Page 100 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

Basic HTML Version

S O L O M O N Z E I T L I N
On the Occasion of His 80th Birthday
By
S
id n e y
B.
H
oen ig
A
scho lar
'
s
scho la r
who in the past sixty years has mastered
the complete range of the sacred and secular Jewish literature
is Solomon Zeitlin, the Distinguished Professor of Post-Biblical
Literature and Institutions at Dropsie University in Philadelphia.
His originality of thought, keen historic penetration and the cour-
age to battle valiantly for the truth in rabbinic, hellenistic and
patristic literature has established for him a world wide reputation
as the leading authority on the Second Jewish Commonwealth
covering the period of the evolution of the religious forces of
Judaism and Christianity. As editor in chief of the
Jewish Quar-
terly R eview
and of the Jewish Apocryphal Literature series, he has
displayed extraordinary versatility and has enriched scholarly liter-
ature to an unprecedented degree.
In the academic world, Professor Solomon Zeitlin is called the
“stubborn controversialist,” for he never hesitates to assert boldly
and to write with vehemence what he believes is correct. But
generally a spirit of mildness, of reserve and modesty are the com-
ponents of his personality. When one seeks to discuss his back-
ground or his accomplishments, silence prevails, for Zeitlin will
always talk about his “studies” but never about himself.
Born in Russia, on the eve of Shabuot, 1892, his earliest studies
were of the traditional type. He studied later in Dvinsk and came
under the influence of the Ragoshover Illui (R. Joseph Rozin)
and R. Meir Simha of Dvinsk, author of
Or Sameah.
In 1908 he
attended the institute of Baron David Giinzberg in St. Petersburg,
where Zalman (Rubashov) Shazar was his roommate. In 1912 he
studied at the Ecole Rabbinique, Paris, receiving his ordination,
Doctor of Theology. His original work on “The Eighteen Decrees
of the Hillelites and Shammaites,” in French, was published in
R evue des Etudes Juives,
in 1914. During the first World War
Zeitlin came to America, studied at the Dropsie College and re-
ceived his Ph.D. in 1917; his dissertation was on
Megillat Taanit
as a Source for Jewish Chronology and History in the Hellenistic
and Roman Periods.
Since then Zeitlin has written over 400 articles
and books in the fields of rabbinics, Josephus, Apocrypha and
94