Houbigant, Charles FrançoIs
Houbigant, Charles François A French priest of the Oratory, and an eminent Biblical scholar, was born at Paris in 1686. He joined his order in 1704, and soon became distinguished for his great attainments. He lectured successively on belles- letters at Jeuilly, on rhetoric at Marseilles, and on philosophy at Soissons, and was called to Paris in 1722 to conduct the conferences of St. Magloire. His devotion to the duties required by these new offices produced a serious illness, which terminated in total deafness. Being thus incapacitated for public duty, he devoted all his time to study, applying himself especially to the Oriental languages. Towards the close of his long career, his intellectual faculties became impaired in consequence of a fall. He died at Paris October 31, 1783. In 1772 he founded a school for girls at Avilly, where he had a country residence, and at his death he left an annual income of 175 francs to that institution. His principal amusement was to set in type and print his works himself, and for that purpose he established a printing room in his country house. He wrote Racines de la Lungue Hebraique (Paris, 1732, 8vo) in verse, in imitation of the Racines-Grecques of Rort- Roval. In the preface Houbigant defends Masclefs system, and attempts to prove the uselessness and danger of vowel points in the study of Hebrew
— — Prolegomena in Scripturam Sacrum (Paris, 1746, 4to). In this work he follows Cappel, seeking to prove that the original text of the O.T. has undergone alterations which, without touching on points of dogma or of morals, tend to obscure the sense; and he gives rules by which these faults, due mostly to the carelessness of copyists, may be discovered and corrected — Conferences de Metz. In this work, published without name of place or date, he gives a popular expose of the principles of criticism developed in the preceding work — Psalmi Hebraici mendis quam plurimis expurgati (Leyden, 1748. 16mo), the text corrected according to the principles laid down by the author in his Prolegomena — Biblia Hebraica cunz notis criticis et versione Latina ad notas criticasfacta; accedunt libri Graeci qui deutero-canonici vocantur, in fres classes dis. tributi (Paris, 1753 and 1754, 4 vols. fol.). This work, which cost its author twenty years' labor, was published by the Congregation of the Oratory at an expense of e 40,000 francs. It is very carefully executed, and is printed in two columns, one containing the text and the other the translation. The text, printed without vowel points, is but a reprint of Van der Hooght's edition of 1705. The corrections proposed by Houbigant (who makes no account of the Keri and Kethlib of the Masorites), are placed either in the margin or in the form of tables at the end of each volume. The corrections of the Pentateuch are taken from the Samaritan Codex, to which Houbigant, as well as Morin, attached undue importance; others are taken from various MSS. belonging to the Congregation of the Oratory, or to the Imperial Library of Paris, but are not fully indicated by him; a large number, finally, are merely conjectural, and derived from the application of his principles of criticism contained in the Prolegomena. These corrections have not received the approbation of competent judges. Houbigant appears not to have had a very clear idea of the relative value of his authorities, and he has been accused of want of thoroughness in his knowledge of Hebrew, as well as of arbitrariness in his corrections. The Latin translation was published separately, under the title Veteris Testamenti versio nova (Paris, 1753, 5 vols. 8vo); the critical notes and Prolegomena have also been printed separately, under the title Notao Criticae in universos Veteris Testamenti libros, cum laebraiae tum Graeae scriptos, cum integris Prolegomenis, ad exemplar Parisiense denuo recensce (Francf. ad Main, 1777, 2 vols. 4to). Houbigant translated bishop Sherlock's Sermons and Leslie's Meeting with the Deist into French. He left a large number of MSS. which were never published. See Cadry, Notice sur la Vie et les Ouvrages du P. Houbigant (in the Magasin
Encyclopedique, May, 1806) ( G. W. Meyer, Gesch. d. Schrifterklar. 4, 154-156, 264-270, 465, 466; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Geschl, 25, 20, 241 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 2, 158; Schröckh, Kirchengesch. s. d. Ref. 7, 168; 8, 50.