David Ginsburg 1831-1914
Ginsburg was a Hebrew and biblical scholar who was the foremost authority in England on the Masorah (authoritative Jewish tradition concerning the correct text of the Hebrew Bible).
He was born in Warsaw Dec. 25, 1831 and received a traditional yeshiva education. He became a believer as a young man (some report him to have been 15, others more logically as 25), moved to England and continued his study of the Hebrew scriptures with special emphasis on the megillot. According to Dunlop (Memories of Gospel Triumphs Among the Jews) Ginsburg was trained in the British Society Missionary college, together with other well known scholars such as Salkinson. He became a missionary to the Jews associated with the Liverpool branch of the London Society’s Mission to the Jews but retired in 1863 because of ill health, and devoted himself entirely to literary work.
Besides translations and commentaries of the Song of Songs, 1857, and Ecclesiastes, 1861, he published essays on the Karaites, 1862; and Essenes, 1864; and a full account in English of the Cabala, 1865. He then devoted himself to Masoretic studies, publishing the text and translation of Elias Levita’s “Massoret ha-Massoret” in 1867, and of Jacob b. Hayyim’s “Introduction to the Rabbinic Bible” in the same year.
The learned Jacob ben Hayyim, had in 1524-1525 published the second Rabbinic Bible, containing what has ever since been known as the Masorah; but neither were the materials available nor was criticism sufficiently advanced for a complete edition. Ginsburg took up the subject almost where it was left off by those early pioneers, and 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 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 was elected a member of the Board of Revisers of the Old Testament in 1870, and devoted himself to the collation of all the extant remains of the Masorah, three volumes of which he published in 1880-86. Based upon these collations, he edited a new text of the Old Testament for the Trinitarian Bible Society, which was published in 1894 under the title “The Massoretico-Critical Text of the Hebrew Bible.” To this he wrote an introduction, published together with a volume of facsimiles of the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, in 1897. His method of settling the Masoretic text has been somewhat severely criticized by Blau in the “Jewish Quarterly Review” (viii. 343 et seq.).
Ginsburg wrote the most elaborate account printed in English of the Moabite Stone (1871), and was instrumental in exposing forgeries of Shapira.
He died in 1914 in Middlesex, England.
Song of Songs, translation and historical and critical commentary (1857) – to read online
Tehilim (Psalms) – to read online
Cohelet translation and historical and critical commentary (Ecclesiastes) (1861)- to read online
Introduction of the Massoretico-critical edition of the Hebrew Bible – to read online
The Massoreth ha-Massoreth of Elias Levita : being an exposition of the Massoretic notes on the Hebrew Bible; or, The ancient critical apparatus of the Old Testament in Hebrew (1867) – to read online
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ 1909. New edition by Keren Ahvah Meshichit, Jerusalem 1999
De le Roi, Geschichte der Evangelischen Judenmission, iii. 129;
Dunlop, J. Memories of Gospel Triumphs, pp. 368–373, London, 1894;
Encyclopedia Britannica, Supplement, s.v.
Gartenhaus. Jacob. Famous Hebrew Christians. Baker Book House, 1979.
Men and Women of the Time, 1899;
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