Widmanstetter, Johann Albrecht°

views updated


WIDMANSTETTER, JOHANN ALBRECHT ° (Widmanstadius , or Lucrecius ; 1506–1557), Austrian statesman, humanist, and Orientalist. An outstanding Catholic scholar, Widmanstetter became chancellor of Lower Austria and rector of the University of Vienna. He traveled widely, learning Arabic in Spain and Hebrew among Spanish Jewish exiles in Naples. He was also able to conduct a correspondence in Hebrew and his bookplate was phrased in Latin, Hebrew, and Syriac. Widmanstetter's teachers included Johann Reuchlin, David b. Joseph ibn Yaḥya, Baruch of Benevento, and Benjamin d'Arignano. In 1529, he met the Christian Hebraist Egidio (Aegidius) da *Viterbo in Venice, and three years later attended lectures on the Kabbalah held at the Naples home of Judah Abrabanel's brother Samuel. Widmanstetter collaborated with Guillaume *Postel in the publication of the first edition of the Syriac New Testament (Vienna, 1555) and attributed errors in the Koran to the influence of the Kabbalah. He collected many rare Hebrew and Oriental manuscripts and printed works (some obtained from Elijah Levita), which were later bequeathed to the Munich Royal Library.


J. Perles, Beitraege zur Geschichte der hebraeischen und aramaeischen Studien (1884), 184f.; M. Mueller, Johann Albrecht von Widmanstetter (1907); U. Cassuto, Gli ebrei a Firenze nell' età del Rinascimento (1918, s.v.; H. Striedl, in: Franz Babinger Studies (1952); F. Secret, Les kabbalistes chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 121–3; Baron, Social2, 13 (1969), 180, 397, 405.

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]