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Wilhelm Bacher (January 12, 1850‚Äď1913) was a Hungarian scholar, Orientalist, and linguist, born in Lipt√≥-Szent-Mikl√≥smarker, Hungarymarker to the Hebrew writer Simon Bacher. Wilhelm was himself an incredibly prolific writer, authoring or co-authoring approximately 750 works in an unfortunately short life. He was a contributor to many collaborative projects (encyclopedias), and was a major contributor to the landmark Jewish Encyclopedia throughout all its 12 volumes . Although almost all of Bacher's works were written in German or Hungarian, at the urging of Hayyim Nahman Bialik many were subsequently translated into Hebrew by Alexander Siskind Rabinovitz.


Wilhelm attended the Hebrew schools in Szucs√°n and in his native town, and passed through the higher classes of the Evangelical Lyceum at Presburgmarker from 1863 to 1867, at the same time diligently prosecuting Talmudic studies.

In 1867 he began the study of philosophy and of Oriental languages‚ÄĒthe latter under V√°mb√©ry‚ÄĒat the University of Budapest, and also attended the lectures on the Talmud given by Samuel L√∂b Brill. In 1868, he went to Breslaumarker, where he continued the study of philosophy and philology at the University, and that of theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau. He graduated at the University of Leipsicmarker in 1870. His graduation thesis, Niz√Ęm√ģ's Leben und Werke, und der Zweite Theil des Niz√Ęm√ģ'schen Alexanderbuches, appeared in 1871, and was translated into English 1873 by S. Robinson. This was afterward incorporated in the collection entitled Persian Poetry for English Readers. In 1876, Bacher graduated as rabbi, and shortly afterward was appointed to the rabbinate in Szegedmarker, which had become vacant in consequence of the death of Leopold L√∂w.

Official Positions

On July 1, 1877, together with Moses Bloch and David Kaufmann, he was appointed by the Hungarian government to the professorship of the newly created Landesrabbinerschulemarker of Budapest. Bacher delivered the inaugural address in the name of the faculty at inaugurated of the institution in Oct. 4, 1877, and remained as teacher of the Biblical sciences, of Jewish history, and of various other branches at that institution. Bacher was for a time in 1878 field-chaplain in the Austro-Hungarian army, being delegated to the headquarters of the army of occupation in Bosniamarker.

The congregation of Pest, Hungarymarker appointed Bacher director of the Talmud-Torah School in 1885. In 1884 Bacher and Joseph B√°n√≥czi founded the Jud√¶o-Hungarian review, the Magyar Zsid√≥ Szemle, which they conjointly edited during the first seven years. In 1894 he assisted in founding the Jud√¶o-Hungarian Literary Society, Izraelita Magyar Irodami T√°rsulat, of which he became vice-president in 1898. This society instituted a new translation of the Bible into Hungarian‚ÄĒthe first complete translation due solely to Jewish initiative. The first five year-books of the society were edited by Bacher in conjunction with F. Mezey and afterward with D. B√°n√≥czi.

Voluminous Author

Bacher is the author of the following works:
  • Muslicheddin Sa'ad√ģ's Aphorismen und Sinngedichte, zum Ersten Male Herausgegeben und Uebersetzt, mit Beitr√§gen zur Biographie Sa'adi's, 1879.
  • Several contributions to the history of Persian literature in Z. D. M. G.
  • Kritische Untersuchungen zum Prophetentargum, ib. 1874.
  • Discussions of the Targum on Job and the Psalms, in Monatsschrift, 1871, 1872.
  • Abraham ibn Ezra's Einleitung zu Seinem Pentateuchcommentar, als Beitrag zur Geschichte der Bibelexegese Beleuchtet, in Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1876.
  • Die Grammatische Terminologie des Jehuda b. David Hajjugs, ib. 1882.
  • Die Hebr√§isch-Arabische Sprachvergleichung des Abulwal√ģd Merw√Ęn ibn Ganachs, ib. 1884.
  • Die Hebr√§isch-Neuhebr√§ische Sprachvergleichung des Abulwal√ģd, ib. 1885.
  • Die Agada der Babylonischen Amor√§er (First Annual Report of the Landes-rabbinerschule at Budapest, 1878; also printed separately). This work, like all others published in the annual reports of the National Rabbinical Institute, was published contemporaneously in Hungarian.
  • Abraham Ibn Ezra als Grammatiker, ib. 1881
  • Leben und Werke des Abulwal√ģd Merw√Ęn Ibn GńĀnńĀŠł• und die Quellen Seiner Schrifterkl√§rung, ib. 1885.
  • Aus der Schrifterkl√§rung des Abulwal√ģd Merw√Ęn ibn GńĀnńĀŠł•, 1889.
  • Die Bibelexegese der J√ľdischen Religionsphilosophen des Mittelalters vor Maim√Ľni, 1892.
  • Die Bibelexegese Moses Maim√Ľni's, 1896.
  • Ein Hebr√§isch-Persisches W√∂rterbuch aus dem Vierzehnten Jahrhundert, 1900.
  • Die Agada der Tanna√Įten. The first volume of this work was published in H. Gr√§tz's Monatsschrift from 1882 to 1884, and also appeared in 1884 in a separate edition in honor of the ninetieth birthday of L. Zunz; the second volume was published in 1890. A second, enlarged edition of Vol. I. appeared in 1902.
  • The three volumes of the Agada der Pal√§stinischen Amor√§er appeared respectively in 1892, 1896, and 1899.
  • Kit√Ęb al-Luma', Le Lion des Parterres Fleuris, in publications of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1886. Bacher's revised edition of this work was published under Derenbourg's name.
  • An edition of the Book of Job as translated by Saadia in Derenbourg's edition of Saadia's works (Ňíuvres Compl√®tes de R. Saadia, Volume Cinqui√®me, Paris, 1900).
  • An edition of the Sefer Zikkaron, or Hebrew Grammar of Joseph Šł≤imŠł•i, published in writings of the society MeŠł≥iŠļďe Nirdamim, 1888.
  • Sefer ha-Shorashim, Wurzelw√∂rterbuch der Hebr√§ischen Sprache, von Abulwal√ģd Merw√Ęn ibn GńĀnńĀŠł•, aus dem Arabischen ins Hebr√§ische Uebersetzt von Jehudah ibn Tibbon, mit einer Einleitung √ľber das Leben und die Schriften Abulwal√ģd's und mit Registern und einem Anhange, Nebst Textberichtigungen zum Sefer Versehen. This is an edition of the Hebrew translation of Abulwal√ģd's great lexicon, the principal grammatical work of that author. In this work, also published by the society MeŠł≥iŠļďe Nirdamim, Bacher corrected the Hebrew text in accordance with the Arabic original, and mentioned the sources of all the Biblical and other citations contained in it, which sources are not given in A. Neubauer's edition.
  • A compilation of the various readings of Ibn Ezra's Commentary on the Pentateuch in Berliner's Magazin, and separately, 1894‚ÄĒa work prepared with the aid of a valuable codex belonging to the university library at Cambridge.
Sefer NaŠł•alat Yehoshua', 2 vols., a redaction of the posthumous works of the Talmudist Kosman Wodianer (d. 1830), with a biographical introduction in Hebrew, in connection with which he prepared a list of the correspondents of Moses Sofer, Aus der Ersten HńĀlfte Unseres Jahrhunderts, 1893.
  • Sha'ar Shim'on, an edition of the Hebrew poems of his father, Simon Bacher (d. Nov. 9, 1891), with a biographical introduction in Hebrew.
  • An edition of H. Gr√§tz's Emendationes in Plerosque Sacr√¶ Scriptur√¶ V. T. Libros, 1892-94.
  • A treatment of the chapters of philology and exegesis in Winter and W√ľnsche's collection of Hebrew literature, Die J√ľdische Literatur. These contributions of Bacher have also been published separately under the respective titles: Die J√ľdische Bibelexegese vom Anfange des Zehnten bis zum Ende des F√ľnfzehnten Jahrhunderts.
  • Die Hebr√§ische Sprachwissenschaft vom Zehnten bis zum Sechzehnten Jahrhundert, mit einem Einleitenden Abschnitt √ľber die Masora, 1892.
  • Die Anf√§nge der Hebr√§ischen Grammatik, in Z. D. M. G., also published by Brockhaus, Leipsic, 1895. This is the first history of Hebrew grammar .
  • Die Aelteste Terminologie der J√ľdischen Schriftauslegung‚ÄĒein W√∂rterbuch der Bibelexegetischen Kunstsprache der Tanna√Įten, I. C. Hinrich, Leipsic, 1899.

Bacher has also been the author of numerous criticisms and reviews in periodicals devoted, like his books, to Hebrew philology, history of Biblical exegesis, and of the Aggadah. The magazines, etc., in which his contributions have appeared are the following:

His Criticisms and Reviews

  • M. E. Stern, "Kokbe YiŠļ•aŠł≥," 1865-68
  • "Monatsschrift," 1869-92
  • "Izraelit K√∂zl√∂ny," 1869-70
  • Rahmer's "Israelitische Wochenschrift und J√ľdische Literaturbl√§tter," 1870-76
  • I. Kobak's "Jeschurun," 1871
  • I. Reich, "Beth-Lechem," Jahrbuch, 1873
  • "Ha-Šł§abaŠļďelet," 1873; "Z. D. M. G." 1874-1902
  • Berliner's "Magazin f√ľr die Geschichte und Literatur des Judenthums," 1880-94
  • "Rev. Et. Juives," 1882-1902
  • "Magyar Zsid√≥ Szemle," 1884-1901
  • W. R. Harper, "Hebraica," 1884-93
  • Stade, "Zeitschrift" 1885-1901
  • "Jew. Quart. Rev." 1890-1901
  • K√∂nigsberger, "Monatsbl√§tter," 1891
  • √Čvk√∂nyv, "Jahrbuch des Ungarisch-Israelitischen Literaturvereins," published in Hungarian, 1895-1901
  • "OŠļďar ha-Sefarim"
  • "Gr√§ber's Magazin f√ľr HebrŠļďische Literatur," 1896
  • "Zeit. f. Hebr. Bibl." 1896-1900
  • "Deutsche Literaturzeitung," 1898-1901
  • S. H. Horodeczky's "Ha-Goren"
  • "Abhandlung √ľber die Wissenschaft des Judenthums," 1898-1900
  • "Ha-Eshkol," "Hebr√§isches Jahrbuch," 1898
  • "Jahrbuch f√ľr J√ľdische Gesch. und Literatur," 1899-1900
  • "Theologische Literaturzeitung," 1900-1
  • "Keleti Szemle" ("Revue Orientale," 1902)
  • "The Expository Times," 1900.

Further contributions of Bacher appeared in the festival publications to the seventieth birthday of H. Graetz, 1887, and the eightieth birthday of Steinschneider, 1896; in the festival publication in honor of Daniel Chwolsohn, 1899; and in the memorial book published on the anniversary of Samuel David Luzzatto's birthday, Berlin, 1900, and in that published in memory of Prof. David Kaufmann, 1900. Bacher has also contributed the article Levita to the Allgemeine Encyklopädie of Ersch and Gruber, and the articles Sanhedrin and Synagoge to the last volume of Hastings and Selbie's Dictionary of the Bible.


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