Ginsburg, Christian David

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GINSBURG, CHRISTIAN DAVID (1831–1914), Bible scholar. Born in Warsaw, he converted to Christianity in 1846 and soon afterward moved to England. Through two successive marriages to women of wealth he was able to pursue scholarship without ever holding an academic post. In England Ginsburg devoted himself to research on the masoretic text of the Bible; The Massorah (his magnum opus), published between 1880–1905 in four volumes, is the fruit of his labor. In the first two volumes, the original text of the masorah (in Hebrew) is arranged alphabetically with many additional notes drawn from manuscripts. The third volume contains supplements, and some masoretic tractates; the fourth renders into English all Hebrew entries of the first volume up to the letter "yod," with explanatory notes. In his work, Ginsburg amassed rich and rare material; some of it, however, is not accurate. He also published two standard editions of the Hebrew Bible (1894, 1911) based on the same research. In Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (1897, repr. 1966) and in A Series of 15 Facsimiles of MSS of the Hebrew Bible (1897; second edition: A Series of 18 Facsimiles …, 1898), he explains his system. In 1904, on the occasion of its centennial, the British Bible Society entrusted Ginsburg with the publication of a new critical Hebrew Bible text; it was completed only in 1926. Before his death, however, he edited and published the Pentateuch (1908), Isaiah (1909), the Prophets (1911), and Psalms (1913). In his research he based himself on 75 manuscripts and 25 earlier Bible editions.

Ginsburg also wrote commentaries on the Song of Songs (1857), Ecclesiastes (1861), Leviticus (1882); and published The Karaites, their History and Literature (1862); The Essenes (1864); The Kabbalah, Its Doctrines, Development and Literature (1863, 19202); Massoret ha-Massoret, by Elijah *Levita, with an English translation and critical explanatory notes (1867); Jacob b. Chajim ibn Adonijah's Introduction to the Mikra'ot Gedolot Bible edition (Hebrew and English) with explanatory notes (1867, repr. 1968); The Moabite Stone (1870). He also published the New Testament in Hebrew, translated by the convert J.E. Salkinson (1885). Ginsburg spent the last years of his life in Middlesex. His collection of Bible manuscripts is in the possession of the British Bible Society.


C.D. Ginsburg, Introduction to the Massoretico-Critical Edition of the Hebrew Bible (1966), introduction by H.M. Orlinsky; C.D. Ginsburg, Commentary to Jacob ben Chajim ibn Adonijah's Rabbinic Bible and E. Levita's Massoret ha-Massoret (1968), introduction by N. Snaith. add. bibliography: J. Hayes, in: dbi, 1, 448–49.