Jacob Hamburger (1826-1911)

Born in Loslau, Silesia (Poland), Jacob Hamburger was a scholar and a rabbi, who served in Neustadt and later in Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was the author of the Real-Encyklopädie für Bibel und Talmud (later the Real-Encyklopädie des Judentums 1874-1903).

In a relatively long entry on Josephus, Hamburger presents him as a defender (Verteidiger) of Judaism (Real-Encyklopädie, 502-10). Josephus, according to Hamburger, was not only a devoted Jew but also a great advocate for the ethics of Judaism and its history. Hamburger considers Josephus’s Against Apion as his worthiest book (509): in it the author testifies that although the Jews lost their political sovereignty, their spiritual kernel had endured. Still, according to Hamburger, Josephus had a certain weakness, he was dazzled by Rome’s grandeur: ‘Roms Strahlenglanz hatte ihn ganz und gar geblendet’ (502).

Hamburger, Jacob, ‘Josephus Flavius’, in Real-Encyklopädie für Bibel und Talmud, Abteilung 2 (Sterlitz, 1882): 502-10.

‘Hamburger Jacob’, Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 7 (Jerusalem, 1971): 1230.

JRA entry contributed by Oded Steinberg