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Pellicanus (Pellikan), Conrad°


PELLICANUS (Pellikan ), CONRAD ° (Kursiner, Kuers(ch)-ner , also known as Pellicanus Rubeaquensis ; 1478–1556), German *Hebraist and Bible scholar. Born in Rouffach, Alsace, Pellicanus entered the Franciscan order in 1493. He first obtained Hebrew manuscripts of the Prophets from the convert Johannes *Pauli, an eminent Rhenish preacher, and it was the laborious study of these manuscripts which determined his subsequent scholarly career. In Tuebingen he met Johann *Reuchlin, and on his encouragement began copying Hebrew texts; later he learned Aramaic and translated books on grammar and Kabbalah. One of the pioneer Christian Hebraists of Northern Europe, Pellicanus was the first Christian to publish a Hebrew grammar, De modo legendi et intelligendi Hebraeum (Strasbourg, 1504), a forerunner of Reuchlin's De rudimentis Hebraicis. After teaching Bible in Basle (1502–07) and Rouffach (1508–11), he became a wandering scholar for some years. He visited the library of *Trithemius in Sponheim, met Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples in Paris, and copied and acquired Hebrew books. In 1519 he became Guardian in his order's monastery in Basle, where he again met his old friend and pupil, Sebastian *Muenster. By publishing *Luther's writings in 1520, Pellicanus contributed decisively to the Reformation in Basle. This, however, led to a conflict with the order, and he was deposed from his Guardianship (1523). Pellicanus was then appointed professor of theology at Basle University, but in 1526 he accepted a call from the Swiss reformer Huldreich (Ulrich) Zwingli, an old friend and colleague, to become professor of Hebrew at Zurich. By then he had married, and formally embraced Protestantism.

Pellicanus was a prominent collaborator in the Zwinglian Bible translations into German; he published a voluminous Commentaria Bibliorum (Zurich, 1532–39), which reveals his wide reading in the Christian Kabbalah. He translated many rabbinic works, including Genesis Rabbah and commentaries on the Pentateuch by Abraham Ibn Ezra and Bahya b. Asher, as well as part of Guillaume *Postel's version of the Zohar on Genesis. He also copied Gerard *Veltwyck's Shevilei Tohu and Postel's kabbalistic treatise on the Candelabrum (Or Nerot ha-Menorah), both of which he translated into Latin. These have been preserved in manuscript in Zurich.


M. Adam, Vitae germanorum theologorum (Frankfurt, 16532), 262–99; E. Silberstein, Conrad Pellicanus; ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Studiums der hebraeischen Sprache in der ersten Haelfte des xvi. Jahrhunderts (1900); F. Secret, Le Zôhar chez les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (19642), index; idem, in: Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 22 (1960), 389ff.; idem, Les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), index; idem, G. Postel (15101581) et son Interprétation du Candélabre de Moyse en hébreu, latin, italien et français (1966), introd. and 33ff.; Baron, Social2, 13 (1969), 164, 166, 169, 394–5; G.E. Weil, Élie Lévita, Humaniste et Massorète (14691549) (1963), 10–25, 248–54. add. bibliography: B. Riggenbach (ed.), Das Chronikon des Konrad Pellikan (1877/1980) (autobiography, in Latin); Ch. Zuercher, Konrad Pellikans Wirken in Zuerich… (1975) (with bibliography).

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman /

Aya Elyada (2nd ed.)]

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