Christian David Ginsburg - Encyclopedia




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CHRISTIAN DAVID GINSBURG (1831-), Hebrew scholar, was born at Warsaw on the 25th of December 1831. Coming to England shortly after the completion of his education in the Rabbinic College at Warsaw, Dr Ginsburg continued his study of the Hebrew Scriptures, with special attention to the Megilloth. The first result of these studies was a translation of the Song of Songs, with a commentary historical and critical, published in 1857. A similar translation of Ecclesiastes, followed by treatises on the Karaites, on the Essenes and on the Kabbala, kept the author prominently before biblical students while he was preparing the first sections of his magnum opus, the critical study of the Massorah. Beginning in 1867 with the publication of Jacob ben Chajim's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English, with notices, and the Massoreth HaMassoreth of Elias Levita, in Hebrew, with translation and commentary, Dr Ginsburg took rank as an eminent Hebrew scholar. In 1870 he was appointed one of the first members of the committee for the revision of the English version of the Old Testament. His life-work culminated in the publication of the Massorah, in three volumes folio (1880-1886), followed by the Masoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible (1894), and the elaborate introduction to it (1897). Dr Ginsburg had one predecessor in the field, the learned Jacob ben Chajim, who in 1524-1525 published the second Rabbinic Bible, containing what has ever since been known as the Massorah; but neither were the materials available nor was criticism sufficiently advanced for a complete edition. Dr Ginsburg took up the subject almost where it was left by those early pioneers, and collected portions of the Massorah from the countless MSS. scattered throughout Europe and the East. More recently Dr Ginsburg has published Facsimiles of Manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (1897 and 1898), and The Text of the Hebrew Bible in Abbreviations (1903), in addition to a critical treatise "on the relationship of the so-called Codex Babylonicus of A.D. 916 to the Eastern Recension of the Hebrew Text" (1899, for private circulation). In the last-mentioned work he seeks to prove that the St Petersburg Codex, for so many years accepted as the genuine text of the Babylonian school, is in reality a Palestinian text carefully altered so as to render it conformable to the Babylonian recension. He subsequently undertook the preparation of a new edition of the Hebrew Bible for the British and Foreign Bible Society. He also contributed many articles to J. Kitto's Encyclopaedia, W. Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography and the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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