Orientalism is the study of the languages, history, and civilization of the peoples of Asia and, due to the expansion of *Islam, the northern parts of Africa. As Islam, almost from its beginning, widely influenced Jewish thought, Jewish religious and philosophical literature from the 8th century c.e. onward displays a more or less intimate knowledge of Islamic theology, philosophy, and even religious law, not to speak of the subtleties of Arabic language and literature, which did not fail to leave their mark on the corresponding Hebrew and Jewish scholarly productions. The works of men such as *Saadiah, *Judah Halevi, *Maimonides, Abraham *Ibn Ezra, *Baḥya ibn Paquda, Shem Tov b. Joseph *Falaquera, and many others on the above-mentioned subjects, as well as on biblical exegesis and Hebrew grammar and lexicography, were inconceivable without their knowledge, either receptive or polemical, of Arabic and Islam. *Ibn Kammuna even wrote a kind of history of the religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–in which he betrays detailed knowledge of the internal controversies of Christianity and Islam respectively. Jewish scholars occupied themselves with comparative Semitic linguistics long before Christian scholars did. The translators of Arabic works by Jews and of an immense number of books by Muslim authors on Islamic and scientific subjects still await adequate evaluation as Orientalists. Noteworthy were the achievements of the Ibn *Tibbon family and Judah *Al-Ḥarizi. Apart from their own translations, Jews served as mediators between Arabic and Latin from the time that Christian scholars began to study Islamic science. The assessment of the Jewish share in these studies has been enormously facilitated by the bibliographical studies of Moritz *Steinschneider and later scholars, not only as a consequence of many newly discovered literary texts, but especially of the investigation of the thousands of documents of all kinds found in the Cairo *Genizah.
Along with the rise of the "Wissenschaft des Judentums" in the last two centuries, an ever increasing number of Jews studied Orientalia at the universities not only as training for the rabbinate, but also as secular historians, philosophers, and philologists. The pioneers in this field were Abraham *Geiger, Moritz *Steinschneider, Simon *Eppenstein, Samuel *Poznanski, Solomon *Munk, Adolf *Neubauer, Leopold *Dukes, and Alexander *Harkavy. Among their followers were Joseph and Hartwig *Derenbourg, Wilhelm *Bacher, David *Kaufmann, Israel *Friedlaender, Samuel *Landauer, Z. *Fraenkel, Hartwig and Leo *Hirschfeld, Ignaz *Goldziher, Herman *Reckendorf, Jakob *Barth, Gotthold *Weil, Martin *Schreiner, Friedrich Kern, A.S. *Yahuda, Jacob *Mann, Daniel *Chwolson, Eugen *Mittwoch, Saul *Horovitz, Joseph *Horovitz, S.M. *Stern, Kurt Levy, Joseph *Halévi and Eduard *Glaser were among the pioneers of the search for South Arabian inscriptions. Unparalleled in his mastery of the whole field of Oriental studies was Giorgio Levi della Vida. J. Blau, C. Rabin, and M. Goshen-Gottstein all made important contributions to the study of Semitic languages. Julian Joel *Obermann iii, Max Meyerhof, Immanuel *Loew, Paul *Kraus, Franz *Rosenthal, Georges *Vajda, Richard *Walzer and H. Kroner who edited many of the medical works of *Maimonides in their original Arabic, deserve special mention as historians of Arabic literature, philosophy, and sciences. The investigation of Islamic arts owes many of its most valuable achievements to Ernst *Herzfeld, Leo Ary *Mayer, and R. Ettinghausen. Bernard *Lewis, S.D. *Goitein, and H.Z. *Hirschberg excelled in the field of Islamic history, including that of Jewish communities in Islamic lands.
During the 19th century, when the deciphering of the hieroglyphs and the cuneiform scriptures enlarged the field of "Bible Lands," Jewish scholars also turned to these philologies. Morris *Jastrow and Heinrich Zimmern were among the leading Assyriologists, and the unrivaled master of this field was Benno *Landsberger. Other important contributions were made by Herman *Pick and Julius and Hildegard *Lewy.
Among the leading Egyptologists rank Georg Ebers, Georg Steindorff, Ludwig *Borchardt, A. *Ember, and H.J. *Polotsky, who also played an important part in the interpretation of the Coptic Manichaic texts discovered in Egypt. Knowledge of the Mandaic religious literature is due almost entirely to Mark *Lidzbarski, who also was the main cultivator of Semitic epigraphics. The investigation of the Ugaritic texts was greatly furthered by H.L. *Ginsberg and Umberto *Cassuto. Aramaic studies in general were cultivated by Alexander Sperber and E.Y. *Kutscher. Noted Iranists were James *Darmesteter, Isidor *Scheftelowitz, Alexander *Kohut, and Sir Marc Aurel *Stein. Gotthold *Weil and Uriel *Heyd excelled in Turkish philology and history. Some of the leading Indologists were G.S. *Oppert and Moritz *Winternitz. Far Eastern languages were studied by B. Laufer and Arthur *Waley. Israeli scholars who received the prestigious Israel Prize in Oriental studies were Joshua *Blau, linguist in Judeo-Arabic; David *Ayalon, historian of Mamluk society in Egypt; M.J. *Kister, historian of early Islam; Gabriel *Baer, historian of Egyptian society; Havah *Lazarus-Yafeh, philologist; Moshe *Piamenta, researcher of Arabic dialects; Shmuel *Moreh, researcher of Arabic literature; Sasson *Somekh, researcher of Arabic language and literature; and Jacob M. *Landau, political scientist researching the modern Middle East and Central Asia.
[Martin Meir Plessner]