Christian David Ginsburg

Christian David Ginsburg
Born (1831-12-25)25 December 1831
Warsaw, Poland
Died 7 March 1914(1914-03-07) (aged 82)
Palmers Green, Middlesex, England
Nationality British

Christian David Ginsburg (25 December 1831 – 7 March 1914) was a Polish-born British Bible scholar and a student of the Masoretic tradition in Judaism.

He was born to a Jewish family in Warsaw but converted to Christianity at the age of 15.

Coming to England shortly after the completion of his education in the Rabbinic College at Warsaw, Ginsburg continued his study of the Hebrew Scriptures, with special attention to the Megillot. The first result was a translation of the Song of Songs, with a historical and critical commentary, published in 1857. A similar translation of Ecclesiastes, followed by treatises on the Karaites, the Essenes, and 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 Masorah.

Magnum opus

1883 Punch magazine cartoon of Ginsberg with forger Moses Shapira.

Beginning in 1867 with the publication of Jacob ben Hayyim ibn Adonijah's Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible, Hebrew and English, with notices, and the Masoret haMasoret of Elias Levita, in Hebrew, with translation and commentary, 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 under contract with the Trinitarian Bible Society. His life-work culminated in the publication of the Masorah, in three volumes (1880–1886), followed by the Massoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible (1894), and the elaborate introduction to it (1897).

Other works

Ginsburg had one predecessor in the field, the learned Jacob ben Hayyim, who, in 1524-1525, had published the second Rabbinic Bible, containing what has ever since been known as the Masorah, but the materials were not available and criticism was not sufficiently advanced for a complete edition. Ginsburg took up the subject almost where it was left off by those early pioneers, and he collected portions of the Masorah from the countless manuscripts scattered throughout Europe and the East.

Ginsburg 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 that was 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 John Kitto's Encyclopaedia, William Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography and the Encyclopædia Britannica (1877–1887).


Selected bibliography

External links

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Christian David Ginsburg
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