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Goldschmidt, Lazarus


GOLDSCHMIDT, LAZARUS (1871–1950), scholar, bibliophile, and translator of the Talmud into German. Goldschmidt, who was born in Plongian, Lithuania, studied first at the Slobodka yeshivah at Kaunas (Kovno) and later at the universities of Berlin and Strasbourg. His early studies were devoted to Ethiopian language and its literature. He published the Ethiopic version of the Book of Enoch (i Enoch) with Hebrew translation (1892) and Biblioteca Ethiopica (1895). Goldschmidt published an edition of the Sefer Yeẓirah (1894), a Hebrew translation of the Koran (1916), and prepared a new edition of Jacob Levy's Woerterbuch zum Talmud und Midrasch (1924). On the rise of Hitler to power in 1933 Goldschmidt left Germany for England and lived in London. His bibliographical works include Hebrew Incunables (1948), and the Earliest Editions of the Hebrew Bible (1950). Some of his works were published under the pseudonym Arselaj bar Bargelaj.

Goldschmidt's major contribution was his translation of the entire Babylonian Talmud into German. It appeared in two editions, a nine-volume work containing the original text and variant readings (1897–1935) and a 12-volume edition without the original text (1929–36). This translation, which was severely criticized by David Zvi *Hoffman (zhb 1, 1896), was nevertheless considered to be an important and standard work in talmudic studies. Goldschmidt also prepared a subject concordance to the Babylonian Talmud which was published posthumously (1959). He also published a facsmile edition of the Hamburg manuscript of the order Nezikin of the Babylonian Talmud (1913). A controversial figure who engaged in sharp personal polemics against leading scholars of his time (Immanuel Loew, David Hoffman, and others), he published a number of pamphlets attacking his adversaries. In his youth, he published as a practical joke an Aramaic text entitled Baraita de-Ma'aseh Bereshit (1894), which he claimed to be an old midrash. Later he admitted that this was a parody. Goldschmidt was a collector of rare books. Because of his forced emigration to London in 1933 the Royal Library in Copenhagen bought his collection, which is known as the Goldschmidt Collection..


E. Neufeld, in: Synagogue Review, 16 (Dec. 16, 1941), no. 4.

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