Schultens, Albert an eminent Dutch Orientalist, the father of modern Hebrew grammar, was born at Groningen, 1686, and early destined to a theological career. He studied the original languages of the Bible — Chaldee, Syriac, and Rabbinic — and after a time Arabic. The earliest fruit of these studies was a public disputation with Gussetius, at the age of eighteen, in which he maintained that the study of Arabic is indispensably necessary to a knowledge of Hebrew. After completing his studies, he visited Leyden and Utrecht, and became acquainted with Reland, through whom he published his first book, Animadv. Philolog. in Jobum (Utrecht, 1708, 8vo). Having returned to his home, he became candidate in theology, and in the following year (July 4, 1709) received the degree of doctor in that science. He then returned to Leyden to make use of its library. In 1711 he assumed the pastorate of the Church at Wassenaer, but exchanged that post after two years for the chair of Oriental languages in the Academy of Franeker. In 1729 he was placed in charge of the Leyden Theological Seminary and made custodian of the Warner MSS. He served three years, doing the work of a professor without enjoying the title or receiving any remuneration, after which period a chair of Arabic was specially created for him, with which the additional professorship of Hebrew antiquities was connected in 1740. He held these positions without interruption to the time of his death, Jan. 26, 1750.
The services which Schultens rendered to philological science are of great value. He was the first to overturn the notion that Hebrew is the original language given to man by God, by showing that that tongue is simply a branch of the Shemitic family, and finds an essential and indispensable aid in the comparison of the Arabic. Besides defending this position in his early disputation with Gussetius, he enforced its claims in the work Origines Hebroeoe. This opened a new path to Hebrew grammar and Biblical exegesis, and also contributed materially to the advancement of the study of Oriental languages and the attainment of its subsequent independent position. Numerous pupils helped to spread the knowledge of his views and methods, and founded the Dutch school of grammar and exegesis. The faults of Schultens are too great readiness in the tracing of analogies and the forming of combinations, and a lack of thorough criticism in the application of the Arabic.
Of the writings of Schultens, aside from the purely Arabic — such as editions of the Rudimenta (1733) and the Grammatica (1748) of Erpenius: — Vita Saladini (Lugd. Bat. 1733, fol.): — Monum. Vetustiora Arab. (Leyd. 1740, 4to): — Historia Joctinidarum (Harderov. 1786, 4to) — we mention those which have reference to Hebrew grammar and Biblical literature: Origines Hebroeoe, etc. (Franeker, 1734-38, 2 vols. 4to), and a preliminary work, De Defectibus Hodiernoe Linguoe Hebr. (ibid. 1731, 4to; new ed. of both works, Leyd. 1761, 2 vols. 4to): — Institutiones ad Fundam. Linguoe Hebr., etc. (Leyd. 1737, 1756, 4to): — Vetus et Regia Via Hebraizandi, etc. (Lugd. 1738), a rejoinder to his opponents, which he carries further in Excursus Primus ad Caput Primum Vice Veteris et
Reqioe Hebraizandi, etc., and Excursus Secundus and Tertius (Leyd. 1739, 4to): — Institutiones Aramoeoe (Lugd. Bat. 1745-49), a work containing a Chaldee and Syriac grammar, without preface or other guide to inquiry, and probably interrupted by the author's death, as it is broken off in the middle. Of his exegetical works the chief are, Liber Jobi, Nova Versione ad Hebr. Fontem et Comment., etc. (Lugd. Bat. 1737, 2 vols. 4to): — Proverbia Salomonis, etc. (ibid. 1748, 4to), an abridgment of which was published by G.J.L. Vogel (Halle, 1769, 8vo). Ten separately printed dissertations and addresses were published by his son in Opera Minora, etc. (Ludg. 1769, 4to), and also a number of dissertations read before him by his pupils, in Sylloge Diss. Philolog.-exeget. (Leidas et Leovard. pars 1, 1772; pars 2, 1775, 4to). Schultens left also several commentaries and a Hebrew lexicon in MS. See Vriemoet, Elogium Schultensii, in Athenoe Frisiacoe, p. 762-771; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.