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Wolf, Johann Christoph°


WOLF, JOHANN CHRISTOPH ° (1683–1739), German bibliographer, *Hebraist, and Orientalist. Born at Wernigerode (Prussia). Wolf studied Hebrew at Wittenberg University and, during study tours in Holland and England, met such Christian Hebraists as Vitringa, *Surenhuis, *Reland, and *Basnage. He became professor of Oriental languages and literature at the Hamburg gymnasium (1712) and was an ardent collector of Hebrew books and manuscripts. Deciding to devote himself to publishing a full list of all extant Hebrew books, he utilized the noted David *Oppenheim collection at Hanover for this purpose. The result of Wolf's research was his Bibliotheca Hebraea in 4 volumes (Hamburg, 1715–33).

Volume 1 (1715) contains an alphabetical list of Jewish authors with biographical notes. Volume 2 (1721) is divided into subject headings such as Bible, Apocrypha, Masorah, Mishnah, Talmud, Kabbalah, Hebrew grammar and antisemitic literature, with a short description of the nature of the books listed. Volumes 3 (1727) and 4 (1733) are supplements to the first two. Although he drew upon the works of bibliographers who preceded him (especially *Bartolocci and *Bass), Wolf offered in his Bibliotheca thousands of corrections and additions to the works of his predecessors. In 1829, when the Oppenheimer library was acquired by Oxford University for the *Bodleian collection, M. *Steinschneider used Wolf's Bibliotheca as the basis for the compilation of his Bodleian catalogue, referring to Wolf's work on almost every page. Until Steinschneider's catalogue, Wolf's Bibliotheca was considered the best Jewish bibliography, and Christian scholars for over a century and a half derived their knowledge on such works as the Mishnah and Talmud from Wolf's book.

Wolf also wrote a history of Hebrew lexicons (his Ph.D. dissertation at Wittenberg, 1705) and a book on the *Karaites, Notitia Karaeorum (Hamburg, 1714). He bequeathed his library, containing some 25,000 Hebrew books and manuscripts, to the city library of Hamburg.


Zunz, Gesch, 14–15; Bertheau, in: adb, 44 (1898), 545–8; Steinschneider, in: zhb, 5 (1901), 84, no. 417; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, xxxiv–xxxvi; 2730–32, no. 7394 (here called: Wolfius (Jos. Christoph)). add. bibliography: C.G. Joecher, Allgemeines Gelehrten Lexicon (1751) [1961], 2053–2055 (with bibl. of Wolf's works); Sh. Brisman, A History and Guide to Judaic Bibliography (1977), 13–15.

[Abraham Meir Habermann /

Aya Elyada (2nd ed.)]

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