Strange Parallels

Title page of the 12th section of the third volume of supplements to the Nova Acta Eruditorum, Leipzig 1739.

Friday n° 50, September 27th, 2019

Historians always hope that those figures they have chosen may be taken as exemplary for a certain kind of person in a certain kind of historical situation. For only then the experiences of those exemplary figures – or the phenomena connected to them – may be generalized and may then be analysed in a typological perspective. If only it were not so hard to establish such claims to exemplariness.

It is thus always nice to come across sources arguing in the same direction as oneself. Even though it may of course be questioned whether any particular source is exemplary and how much trust one may put in its assertions, it feels good to hear a familiar judgement. Now just a few days ago I found such a source while coding references to my protagonists from the Nova Acta Eruditorum into my database.

In search for a certain Lakemacher…

The third tome of supplements to the Nova Acta Eruditorum, printed in 1739, contains a review of the 4th volume of Johann Gottschalk Clausing’s Jus Publicum Romanorum[1] in its sectio duodecima. This review lists many names of authors directly or indirectly connected to the publication – as the Nova Acta Eruditorum reviews in general are not at all afraid of namedropping – among which was, on the one hand, Adriaan Reland, as you see below (my sole reason for looking into this review at all).

Nova Acta Eruditorum, Supplementa, vol. 3, section 12, Leipzig 1739, p. 546.

On the other hand, there were many people which I had to look up since I encountered them for the first time during the course of the project. You would think that this should stop at some point, but no, these discourses were obviously quite flexible, and meanwhile I am sure that there are still more to come. Among these names now directly following upon Reland’s was that of a certain “Jo. Gothofr. Lakemacher[us]”, which somewhat unsurprisingly turned out to designate Johann Gottfried Lakemacher (1695–1736). Lakemacher, this was easy to find out, had been professor at the university of Helmstedt, where he had held the chairs for Greek and Oriental Languages at the philosophical faculty, as the professorial catalogue of Helmstedt university details.

… finding a model type

The Catalogus professorum of Helmstedt university gave no further information, so I looked Lakemacher up in the Deutsche Biographie, where there is an entry on him, and correspondingly in the World Biographical Information System, where he also can be found, this time with two short entries (see here and here). One of these now led me to Heinrich Döring’s (1789–1862) early 19th century dictionary of German theologians[2] where Lakemacher is dealt with in more detail in volume 2 (I–M). At the end of this biographical entry Döring explicitly drew the connection to Reland:

Lakemacher died, not yet 41 years old, on 16 March 1736, after he had just two years before published his excellent reference book on the liturgical antiquities of the Greeks, in Latin, and had chosen Reland’s Antiquitates Hebraeorum sacrae as his model in arranging the materials. Regarding the scope of his scholarship and the length of his life Lakemacher was very similar to this aforementioned Dutch philologist, who died in 1718 in his 42nd year. [3]

19th century divisions

This short passage from Döring is interesting in two respects. First, and that’s what I started with, it shows that Reland could, at least in Döring’s view, be taken as a model for a certain type of scholar, in this case the linguistically gifted, highly talented, and prematurely dying ones.  And second it proves that Döring, who was a very prolific writer of biographies (see his ADB entry), did know about Reland, who has no entry of his own in the “Gelehrte Theologen Deutschlands”.  Which seems perfectly understandable now following the above-quoted lines from his entry on Lakemacher: in Döring’s eyes, Reland as a “Dutch philologist” was neither a German nor a theologian, so he fell out of the scope of the book.

This is both an early example of 19th century nationalist classification, which repartitioned (and parochialized!) the landscape of intellectual history, and of 19th century disciplinary boundary-making, which did the same along other lines. Not that these demarcations were stable and went down unquestioned: in the end, Reland also got an entry in the German national biography (see here) the author of which classified him both as a German – at least implicitly, as his being Dutch was just passed over quietly – and a theologian. (More on this entry is to be found in this older post of mine.)

Back to Lakemacher

But how about contemporary connections between Lakemacher and Reland, who were temporally, geographically and intellectually quite close to each other, as it seems? Direct connections seem improbable in so far as Reland had died, also at the age of 41, in Utrecht on 5 February 1718, when Lakemacher was only 22 years of age and still studying at the university of Halle. In his Antiquitates Graecorum sacrae of 1734[4] however Lakemacher explicitly detailed the structural similarity mentioned by Döring:

In arranging the matters I have resorted to the same method which Adriaan Reland followed in his Antiquitates Hebraeorum sacris, for this seemed the most appropriate to me.[5]

Johann Gottfried Lakemacher, Antiquitates Graecorum Sacrae, praefatio, p. 8–9.

This may just testify to the currency of Reland’s Antiquitates sacrae veterum Hebraeorum, which seems to have been widely used as a textbook for undergraduates and saw four editions between 1708 and 1741,[6] besides numerous adaptions. In the preface to Lakemacher’s first publication, the 1718 Elementa linguae arabicae, his teacher, the Helmstedt professor for Oriental languages Hermann von der Hardt (1660–1746), did not compare his pupil to Reland, although he explicitly wrote that such an accomplishment as the book should directly qualify Lakemacher for a professorial post.[7]

Structural similarities?

So maybe the similiarities are indeed structural, and point to a certain type of young scholar who in the late 17th and early 18th century might attain academic honours early and then die a sudden death. The difference between Reland and Lakemacher, from my point of view, lies in Lakemacher becoming forgotten much sooner, and much more effectively than Reland. The reasons why this would be so are not yet entirely clear to me, although I assume that part of the solution might be that Helmstedt was not Utrecht, and another part in that Lakemacher as the later scholar might have come to be seen as epigonic. But the other parts I still have to figure out.


[1] Johann Gottschalk Clausing (ed.): Jus Publicum Romanorum: Id Est Fasciculus […] Arcanorum Status Reipublicæ Romanæ […] Adornante Jo. Godeschalc. Clausingio, Consil. Lippiaco Et J. U. D.: Recensens Varios, Tum Paganorum, Judaeorum, Tum Etiam Christianorum Religionem Describentes, Praeclaos, Et Quidem. Raros Autores. Ut I. Juliani Aurelii, scriptoris rarissimi, libros tres de cognominibus Deorum Gentilium. II. Livii Historiam, de origine & turpitudine Bacchanaliorum. III. Neandri Historiam Bacchanaliorum. IV. Poggii Florentini, descriptionem fortunæ, & ruinæ Urbis Romæ. V. Dreseri, de Festis diebus Librum. VI. M. Fritschii discursum, de Judæorum post montes Caspios latente Messia. VII. Dn. de Goebeln. ex Diplomat. de Cancellariis Imperii, erutam eruditissimam Differtationem. Quorum Omnium, Penitiorem Notitiam, B. L. Proxima Post Praefationem Pagina Indepturus, Insuper Indice Rerum, Verborum Et Auctorum Dotatus Ornatusque, Lemgo: Meyer 1737.

[2] Heinrich Döring: Die gelehrten Theologen Deutschlands im achtzehnten und neunzehnten Jahrhundert: nach ihrem Leben und Wirken dargestellt von Heinrich Doering, 4 vols., Neustadt a. d. Orla: J. K. G. Wagner, 1831–1835.

[3] Heinrich Döring: Johann Gottfried Lakemacher, in: —: Die gelehrten Theologen Deutschlands im achtzehnten und neunzehnten Jahrhundert, vol. 2 (I–M), Neustadt a. d. Orla: J. K. G. Wagner 1832, pp. 223–225.

[4] Johann Gottfried Lakemacher: Antiquitates Graecorum sacrae, Helmstedt: Weygand 1734:

[5] Ibid., p. [8]–[9]: “In rebus disponendis rationem servavi eam, quam in antiquitatibus Hebraeorum sacris secutus est Hadr. Relandus. nam [sic] ea visa mihi est aptissima.”

[6] Adriaan Reland: Antiquitates sacrae veterum Hebraeorum, Utrecht: Broedelet 1708; 2nd ed. Utrecht: Broedelet 1712; 3rd ed. Utrecht: Broedelet 1717, 4th ed. Utrecht: Broedelet 1741.

[7] Hermann von der Hardt: [Preface], in: Johann Gottfried Lakemacher: Elementa linguae arabicae in quibus omnia ad solidam huius linguae cognitionem necessaria paradigmata exihibentur accedunt textus aliquot arabici et iustae analyseos exemplum, Helmstedt: Hamm 1718, pp. [1] – [6]; here p. [2].


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