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Franck, Adolphe


FRANCK, ADOLPHE (Jacob ; 1809–1893), French philosopher and writer. Franck, who was born at Liocourt, studied Talmud under Marchand Ennery, and later studied medicine and philosophy. He taught philosophy at several lycées (from 1840 in Paris) and lectured at the Sorbonne. In 1844 he was elected to the French Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, later being appointed to the Collège de France as extraordinary professor of ancient philosophy (1849–52) and professor of natural and international law (1854–86). In 1850 he represented the Jewish faith on the Conseil Supérieur de l'Instruction Publique. He was vice president of the Consistoire Israélite and later president of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. Franck took part in the activities of the French society for the translation of the Bible and the Societé des Etudes Juives (whose chairman he became in 1888). In 1870 he interceded in Bucharest with Prince Carol in favor of the Romanian Jews. Franck, who defended Judaism in several works, conceived of it as an idealistic expression of monotheism and vigorously opposed pantheism, atheism, materialism, and communism. He established and managed the journal of the anti-atheistic league, La Paix Sociale, and was coeditor of the Journal des Savants, and contributor to the Journal des Débats and the Archives Israélites. His works on general philosophy and the history of philosophy include Esquisse d'une histoire de la logique (1838); Le communisme jugé par l'histoire (1848); Philosophie de droit pénal (1864), in which Franck and others advanced the case against capital punishment; Philosophie du droit ecclésiastique (1864); La philosophie mystique en France à la fin du xviiiesiècle (1866); Philosophie et religion (1857); and Philosophes modernes (1879); he also edited the Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques (6 vols., 1844–52; 18853).

Franck's chief work is in the field of Jewish studies: La Kabbale ou philosophie religieuse des hébreux (Paris, 1843; 18923; The Kabbalah; or the Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews, 1926). This is the first attempt at a comprehensive, scientific description of the beginnings and contents of the Kabbalah in popular form. In the last (third) part Franck examines the religious and philosophic doctrines with which the Kabbalah has some traits in common (Platonism, the Alexandrinian school, the teachings of Philo, Christianity, the religions of the Chaldeans and the Persians). Two discussions on the Ḥasidim and the Frankists are appended. Franck's premises and hypotheses (early date for the beginnings of the Kabbalah; authenticity of Sefer *Yeẓirah; Persian influence) were strongly opposed (by Steinschneider, Jellinek, Jost, and Joel, among others). Other works of his of Jewish scholarly content are Sur les sectes juives avant le christianisme (1853); La religion et la science dans le judaisme (1882); and Le panthéisme oriental et le monothéisme hébreu (1889). His articles on Jewish subjects (all of which appeared in Archives Israélites) include: "De la Création" (1845); "Le rôle des juives dans la civilisation" (1855); and "Le péché original et la femme" (1885).


H. Derenbourg, in: rej, 4 (1882), 3–11; A. Kohut, Beruehmte israelitische Maenner und Frauen (1901); D.H. Joel, Die Religionsphilosophie des Zohar (1923); Jost, in: Literaturblatt des Orients, 6 (1845), 811; M. Steinschneider, Jewish Literature from the Eighth to the Eighteenth Century (1965), 299, 301; Pivacet, in: Revue internationale de l'enseignement, 40 (1920).

[Joseph Elijah Heller]

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