Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621-1668)

The Life and Work of a Seventeenth-Century Orientalist


In this biography of Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621-1668) Asaph Ben-Tov offers a study of a now forgotten yet unusually well documented seventeenth-century orientalist. Gerhard, the son of the famous Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard, is not a towering figure but rather a fascinating representative of the academic culture of his day, especially of seventeenth-century oriental studies. His extant Nachlassallows a close scrutiny of the life and work of an early modern scholar, focussing on his training, travels, the ambitious Harmonia linguarum orientalium (1647) and other works, and the interests he fostered as a professor of history and theology in Jena. It aims to shed light on the broad and understudied field of oriental studies in seventeenth-century Germany.

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Asaph Ben-Tov, PhD (Jerusalem 2007), Habilitation (Erfurt 2019) is the author of Lutheran Humanists and Greek Antiquity (2009) and co-editor (with Yaacov Deutsch and Tamar Herzig) of Knowledge and Religion in Early Modern Europe (2013) and (with Martin Mulsow) of Knowledge and Profanation (2019).
List of Figures

Introduction: A Biography of a Seventeenth-Century Orientalist: Its Sources and Significance for Understanding Oriental Studies in Early Modern Germany

1 The Making of a Seventeenth-Century Orientalist
 1 First Academic Appearances
 2 Studying Oriental Languages
 3 Studying Ethiopic in Jena
 4 Commonplace Learning

2 Early Endeavours
 1 His Father’s Editor
 2 Inherited Enemies: The Case of Barthold Nihus
 3 History
 4 Biblical Scholarship and Antiquarianism
 5 The Syriac Bible

3 Harmonia Linguarum Orientalium
 1 Gerhard and the Tradition of Harmonic Linguistics
 2 Harmonia Linguarum Orientalium (1647)
 3 Some Immediate Reactions to the Harmonia
 4 Fata libelli

4 Travels in the Republic of Letters
 1 Altdorf, Nuremberg, and Regensburg
 2 Iter ad mare balticum – A Tour of War-Ravaged Northern Germany (1642)
 3 The Grand Tour: Itinerarium Belgicum (1650–1651)

5 Professor of History (1652–1655)
 1 Cyrus, Athens, Alexander the Great, and the Mirror of Princes

6 Umbra in luce: A Fragmented World History of Religion
 1 Professor of Theology
 2 The Armenian, Muscovite, Coptic, and Maronite Churches
 3 Armenia (1665)
 4 The Muscovites (1665)
 5 The Copts (1666) and the Maronites (1668)
 6 Beyond Church History
 7 Islam
 8 Umbra in luce (1667)
 9 An Unexpected Prelude: Justinian von Weltz (1621–1668?) and His Mission to the Heathens
 10 Shadow, Light, and Penumbra
 11 Christian Hoffmann’s Umbra in luce (1667)

A Hieroglyphic Farewell
 and Concluding Comments
Appendix: A Selection of Letters to Gerhard from Hiob Ludolf and Johann Zechendorff in the Gerhardina Collection
All interested in the history of oriental studies and early modern scholarship more broadly, as well as in the history of universities and confessional culture in the Holy Roman Empire.
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