Krochmal, Nachman Aben-shalmon

Krochmal, Nachman Aben-Shalmon, one of the most celebrated Jewish scholars of modern date, was born in Brody Feb. 18,1780. An erudite critic and eminent Hebraist, he was the first among the Jews who, with a rare sagacity and independence of mind, investigated the Hebrew Scriptures, in order to ascertain the origin, unity, and date of each book, as well as to characterize its peculiarity of style and language, irrespective of the fixed traditional opinions held alike by the synagogue and the Church about the authors and ages of the respective canonical volumes (comp. Jost, Gesch. des Judenthumns und seiner Sekten, 3:343). Krochmal, however, on account of feeble health and other infirmities of the flesh, published but little in his lifetime. In many respects he may be likened to the great Jewish philosopher of the 19th century (Mendelsohn), for, like him, he suffered from impaired health, and, like him, he struggled for an education after he had entered the mercantile profession. He also gave much of his time and attention to philosophy, and, as the fruits of his investigations, left in MS. a work entitled More Neboche la-Seman, a treasury of criticisms on Jewish philosophy, Biblical literature, and sacred antiquities, which the learned Dr. Leopold Zunz edited and published at Lemburg in 1851. Compare also Zunz on Krochmal, in Jahrb.fiir Israeliten (1845). Krochmal was an intimate associate of the late Jewish savant Rapoport (q.v.), and is said to have exerted considerable influence over the latter. He died at Tarnopol July 31, 1840. His works, which appeared in the Hebrew annual called Kerem Chemed (vol. 5:Piag. 1841, p. 51 sq.), are, on The Sacred Antiquities and their Import (והבנתן קדמוניות קדש):

1. On the age of the comforting promises in the second part of Isaiah, chap. 40-46, in which he tries to demonstrate the late date of this part of thevolume, and to show that Aben-Ezra was of the same opinion, only that he veiled it in enigmatical language. SEE ABEN-EZRA.

2. On the date and composition of Ezra and Chronicles, with an investigation of the ancient statement on this subject contained in the Talmud, Baba Bathra, 14, b, which is very important. He tries to trace and analyze the different parts of which these books are composed, and to show that they extend to the destruction of the Persian empire.

3. On the date and composition of Ezekiel, the Minor Prophets, Daniel, and Esther, with an examination of the ancient statement on this subject contained in the same passage of the Talmud, which is still more important, inasmuch as Krochmal shows here what is meant by the Great Synagogue, and tries to demonstrate that some portions of the Minor Prophets belong to the period of the Greek empire. 4. On the origin and date of Ecclesiastes, in which he insists that it is the latest composition in the canon. See, besides the authorities already referred to, Ginsburg, in Kitto, Cyclop. Bibl. Lit. ii, s.v.

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