Lidzbarski, Mark

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LIDZBARSKI, MARK (Abraham Mordecai ; 1868–1928), Semitist. Lidzbarski was born in Plock, Russian Poland, to Moritz and Cäcilie Lidzbarski, and received a strict Orthodox education. At 14 he ran away from home and went to Posen, Prussian Poland, where he studied at the gymnasium. He continued his studies at the University of Berlin, living in difficult conditions. As a student in Berlin he converted to Evangelical Christianity. In 1896 he began lecturing in Oriental languages at the University of Kiel; in 1907, at the University of Greifswald; and in 1917, at the University of Goettingen. He was a corresponding member of the Goettingen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften from 1912 to 1918, when he became a full member.

Lidzbarski was a scholar of high repute in several branches of Semitic studies. He may be considered the founder of Semitic epigraphy; several of his articles and books still may be consulted with great profit, including Die neuaramaeischen Handschriften der Koeniglichen Bibliothek zu Berlin (2 vols., in 3, 1896), Handbuch der nordsemitischen Epigraphik (2 vols., 1898, repr. 1962), Ephemeris fuer semitische Epigraphik (3 vols., 1900–15), and Kanaanaeische Inschriften (1907) in the series Altsemitische Texte. His contribution to the 29th edition of Gesenius' Hebraeische Grammatik is of major importance. Lidzbarski also contributed much to Mandean studies. His theory that the gnostic Mandeans originated in Palestine in pre-Christian times as a heterodox Jewish group was in vogue among scholars for a time but no longer enjoys wide support. However, his editions of the Mandean texts Das Johannesbuch der Mandaeer (2 vols., 1905–15, repr. 1966), Mandaeische Liturgien in the series Abhandlungen der Koeniglichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Goettingen (1920, repr. 1962), and Altaramaeische Urkunden aus Assur in the series Wissenschaftliche Veroeffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft (1921) have made these accessible to scholars. Lidzbarski's autobiography, Auf rauhem Wege ("On the Rough Road," 1927), was published anonymously.


W. Baumgartner, in: Neue Zuercher Zeitung (July 14, 1968), 51. add. bibliography: K.G. Wesseling, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, 5:29–31.

[David Diringer]