Tag Archives: Nova Acta Eruditorum

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].

Peak Reland

References to my protagonists in the Nova Acta Eruditorum, 1732-1776

Friday n° 46, August 30th, 2019

As an Apology: Beyond the Ivory Tower…

…there is an everyday realm which does not always comply with the plans made inside the ivory tower. In my case, this meant that renovating one room to make it into a third children’s room went a bit out of control and took far longer than I had planned – which caused me to skip the post that would have been due last week already. I’m sorry, but I can promise with a clear conscience that this will not happen again. I don’t have got any other rooms to renovate. But since I’m done with that room now, here’s what I’ve found since then.

Into the forests and up into the Mountains

Well, I went back into the paper forest of learned journals, this time tackling the only one left to do for my comparative study, the Nova Acta Eruditorum, appearing in Leipzig in continuation of the Acta Eruditorum from 1732 until 1776 (technically until 1782, but there were no more issues since 1776). And to my surprise, I discovered a significant peak. I’m not sure yet if it really qualifies as a towering mountain, but at least it appears to be one if put into a diagram properly. What becomes visible here is that the Nova Acta Eruditorum took quite a liking to Adriaan Reland, who is referred to on 57 pages in the 25 years between 1732 and 1756 which you see to the right of this paragraph, dwarfing all my other protagonists. This is more than four times the number of references to the next in line, Eusèbe Renaudot, who is referred to 14 times during this period, and more than double the number of the references to all the other three combined, which total 27 for these years: Renaudot’s 14 plus 9 for Thomas Gale and 4 for Johannes Braun.

The peak in Reland references in the Nova Acta Eruditorum between 1737 and 1754, compared to the references to the other three protagonists.

The high time of references to Reland in the Nova Acta Eruditorum thus are the 1740s, and this is interesting because this is precisely the time when the patterns of references to my protagonists in all the other Journals I have surveyed so far fall into the on-and-off mode of mentioning them now and then every few years which I have labelled ‘intermittent referencing’ and which I take to indicate being structurally forgotten within the frame of the medium in question. And until 1737, when references to Reland begin to multiply again, the same pattern could be observed concerning him in both the Acta Eruditorum up until 1732 and the Nova Acta Eruditorum since then. So this might be the specific difference which I have been searching for, the difference which explains why Reland’s posthumous remembrance career has been so much more successful than those of my other three protagonists.

Why the peak?

Stating a difference is one thing; declaring it relevant another; and both are neither equal nor conductive to explaining, which again is a totally different thing altogether. So having encountered and labelled the phenomenon, how am I to explain it? Why were the people writing reviews for this Middle German learned journal so much more fond of Reland than of my other three protagonists – whom they knew, but were not really interested in – at this particular time?

Perhaps it is best to start with the content of these references. The pattern that underlies the peak is a very straightforward one: All the references to Reland take place within a specific context and are directed towards a specific work, and that is his last major publication, the 1714 two-volume Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata[1] which had already come out as a central reference focus in my analysis of the three-journal sample made up from the Maandelyke uittreksels, the Journal des Savants and the Philosophical Transactions.

Protestant Orientalist Learning

The specific context the interest in this particular book stems from was a decidedly Protestant one. The writers of the works in the reviews of which the references to Reland were made in the Nova Acta Eruditorum were either Lutheran ministers or Theologians employed as university or high school professors. The scholars in the reviews of whose works Reland was mentioned in 1740 and 1741, for example, were

They were interested in Oriental studies because such studies seemed useful to better understand the linguistic, cultural, and geographical setting of the Old Testament, ancient Israel or Palestine, the Holy Land. The Northern and Middle German Protestant universities of the time thus fostered the respective studies – of Hebrew, of Arabic, Persian, and other languages ‘Oriental’, of Biblical geography and history – and to do so, they built upon the results achieved by the scholars of the Dutch universities, among them Reland, with whom they shared much of the preconceptions of what godly scholarship and learning should be like. It surely was no coincidence that the Nuremberg publishing house of Monath in 1740 chose to reprint its 1716 pirated copy of Reland’s Palaestina Illustrata,[2] thus providing fresh copies for the German market.  

 In the middle of the 1750s this fascination for Reland’s Palaestina Illustrata waned in the Nova Acta Eruditorum, which might be connected with the shift from a theologically based Orientalism to a more secularized discipline within the German universities; but this is something to be explored further. But as it seems, this decade of interest may have been crucial to fix Adriaan Reland within the emerging discipline of German Orientalism, and thus to pull him from structural forgottenness for a while.


[2] Peter Conrad Monath (ed.), Adriaan Reland: Hadriani Relandi Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata; in tres libros distributa, tabulis geographicis necessariis, iisque accuratis exornata, et a multis insuper, quae in primam editionem irrepserant mendis purgata, Nuremberg: Monath 1740.

Work in Progress

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019, for Friday no. 21

I am very sorry, but I will have to postpone what I originally intended to post here yesterday for one week. The idea I had in mind does work, but it takes a lot more time to set up the calculations in detail than I had thought, and it will keep me busy for a few days still. In one of my former posts I preliminarily explored a data set still uncompleted at that time, consisting of all references to my four protagonists in the Journal des Savants, the Philosophical Transactions, and the Maandelyke Uittreksels, of Boekzaal der geleerde Waerelt during the 18th century. As this set is completed now*, it will be interesting to see what might be learned from it.

One preliminary finding – which at the same time is a hypothesis to be tested during the next days – is that in terms of being posthumously referenced it seems to pay for a scholar to diversify his research interests, or at least to offer works which may feed into many different research interests over time. For it seems that the most prominent work written by my four protagonists over the course of the 18th century turned out to be Adrien Relands 1714 two-volume “Palaestina ex monumentis veteris illustrata”. And from the contexts of the references targeting it this seems most likely to be due to its ability to be utilized for the purposes of History, Theology, Geography, and Philology alike. The downside of this is that it seems very difficult, if not outright impossible, to determine which kind of work might be suited to such purposes when writing it.

But more about this next Friday!

*At least for the moment. Next addition will be Acta Eruditorum/Nova Acta Eruditorum. To be continued!