Simon Ockley - Encyclopedia

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SIMON OCKLEY (1678-1720), English orientalist, was born at Exeter in 1678. He was educated at Queen's College, Cambridge, became fellow of Jesus College and vicar of Swavesey, and in 1711 was made professor of Arabic at Cambridge. He had a large family, and the pecuniary embarrassments of his later days form the subject of a chapter in D'Israeli's Calamities of Authors. The preface to the second volume of his History of the Saracens is dated from Cambridge Castle, where he was imprisoned for debt. Ockley maintained that a knowledge of Oriental literature was essential to the proper study of theology, and in the preface to his first book, the Introductio ad linguas orientales (1706), he urges the importance of the study. In 1707 he published a translation of Leon Modena's History of the Present Jews throughout. the World; and in 1708 The Improvement of Human Reason, exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan. His chief work is The History of the Saracens (1708-1718), of which a third volume was published posthumously in 1757. Unfortunately Ockley took as his main authority a MS. in the Bodleian of the pseudo-Wakidi's Futuh al-Sham, which is rather historical romance than history. He also translated from the Arabic the Second Book of Esdras and the Sentences of Ali. Ockley died at Swavesey on the 9th of August 1720.

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