Buechler, Adolf

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BUECHLER, ADOLF (1867–1939), theologian and historian. Buechler received his early training in the Jewish seminaries of Budapest and Breslau and was awarded his doctorate in Leipzig in 1890. His earliest studies were in the fields of Hebrew philosophy and masorah. He was ordained rabbi in Budapest in 1892 and held a rabbinic post in that same city for a short time. He spent some time doing research under the guidance of his renowned uncle, Adolf *Neubauer, after which he was invited to work as an instructor at the Israelitisch-Theologische Lehranstalt in Vienna. In 1905 he was invited to become chief assistant to Michael Friedlaender, the principal of Jews' College, London, and in 1907 succeeded the latter as principal.

Buechler's main contribution to Jewish learning concerned the history of the Second Temple period, especially the latter part of that era. He wrote the important work on the Great Sanhedrin, Das grosse Synhedrion in Jerusalem und das grosse Beth-din in der Quaderkammer des jerusalemischen Tempels (1902). This work contained his theory of the two Sanhedrins. His articles appeared in learned periodicals in several languages. He made a very important contribution to the history of the synagogue during his stay in Oxford; it was published in the Jewish Quarterly Review (vols. 5, 1893, and 6, 1894), under the title "The Reading of the Law and Prophets in a Triennial Cycle." In these essays he displayed an enormous amount of erudition and initiative. His main theological work appears in Studies in Sin and Atonement in the Rabbinic Literature of the First Century (1928). Part of his work included a probing criticism of E. *Schuerer based on rabbinic sources, emphasizing the religious element of Pharisaism.

The greater part of Buechler's active life was spent at Jews' College. As principal, he was a very exacting man. It was admitted even by his admirers that he did not understand the Anglo-Jewish community any more than the community understood him. He was never completely reconciled to the fact that at Jews' College men were being prepared for the ministry of an Anglo-Jewish community, and he overburdened the students with a type of learning in Juedische Wissenschaft which so far as that community was concerned was superfluous for its clergy. After a great deal of dissatisfaction on the part of many leaders with the affairs of the college, a committee was established to revise the curriculum (1938). Buechler died suddenly during the critical stage of these deliberations. Buechler twice criticized the chief rabbinate at public events at Jews' College. He acidly criticized Chief Rabbi Herman Adler in 1911, disagreeing with the evidence given by the latter at the Divorce Law Commission set up by Parliament. In 1913 he attacked the chief rabbi's court for having granted the rabbinical diploma to a student who, he claimed, should have been examined by the college.

Buechler always maintained a great interest in raising the standard of Jewish education. He failed nevertheless in his attempt to establish a department of pedagogics at Jews' College.

Apart from the works mentioned above, some of his more important monographs are Types of Jewish Palestinian Piety from 70 b.c.e. to 70 c.e. (19682), The Political and Social Leaders of the Jewish Community of Sepphoris in the Second and Third Centuries (1909), and Der galilaeische Am Ha'areṣ des zweiten Jahrhunderts (1906).


Epstein, in: A. Buechler Memorial Volume (1956), xiii–xxii; A.M. Hyamson, Jews College London (1955); jc (Feb. 24, 1939); M. Ben-Horin, in: ajhsq, 56 (1966), 208–31. add. bibliography: G.D. Rosenfeld, "Adolf Buechler," in: R.J.Z. Werblowsky and G. Wigoder (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (1997).

[Alexander Tobias]

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