ISAC LEO (Arieh; 1907–1982), Bible scholar. Born in Amsterdam, he was the son of the bibliographer Sigmund *Seeligmann. Leo Seeligmann studied both at the Netherlands Israelite Seminary and at the Municipal University of Amsterdam (Latin and Greek). From 1936 onwards he taught at the Seminary. Despite deportation to Westerbork and Theresienstadt, he and his family survived World War II. In 1946 he became curator of the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, the Judaica and Hebraica Department of the Amsterdam University Library, and worked together with Leo Fuks, who would succeed him in 1950, to fill the gaps and to try to continue the pre-war history of the collection. He combined both his rabbinical training and his philological studies in his Ph.D. dissertation on The Septuagint Version of Isaiah (Leiden 1948, re-edited in The Septuagint Version of Isaiah and Cognate Studies, 2004). He aimed at understanding the Septuagint as a document of Jewish-Alexandrian theology. In 1950 he joined the Bible Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he taught as a lecturer and as a professor for 25 years. Shortly before his death he was presented with a three-volume Festschrift as a measure of the esteem many scholars held for him.

In addition to his book on the Septuagint, Seeligmann's scholarly contribution was in his lectures at international congresses and his articles in periodicals and Festschriften. A selection of these, in German and English, was published in Gesammelte Studien zur Hebräischen Bibel (2004), including translations from Hebrew.

In his first lecture for the International Organization of Old Testament Scholars (later: for the Study of the Old Testament) in Copenhagen 1953, he drew attention to the flexibility of biblical stories and literary motives in "Voraussetzungen der Midraschexegese" and later, on the same theme, in "Anfänge der Midraschexegese in der Chronik" (1980).

He became fascinated by the theme of the different stages of writing history in the Hebrew Bible. Among the fruits of his research into biblical historiography are "Hebräische Erzählung und biblische Geschichtsschreibung" (1962), "Von historischer Wirklichkeit zu historiosophischer Konzeption in der Hebräischen Bibel" (1971), and his last congress lecture in Goettingen, "Die Auffassung von der Prophetie in der deuteronomistischen und chronistischen Geschichts schreibung" (1977).

He demonstrated his interest in philological research in articles such as "Untersuchungen zur Textgeschichte der Hebräischen Bibel" (1956) and "Indications of Editorial Alteration and Adaptation in the Massoretic Text and the Septuagint" (1961). Among his other works are Phasen uit de geschiedenis van het Joodsch historisch bewustzijn (1947); Profetie en profeten in Israel (1927); and Tekst-, Litteratuuren godsdienstgeschiedenis van het Oude Testament (1935).

His colleague Rudolf Smend (Goettingen) wrote an extensive biographical sketch which highlights the trends of Seeligmann's research.


Isac Leo Seeligmann, The Septuagint Version of Isaiah and Cognate Studies, ed. by R. Hanhart and H. Spieckermann (2004); idem, Gesammelte Studien zur Hebräischen Bibel. Mit einem Beitrag von R. Smend, ed. by E. Blum (2004), including bibliog.; Studia Rosenthaliana, 38 (2005/6) includes an English translation of a long passage of Smend's biographical sketch.

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