Empereur, Constantijn L'°

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EMPEREUR, CONSTANTIJN L' ° (1591–1648), Dutch Calvinist theologian and Christian Hebraist. L'Empereur pursued an academic career as a theologian. Only following his appointment to the professorship of Hebrew at the University of Leiden (1627) did he start to study rabbinical literature seriously. Within six years he published several (fairly competent) editions of rabbinical works, most of them with a parallel Latin translation and annotations, meant to facilitate the study and use of Jewish literature. He paid *Menasseh ben Israel and Isaac *Aboab da Fonseca to assist him in his studies. His books did not sell well. His emphasis on rabbinical literature in his lectures was not well received by the students and professors of the theological faculty, and he was ordered to focus on biblical Hebrew. In 1633 he was passed over in a fiercely contested appointment to a professorship in the faculty of theology. To compensate him, the board of the university raised his salary, and justified this unusual generosity by appointing him to a spurious professorship of Jewish controversies, which did not entail any duties. In 1637 he published an edition, translation, and commentary on the tractate Bava Kamma, a highly original (although implicitly antisemitic) work in which he compared its rulings with the corresponding legislations of Roman Law. In 1647 he was, finally, appointed to a professorship in the faculty of theology.


P. van Rooden, Theology, Biblical Scholarship and Rabbinical Studies in the Seventeenth Century (1989).

[Peter van Rooden (2nd ed.)]