Lightfoot, John°

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LIGHTFOOT, JOHN ° (1602–1675), English Hebraist and Bible scholar. Lightfoot, a Puritan, was master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, from 1650 and three years later he became vice-chancellor of Cambridge University. He began studying Hebrew after his ordination, but at first gave his attention to Bible research on scientific lines, publishing works such as Harmonia, Chronica el Ordo Veteris Testamenti (1647). However, he soon turned to rabbinic literature, a field in which he became the outstanding Christian authority of his time, showing a remarkable expertise in talmudic and midrashic scholarship. He published a Descriptio Templi Hierosolymitani (1650), on the Temple of Herod, and Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae (1658–74), a study of the rabbinic sources of and background to the New Testament gospels. His first venture in Hebraica, published at the outset of his career, had been Erubhin; or Miscellanies, Christian and Judaical, and others… (London, 1629), and as a result of his unusual and objective investigation of rabbinic literature Lightfoot was accused of "rabbinism." He contributed to Bryan *Walton's Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (London Polyglot Bible; 1654–57), revising the Samaritan Pentateuch and specially preparing a geography of Palestine for the work. A Latin edition of his complete writings was later issued by his contemporary, Johann *Leusden, professor of Hebrew at Utrecht.


D.M. Welter, J. Lightfoot, the English Hebraist (1878); dnb, 33 (1893), 229ff.

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]