Geiger, Abraham

Geiger, Abraham a Jewish rabbi of Germany, was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, May 24, 1810. He studied at Heidelberg and Bonn, and won the prize for an essay on a question proposed by the Bonn philosophical faculty, On the Sources of the Koran, which was printed in 1833 with the title, Was hat Mohamed aus dem Judenthum aufgenommen? In November 1832, he was invited to fill the rabbinical chair at Wiesbaden, which lie quitted in 1838 for Breslau. In 1868 he was elected chief rabbi in his native town, which appointment he held until 1869, when he was called to Berlin, where he died, October 23, 1874. As early as i835, Geiger published his Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrifi fur judische Theologie, which was discontinued in 1847. In 1862 he began the Judische Zeitschrift, a periodical devoted to Jewish literature, but important also for the Christian student. In addition to this he published monographs on Maimonides, on the exegetical school of the rabbis in the north of France on Elijah del Medigo, and on many other learned Jews of the Middle Ages. He contributed also to Hebrew periodicals numerous articles on Rabbinical literature, as well as to the Journal of the German Oriental Society, chiefly on Syrian and Samaritan literature. His Reading-book on the Mishnah is full of grammatical and lexicographical notes of the highest importance for the appreciation of the particular dialects of the Mishnah and the Talmud. His main work, however, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel (1857), which advocates the theory that the Sadducees derived their name from the high- priest Zadoc, contains the results of twenty years' study, and is still very important for Biblical criticisms, especially in reference to the Samaritan text of the Pentateuch, and to that of the Septuagint. Geiger, from the very outset of his career, belonged to the party who were anxious to reform the Jewish synagogue in accordance with the necessities of the age, without, however, entirely breaking with the traditions of the past; and though a reformer of the Reformers, yet in his Das Judenthum und seine Geschichte (1865-71, 3 volumes), Geiger shows himself a narrow-minded and bigoted Jew, by making Jesus a follower of rabbi Hillel, and by asserting that ''Jesus never uttered a new thought." After his death, Ludwig Geiger, a son of Abraham, published Nachgelassene Schriften (Berlin, 1875-77, 5 volumes), containing some older essays, formerly published, and other material from Geiger's manuscripts. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 1:324 sq.; Steinschneider, in Magazin fur die Literatur des Auslandes (Berlin, 1874); Berthold Auerbach, in Die Gegenwart (1874, No. 45); Morais, Eminient Israelites of the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia, 1880), page 92 sq.; Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences Religieuses, s.v. (B.P.)

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