Mueller, David Heinrich

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MUELLER, DAVID HEINRICH (1846–1912), Orientalist. He was born in Buczacz (Galicia), which was also the hometown of his relative S.Y. *Agnon. In his youth Mueller was influenced by *Rappaport, *Zunz, *Krochmal, and *Smolenskin. He studied at the *Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau, but his lack of talent as a preacher forced him to leave the seminary and to specialize in Semitic languages. From 1876 he taught Oriental languages at Vienna University and also lectured at the Vienna Jewish Theological Seminary from its foundation in 1893. In 1889 he was elected a member of the Austro-Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Shortly before his death he was ennobled under the title of Baron Mueller von Deham.

Mueller undertook in 1877 a journey to the Orient which produced a crop of publications on South-Arabian inscriptions, on castles and palaces in that region (2 parts, 1879–81), and a detailed report on this expedition (1878). He also edited S. Langer's journal on his travels in Syria and Arabia and the inscriptions he had discovered (1883); Hamadani's Arabian geography (2 parts, 1884–91); and Ṭabarī's annals (1888–89). Mueller also wrote comparative studies of Semitic languages (1884); on the cuneiform writings discovered at Ashrut Dargha (1886/87); and on the particular division of sibilants in the South-Arabian dialect (1888). His articles in the Vienna Zeitschrift fuer die Kunde des Morgenlandes, of which he was an editor, also dealt with early Semitic epigraphy. A second expedition to South Arabia led by Mueller resulted in several volumes of reports of which Mueller wrote three, dealing mainly with the linguistic and literary discoveries.

When the Code of *Hammurapi was discovered, Mueller wrote on its relationship to the laws of the Pentateuch (1903, translating the Code into biblical Hebrew), and to those of the Syrio-Roman Lawbook (1905). In biblical studies proper (Biblische Studien, 5 vols., 1895–98), Mueller advanced a novel theory on the structure and rhythm of biblical poetry. Mueller, in general, adopted a conservative attitude to the Bible text and was averse to emendations.


G. Rosenmann, in: JJGL, 17 (1914), 145–57; Yeshayahu, in: S. Federbush (ed.), Ḥokhmat Yisrael be-Eiropah (1965), 401f.; Epigraphische Denkmaeler aus Abessinien, nach Abklatschen von J. Theodore Bent, esq. (1894); Epigraphische Denkmaeler aus Arabien (Wien, 1889); Die Haggadah von Sarajevo (1898); Die Mehri-und Soqori-Sprache (1902–07); Das syrischroemische Rechtsbuch und ammurabi (1905); G. Rosenmann, in: Sefer ha-Zikkaron le-Beit ha-Midrash be-Vinah (1946), 24–29.

[Naphtali Herz Tur-Sinai (Torczyner)]