Goldziher, Ignaz

views updated


GOLDZIHER, IGNAZ (Isaac Judah ; 1850–1921), Hungarian scholar, one of the founders of modern Islamic scholarship. Goldziher, born in Szekesfehervar (Stuhlweissenburg), studied Arabic manuscripts at Leyden and Vienna, and traveled in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria before becoming a lecturer at the University of Budapest in 1872. As his university teaching was unpaid until he became a professor in 1904, he earned his living as secretary of the Budapest Neolog Jewish community for 30 years. In 1900 he succeeded D. *Kaufmann as professor of religious philosophy at the Budapest Rabbinical Seminary. Goldziher was elected a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences long before his appointment to a professorship in the university. He was respected by Muslim scholars and received queries from them; he was invited to lecture at Fuad University in Cairo but did not accept the position. When the Jewish National Home was established in Palestine after World War i, it was hoped that Goldziher would use his influence in the Muslim world to help bring about a rapprochement between Jews and Arabs, but he was far from being a Zionist, and refused to act on this matter. Goldziher was the first to describe critically and comprehensibly the history of Islamic oral tradition (*ḥadith) and the various Islamic sects; he published many studies, still valuable, on pre-Islamic and Islamic culture, the religious and legal history of the Arabs, and their ancient and modern poetry. He was one of the initiators of the Enzyklopaedie des Islām (4 vols., 1913–36), and was among its contributors. Goldziher's principal works in this field are Beitraege zur Literaturgeschichte der Schiʿa und der sunnitischen Polemik (1874), Die Zâhiriten … (1884), Muhammedanische Studien (2 vols., 1889–90), Eng. tr. Muslim Studies, ed. by S.M. Stern (1967), Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie (2 vols., 1896–99), Vorlesungen ueber den Islam (1910, 19252), and Die Richtungen der islamischen Koranauslegung (1920). Goldziher also made valuable contributions to Jewish scholarship. At the age of 12 he published Si'aḥ Yiẓḥak, an essay on the Jewish prayers. His doctoral dissertation was devoted to the 13th-century Arab-Jewish philologist and Bible commentator *Tanḥum Yerushalmi. He wrote for Hungarian and German Jewish periodicals and in various Festschriften on problems of Jewish scholarship, in particular about the relations between Islam and Judaism, and on Muslim criticism of the Pentateuch, the Talmud, and the "people of the book" in general. Goldziher's Islamic and Jewish studies complemented each other; he was able to draw many parallels between the two religions, pointing out their differences as well.

Among his major publications in Jewish studies are Der Mythos bei den Hebraeern … (1876; Mythology among the Hebrews …, 1877), "Mélanges judéo-arabes" (in rej, vols. 43–60, 1901–10), and "Islamische und juedische Philosophie des Mittelalters" and "Religion des Islams," in Die Kultur der Gegenwart (vol. 1 pt. 3, 1906). With W. Wundt and H. Oldenberg he edited Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie (1909). Goldziher reviewed critically various editions of the Arabic originals of important medieval philosophical and halakhic texts and he himself edited pseudo-Baḥya's Kitâb Maʿânî al-Nafs (1907). He also wrote on modern Hebrew poetry (in jqr, 14 [1902], 719–36). His general views on Judaism were presented in A zsidóság lényege és fejlödése ("Essence and Evolution of Judaism," 2 vols., 1923–24), and in a lecture delivered in Stockholm ("Tradition und Dogma" in azdj, 78 (1914), 6–8, 22–23, 33–35; Eng. tr. in Reform Advocate, 47 (1914), 39–42). Goldziher served on the editorial board of the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901–06), to which he contributed many articles. An Ignace Goldziher Memorial Volume was published in two parts (1948–58) by S. Loewinger, J. Somogyi, and A. Scheiber. A collection of his writings was edited in three volumes by J. Somogyi as Gesammelte Schriften (1967–69), and a bibliography of his works was published by B. Heller, Bibliographie des oeuvres … (1927) and of his Hebrew writings was compiled by S.D. Goitein (in ks, 23 (1946/47), 251–7). His memoirs, covering the years 1890–1919, were edited by A. Scheiber and published as Tagebuch in 1978. After his death, Goldziher's valuable library and his extensive scholarly correspondence were acquired by the National and University Library in Jerusalem.


H. Loewe, Ignaz Goldziher (Ger., 1929); A.S. Yahuda, in: jc Literary Supplement (April 25, 1924); idem, in: Der Jude, 8 (1924), 575–92; L. Massignon, in: B. Heller, Bibliographie des oeuvres de Ignace Goldziher (1927), introduction; M. Plessner, in: I. Goldziher, Harẓa'ot 'al ha-Islam (1951), 289–309; J. Nemeth, in: Acta Orientalia Academiae Hungariae, 1 (1950–51), 7–24; S. Loewinger, in: S. Federbusch (ed.), Ḥokhmat Yisrael be-Ma'arav Eiropah (1958), 166–81. add. bibliography: L.I. Conrad, "Ignaz Goldziher …," in: M. Kramer (ed.), The Jewish Discovery of Islam (1999), 137–80).

[Martin Meir Plessner]