Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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BLOCH ----MORITZ STEINSCHNEIDER
91
trove of knowledge on virtually all aspects of the making and use
of the books it records, and it also contains discussions and solu­
tions of many intricate literary and related problems. This
catalogue, more than any other of his writings, secured Stein­
schneider’s fame and recognition as the bibliographer
par excellence
of Jewish literature.
The Bodleiana at Oxford was not the only great library which
availed itself of Steinschneider’s service. Other eminent European
libraries, as well as owners of several private collections, resorted
to his expert service in cataloguing and describing many of their
Hebrew manuscripts. Until those manuscripts were examined by
him and subjected to his masterly bibliographical treatment, they
were hardly accessible to the student and scholar. The task of
cataloguing them in his expert manner was a gigantic one. The
catalogues bearing his name as author represent more than
mechanically compiled lists of works whose arrangement and
proper location might easily be found. Often they also identify
for the first time, with a measure of certainty, the authorship,
time and place of origin of many of these works. His description
of each Hebrew manuscript is usually accurate, lucid and adequate.
His catalogues of Hebrew manuscripts in the libraries of Berlin,
Hamburg, Leyden and Munich are repositories of bibliographical
and pertinent historical information inaccessible elsewhere. No
one could have achieved what Steinschneider accomplished in his
Lectures on the Study of Hebrew Manuscripts
(1897). In these
lectures he surveyed with incomparable thoroughness and acumen
all the problems related to the use and treatment of Hebrew
manuscripts.
A large and very significant portion of Steinschneider’s literary
activity was focused on
Arabic Literature of Jews
(Frankfort,
1902). His
Introduction to the Arabic Literature of the Jews
presents
an extraordinary contribution to volumes 9-13 of the old series of
the
Jewish Quarterly Review.
Even now they would serve a useful
purpose if republished in book form. His constant interest in the
relation of the Jews to their environment led him to investigate
the role played by Jews and Arabs in the advancement of math­
ematics, medicine, astronomy, astrology, chronology, calendar
computation, and kindred matters. Through these investigations
he adduced abundant evidence that the Jews in the Middle Ages,
by virtue of their activity as translators and interpreters, served
as cultural mediators between Islam and Christianity. He also
established that mediaeval acquaintance with Greek writers like
Aristotle in philosophy and Galen in medicine was gained through
Arabic media whose doctrines, transmitted through the Averroan