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Moritz Steinschneider (1816‚Äď1907)
Moritz Steinschneider (March 30, 1816, Prostńõjovmarker (Prossnitz), Moravia ‚Äď 1907) was a Bohemian bibliographer and Orientalist. He received his early instruction in Hebrew from his father, Jacob Steinschneider (b. 1782; d. March, 1856), who was not only an expert Talmudist, but was also well versed in secular science. The house of the elder Steinschneider was the rendezvous of a few progressive Hebraists, among whom was his brother-in-law, the physician and writer Gideon Brecher.

Steinschneider means "stonecutter", or more literally, stone tailor. This likely identifies the profession of gem cutter.

Education

At the age of six Steinschneider was sent to the public school, which was unheard-of at that time for a Jewish child; and at the age of thirteen he became the pupil of Rabbi Nahum Trebitsch, whom he followed to Nikolsburgmarker in 1832. The following year, in order to continue his Talmudic studies, he went to Praguemarker, where he remained until 1836, attending simultaneously the lectures at the Normal School. His countryman Abraham Benisch, who also was studying in Prague at this time, inaugurated among his intimate friends a kind of Zionistic movement, which Steinschneider joined. Later, however, seeing the impracticability of the scheme, he withdrew from it completely (1842).

In 1836 Steinschneider went to Viennamarker to continue his studies, and, on the advice of his friend Leopold Dukes, he devoted himself especially to Oriental and Neo-Hebrew literatures, and most particularly to bibliography, which would become his principal focus.

As a Jew, Steinschneider was prevented from entering the Oriental Academy; and for the same reason he was unable even to obtain permission to make extracts from the Hebrew books and manuscripts in the Imperial Library, Vienna. In spite of these drawbacks he continued his studies in Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew with Professor Kaerle at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the university. He had at this juncture the intention of adopting the rabbinical career. In Vienna, as formerly in Prague, he earned a livelihood by giving lessons, teaching Italian among other subjects.

University career

For political reasons he was compelled to leave Vienna and decided to go to Berlin; but, being unable to obtain the necessary passport, he remained in Leipzigmarker. At the university there he continued the study of Arabic under Professor Fleischer. At this time he began the translation of the Qur'an into Hebrew and collaborated with Franz Delitzsch in editing Aaron ben Elijah's 'Etz Chayyim (Leipzig, 1841); but the rules of the Austrian censorship did not permit the publication of his name as coeditor. While in Leipzig he contributed a number of articles on Jewish and Arabic literature to Pierer's Universal Encyklopädie.

Having at length secured the necessary passport, Steinschneider in 1839 proceeded to Berlin, where he attended the university lectures of Franz Bopp on comparative philology and the history of Oriental literatures. At the same time he made the acquaintance of Leopold Zunz and Abraham Geiger. In 1842 he returned to Prague, and in 1845 he followed Michael Sachs to Berlin; but the Orthodox tendencies of the latter caused Steinschneider to abandon definitely his intention of becoming a rabbi. At this time he was employed as a reporter of the National-Zeitung at the sessions of the National Assembly in Frankfort and as correspondent of the Präger Zeitung. In 1844, together with David Cassel, he drafted the Plan der Real-Encyclopädie des Judenthums, a prospectus of which work was published in the Literaturblatt des Orients; but the project was not carried through by Steinscheider.

On March 17, 1848, Steinschneider, after many difficulties, succeeded in becoming a Prussianmarker citizen. The same year he was charged with the preparation of the catalogue of the Hebrew books in the Bodleian Librarymarker, Oxfordmarker (Catalogus Librorum Hebræorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, Berlin, 1852-60), a work which was to occupy him thirteen years, in the course of which he spent four summers in Oxfordmarker.

In 1850 he received from the University of Leipzigmarker the degree of Ph.D. In 1859 he was appointed lecturer at the Veitel-Heine Ephraim'sche Lehranstalt in Berlin, where his lectures were attended by both Jewish and Christian students. From 1860 to 1869 he served as representative of the Jewish community at the administration, before the tribunals of the city, of the oath More judaico, never omitting the opportunity to protest against this remnant of medieval prejudice. From 1869 to 1890 he was director of the J√ľdische M√§dchen-Schule (school for girls of the Jewish community), and in 1869 he was appointed assistant ("Hilfsarbeiter") in the Royal Library, Berlin. From 1859 to 1882 he edited the periodical Hebr√§ische Bibliographie. In 1872 and 1876 he refused calls to the Hochschule f√ľr die Wissenschaft des Judenthums in Berlin and the Landesrabbiner-Schule in Budapest, respectively, holding that the proper institutions for the cultivation of Jewish science were not the Jewish theological seminaries, but the universities.

His field of activity

He chose fields far removed from that of theology proper, e.g., mathematics, philology, natural history, and medicine, to display the part which the Jews had taken in the general history of civilization (Kulturgeschichte). While Zunz had laid the foundations of Jewish science, Steinschneider completed many essential parts of the structure. He was the first to give a systematic survey of Jewish literature down to the end of the eighteenth century, and to publish catalogues of the Hebrew books and manuscripts which are found in the public libraries of Europe. The Bodleian catalogue laid the foundation of his reputation as the greatest Jewish bibliographer. This and the catalogues of the libraries of Leidenmarker, Munichmarker, Hamburgmarker, and Berlin, as well as the twenty-one volumes of his Hebräische Bibliographie, form a mine of information of Jewish history and literature.

One of his most important original works is Die Hebr√§ischen √úbersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher: Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte des Mittelalters; meistenteils nach Handschriftlichen Quellen, Berlin, 1893, planned in 1849. While writing on Jewish literature for Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklop√§die der Wissenschaften und K√ľnste (1844-47), he became conscious of the lack of sources on the influence of foreign works on Jewish literature. He determined to supplement the monographs of Huet, Jourdain, W√ľstenfeld, and Johann Georg Wenrich on the history of translations by one having the Neo-Hebrew literature as its subject. In 1880 the Institut de Francemarker offered a prize for a complete bibliography of the Hebrew translations of the Middle Ages; Steinschneider won it with two monographs written in French in 1884 and 1886. His √úbersetzungen is an enlarged translation into German of these.

Steinschneider wrote with equal facility in German, Latin, French, Italian, and Hebrew; his style was not popular, intended only "for readers who know something, and who wish to increase their knowledge"; but, curiously enough, he did not hesitate to write, together with Horwitz, a little reader for school-children, Imre Binah (1846), and other elementary school-books for the Sassoon School of the Beni-Israel at Bombaymarker. In 1839 he wrote Eine Uebersicht der Wissenschaften und K√ľnste Welche in Stunden der Liebe Nicht Uebersehen Sind for Saphir's Pester Tageblatt, and in 1846 Manna, a volume of poems, adaptations of Hebrew poetry, which he dedicated to his fianc√©e, Augusta Auerbach, whom he married in 1848.

Works

The following is a list of the more important independent works of Steinschneider, arranged in chronological order:

  • 'Etz Chayyim, Ahron ben Elias aus Nikomedien des Kar√§er's System der Religionsphilosophie, etc., edited together with Franz Delitzsch. Leipzig, 1841.
  • Die Fremdsprachlichen Elemente im Neuhebr√§ischen. Prague, 1845.
  • Imre Binah: Spruchbuch f√ľr J√ľdische Schulen, edited together with A. Horwitz. Berlin, 1847.
  • Manna (adaptations of Hebrew poetry from the eleventh to the thirteenth century). Berlin, 1847.
  • J√ľdische Literatur, in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." section ii, part 27, pp. 357-376, Leipzig, 1850 (English version, by William Spottiswoode, "Jewish Literature from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century", London, 1857; Hebrew version, by Henry Malter, "Sifrut Yisrael", Wilnamarker, 1899).
  • Catalogus Librorum Hebr√¶orum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana. Berlin, 1852-60.
  • Die Schriften des Dr. Zunz. Berlin, 1857.
  • Alphabetum Siracidis ... in Integrum Restitutum et Emendatum, etc. Berlin, 1858.
  • Catalogus Codicum Hebr√¶orum Bibliothec√¶ Academi√¶ Lugduno-Batav√¶ (with 10 lithograph tables containing specimens from Karaite authors). Leiden, 1858.
  • Bibliographisches Handbuch √ľber die Theoretische und Praktische Literatur f√ľr Hebr√§ische Sprachkunde. Leipsic, 1859 (with corrections and additions, ib. 1896).
  • Reshit ha-Limmud, a systematic Hebrew primer for D. Sassoon's Benevolent Institution at Bombay. Berlin, 1860.
  • Zur Pseudoepigraphischen Literatur, Insbesondere der Geheimen Wissenschaften des Mittelalters. Aus Hebr√§ischen und Arabischen Quellen. Berlin, 1862.
  • Alfarabi des Arabischen Philosophen Leben und Schriften, etc. St. Petersburgmarker, 1869.
  • Die Hebr√§ischen Handschriften der K√∂niglichen Hof- und Staatsbibliothek in M√ľnchen (in the "Sitzungsberichte der-Philosophisch-Historischen Klasse der K√∂niglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in M√ľnchen"). Munich, 1875.
  • Polemische und Apologetische Literatur in Arabischer Sprache Zwischen Muslimen, Christen und Juden. Leipzig, 1877.
  • Catalog der Hebr√§ischen Handschriften in der Stadtbibliothek zu Hamburg. Hamburgmarker, 1878.
  • Die Arabischen √úbersetzungen aus dem Griechischen. Berlin, 1889-96.
  • Die Hebr√§ischen √úbersetzungen des Mittelalters und die-Juden als Dolmetscher, etc. Berlin, 1893.
  • Verzeichniss der Hebr√§ischen Handschriften der K√∂niglichen Bibliothek zu Berlin. Part i, Berlin, 1897; part ii, ib. 1901.
  • Die Arabische Literatur der Juden. Frankfort-on-the-Mainmarker, 1902.


Besides a great number of contributions, in widely differing forms, to the works of others (see Steinschneider Festschrift, pp. xi-xiv), the following independent essays of Steinschneider deserve special mention:

  • "Ueber die Volksliteratur der Juden", in R. Gosche's "Archiv f√ľr Literaturgeschichte", 1871:
  • "Constantinus Africanus und Seine Arabischen Quellen", in Virchow's "Archiv", vol. xxxvii;
  • "Donnolo: Pharmakologische Fragmente aus dem 10. Jahrhundert", ib.;
  • "Die Toxologischen Schriften der Araber bis zum Ende des XII. Jahrhunderts", ib. lii (also printed separately);
  • "Gifte und Ihre Heilung: Eine Abhandlung des Moses Maimonides", ib. lvii;
  • "Gab Es eine Hebr√§ische Kurzschrift?" in "Archiv f√ľr Stenographie", 1877 (reprint of the article "Abbre viaturen", prepared by Steinschneider for the proposed "Real-Encyclop√§die des Judenthums", see above);
  • "J√ľdische Typographie und J√ľdischer Buchhandel" with D. Cassel, in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc". section ii, part 28, pp. 21-94;
  • "Die Metaphysik des Aristoteles in J√ľdischer Bearbeitung", in the "Zunz Jubelschrift", 1886;
  • "Jehuda Mosconi", in Berliner's "Magazin", 1876;
  • "Islam und Judenthum", ib. 1880;
  • "Ueber Bildung und den Einfluss des Reisens auf Bildung" (two lectures delivered in the Verein Junger Kaufleute; reproduced in the Virchow-Wattenbach "Sammlung Gemeinverst√§ndlicher Wissenschaftlicher Vortr√§ge", 1894);
  • "Lapidarien: Ein Culturgeschichtlicher Versuch", in the Kohut Memorial Volume, 1896;
  • "J√ľdisch-Deutsche Literatur", in Neuman's "Serapeum", 1848-49;
  • "J√ľdisch-Deutsche Literatur und J√ľdisch-Deutsch", ib. 1864, 1866, 1869;
  • articles on Arabia, Arabic, Arabic literature, the caliphs, the Qur'an, the Muslim religion, and Muslim sects in the second edition (1839-43) of Pierer's "Universallexikon";
  • "Letteratura Italiana dei Giudei", in "Il Vessillo Israelitico, "1877-80;
  • "Letteratura Anti-giudaica in Lingua Italiana", ib. 1881-83;
  • "Zur Geschichte der √úbersetzungen aus dem Indischen in's Arabische", in "Z. D. M. G." 1870-71;
  • "Hebr√§ische Drucke in Deutschland", in Ludwig Geiger's "Zeitschrift f√ľr die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland", 1886-92;
  • "Abraham Judaeus-Savasorda und Ibn Esra", in Schl√∂milch's "Zeitschrift f√ľr Mathematik und Physik", 1867;
  • "Abraham ibn Esra", ib. 1880.


Characteristic is Steinschneider's philosophic testament in the preface to his Arabische Literatur der Juden, in which he who laid the main foundation of the study of Jewish literature and history did not hesitate, at the age of eighty-six, to formulate an agnostic confession de foi.

Bibliography

  • Constantin von Wurzbach: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich. Vienna 1856 - 1891.
  • Morais, Eminent Israelites of the Nineteenth Century, Philadelphiamarker, 1880;
  • Keneset Yisrael (year-book), 1886;
  • Abraham Berliner, Catalogue of Steinschneider's Works, 1886;
  • Meyer Kayserling, in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. March 27, 1896;
  • G. A. Kohut, Bibliography of the Writings of Prof. M. Steinschneider, in Festschrift zum 80sten Geburtstage Steinschneider's, 1896
  • idem, in The American Hebrew, 1896.


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