Tag Archives: Pupils

Speaking of bygone scholars

Friday n° 31, May 5th, 2019

Today, ladies and gentleman, I will be speaking about speaking about scholarly predecessors in public speeches. Well, at least semi-public speeches, as I will be dealing with the inaugural lectures of three 18th century professors. Although they all were delivered originally to a limited academic audience only, they were published in print afterwards and thus at least in principle publicly available. (And of course I’m also writing and not speaking, but although it sounds it like fun, I shall not spend any more time reflecting on the inadequacies of metaphors for scientific discourse here).

Three orators, three inaugural lectures

Let me introduce today’s three orators now:  Please welcome Albert Schultens (1686–1750) with On the springs from which all knowledge of the Hebrew language flows and their shortcomings and defects,[1] Jan Jacob Schultens (1716–1778) with Of the fruits of returning to theology from a deeper understanding of the Oriental languages,[2] and last but not least Henrik Albert Schultens (1749-1793) with On the labour of the Dutch in fostering the Arabic studies.[3] As you either know already or may have guessed by now, the similarity in names really points to a close relationship between these three scholars. They represent three generations of the same family, father, son, and grandson. They also represent three generations of scholars working within broadly the same discipline, which their contemporaries termed “Oriental Languages”, which was almost always blended with theology – as the title of Jan Jacob Schulten’s inaugural lecture directly captured.

How does that relate to forgetting?

So what is the connection of these three lectures/speeches to my project? Well, first of all they constitute a source type which I have not dealt with in my project yet. Of course I have drawn on funeral orations, but these are hardly the same kind of public speech act (and printed publication later on). So the first question is how this medium may be related to what I am generally interested in, the patterns of posthumous references to scholars and their fading. And the second question obviously is which relation existed between the Schultens family and my four protagonists whose patterns of fading I am especially interested in.

To do it the easier way I’ll start with the second question: Albert Schultens, the first of the family to attain a professorial post, had been a pupil of Johannes Braun in Groningen, in 1706 defending a graduation thesis under Braun On the utility of Arabic in the interpretation of Holy Scripture,[4] as I already had pointed out in an earlier post. From Groningen he first moved to Leiden, then on to Utrecht where he became a pupil of Adriaan Reland, earning a doctorate in theology in 1709 with a thesis on a passage from the gospel according to Mark.[5]  In 1713 he was appointed to the post of professor of theology at Franeker University. Albert Schultens thus was quite directly connected to two of my protagonists.

The lectures: 1714 – 1779

But is there any trace of that in his inaugural lecture? If so, only a very small trace. Schultens recurred once to Reland, when he listed “Hottinger (=Johann Heinrich Hottinger, 1620–1667), Golius (=Jacob Golius, 1569–1667), Pocockius (=Edward Pococke, 1604–1691), Relandus and other principal Arabists.”[6] He much more prominently referred to Samuel Bochart (1599–1667). What is remarkable in the passage on Reland, though, is that he was the only living person referred to. Which was quite uncommon; usually only dead people were explicitly mentioned in public academic orations. So while one could tentatively assume that Reland was done a special honour here, it is quite telling that Johannes Braun, who had presided over the graduation thesis in which Schultens had already defended the argument that Arabic could be used to illuminate Scripture, is not mentioned even once. Although he had been dead for six years already.

When Albert Schultens proposed the use of other Semitic languages to get a better grip on Hebrew in 1714 this still was a new approach. When his son, Jan Jacob Schultens, defended essentially the same argument – that “Oriental Languages” where a profitable tool for the study of theology – in his inaugurational lecture for the post of professor of theology in Leiden in 1749, it was no longer revolutionary anymore, which might perhaps explain why Jan Jacob could make it short; his oration was only a bit more than half as long as that of his father. But it had the additional value of being solidly established by his father by now, who had not only presided over his son’s doctoral thesis in 1742[7] but who also seems to have attained the inaugural lecture of Jan Jacob. At least his son addressed him in direct speech at the end in a paragraph especially designed to underscore their familial and scientific relationship.[8] And while Jan Jacob Schultens did not refer to any of the scholars his father had mentioned as his predecessors, he also continued his line of not referring to Johannes Braun. The punchline of this is that he did refer to Johannes Coccejus,[9] whose direct pupil Braun had been.  

In 1779, when Henrik Albert Schultens, the son of Jan Jacob, held his inaugural lecture for the post of professor of Oriental Languages and Ancient Hebrew, he no longer had the problem of having to deal with any living predecessors. Not only where the scholars his grandfather had referred to dead for almost one century, both his father and grandfather were dead for quite a while, too. He capitalized on this for taking another turn on the topic of his father’s and grandfather’s lectures, in turning their approach to a discipline and referring the history of this discipline in Dutch universities. This was a clever move in two respects, as it possible for him to refer to his family history as the history of an academic field, and to use the memory of his ancestors to his advantage. He first of all referred to a set of 16th and 17th century scholars which included those mentioned in his grandfather’s lecture, adding some more international figures to compare the achievements of Dutch scholars against (and thus to capitalize on the growing discursive entanglements of national ideas and science). In doing so, he referred to Reland and, on the French side, also to Renaudot.[10] Building on that, he then turned to describing his grandfather as the founder of the new kind of Oriental languages studies he himself professed.[11] To protect himself from being reproached as exploiting his family history to his own advantage, to the end he used a curious rhetorical strategy and began to describe – quite elaborately – how much of a burden the legacy of Albert and Jan Jacob Schultens placed on him, and that he would do his utmost to match their achievements.[12]

Family’s the thing!

Although from the example of Henrik Albert Schultens it seems that relying solely on family tradition as a qualification for scholarship had become problematic in the later 18th century, it still was preferable to ‘pure’ discipleship, the more so if both could be mixed, as in Jan Jacob Schulten’s case, who could style himself not as only the genealogical but also the intellectual heir of his father. This meant that scholars who were mentioned by the founding father of the line in question had good chances to be carried along and be referred to, as Reland was, more than half a century after their death; but for those who were excluded at the start, such as Johannes Braun, this meant that they were most likely to stay excluded. Structural forgetting in this case presents itself a process only challengeable with difficulty, if at all.  


[1] Albert Schultens: Oratio inauguralis de fontibus ex quibus omnis linguae hebraeae notitia manavit horumque vitiis et defectibus, Franeker: Halma 1714.

[2] Jan Jacob Schultens: Oratio inauguralis de Fructibus in theologiam redundantibus ex penitiore linguarum orientalium cognitione, Leiden: Luchtmans 1749.

[3] Henrik Albert Schultens: Oratio de studio Belgarum in literis Arabicis excolendis, Leiden: le Mair 1779.

[4] Albert Schultens: De utilitate linguae Arabicae in interpretanda Sacra Scriptura [1706], posthumously published in: Albert Schultens: Opera Minora, Leiden: Le Mair 1769 .

[5] Albert Schultens: Disputatio theologica inauguralis in locum Marci XIII:XXXII, Groningen: Barlinckhoff 1709.

[6] Albert Schultens: Oratio inauguralis de fontibus ex quibus omnis linguae hebraeae notitia manavit horumque vitiis et defectibus, Franeker: Halma 1714, p. 15: „Hottinger, Golius, Pocockius, Relandus aliique Arabizantium principes“.

[7] Jan Jacob Schultens: Dissertations Academicae de utilitate dialectorum orientalium ad tuendam integritatem codicis hebraei, Leiden: Luzac 1742.

[8] Jan Jacob Schultens: Oratio inauguralis de Fructibus in theologiam redundantibus ex penitiore linguarum orientalium cognitione, Leiden: Luchtmans 1749, p. 26: „Speciatim Tibi, Parens Indulgentissime, qui inde a teneris unguiculis in sinu Tuo me fovisti, atque incredibili diligentia, prudentia, patientia, rudes pueritiae meae mores finxisti et emollivisti, quin asperiorem quoque adolescentiae indolem expugnatrice Tua bonitate fregisti, desideratissimum tenerrimae educationis et curae fructum inpense gratulor.“

[9] Ibid, p. 19.

[10] Henrik Albert Schultens: Oratio de studio Belgarum in literis Arabicis excolendis, Leiden: le Mair 1779, p. 5, p. 20.

[11] Ibid, p. 40: „Unum tamen, Praestantissimi Commilitones, qui in Arabicis literis, sive ad juvanda studia vestra Theologia, seu ad majorem ingenii culturam, operam collocatis; unum igitur non possum quin vobis de Alberto Schultensio commemorem, & maxime [41] ad imitandum proponam.“

[12] Ibid., p. 43–45.

Recollection by pupils, done properly

Heading of Karl Gottfried Woide’s Mémoir from the Journal des Savants, June 1774, p. 333-343.

Friday No. 18, February 1st, 2019

In one of my last posts I have been questioning if having pupils is indeed conducive to being remembered as a scholar and ended on a somewhat sceptical note. But there is no end to learning, and so I would like to take the opportunity today to shed some light on an example of a pupil’s network that really efficiently did so.

1704 – 1716: A triangular correspondence

To make clear how the following connects to my overall project, let’s first have a look at a (perhaps) somewhat unusual kind of correspondence.

Communication between Cuper, de la Croze, and Reland: Persons in red, letters in yellow, printed publications mentioned in green, and institutions mentioned in black.

This depicts the correspondences between Adrien Reland, Gijsbert Cuper (1644-1716) and Mathurin Veyssière de la Croze (1661-1739) between 1704 and 1716 as far as I have already been able to incorporate them into my database. As it looks like, they were all three very much connected, be it indirectly by way of referring to the same people (red dots), publications (green dots), institutions (black dots) or letters (yellow dots), or by relating to each other directly.  But this picture is a bit misleading, one might say, because if only sender-receiver relations are visualized without taking the content of the letters into account, it looks like this.

Letters (yellow) exchanged between Cuper, de la Croze, and Reland (red); the only three letters between Reland and de la Croze highlighted in blue

There seems to have been almost no direct epistolary connection between de la Croze and Reland; at least, I have only found three letters until now. But as they were taken from the selected edition of de la Croze’s letters, published between 1742 and 1746 (fully digitized by Mannheim university), which includes none of the Cuper-la Croze letters, presumably because they were written in French, it may be assumed that there were some more.

Be that as it may, there was a huge amount of indirect communication going on between de la Croze and Reland by way of Cuper. Both would ask Cuper to deliver questions or answers to the other, and Cuper did so. What emerged was a strange triangular correspondence pattern between these three scholars. Now two of the three letters between Reland and de la Croze mention a certain David Wilkins (Wilke, 1685-1745), and that will become interesting in a minute.

A posthumous publication

In June 1774, the Journal des Savants announced the upcoming publication of the Lexicon ægyptiaco-latinum, to be printed in Oxford at the Clarendon Press in 1775,[1] in a short piece entitled Mémoire de M. Woide, sur le Dictionnaire Cophte qu’il va publier à Oxford, & sur les Sçavans qui ont étudié la Langue Cophte. Adressée à Messieurs les Auteurs du Journal des Sçavans.[2] This piece was remarkable insofar as its author, Karl Gottfried Woide (Charles Godfrey, 1725-1790), the editor of the announced work, not only gave a detailed account of the state of the field of Coptic studies as he perceived it, but also of the genesis of the book itself, which at the time had become something like a lost learned heirloom. It was based on a manuscript that Maturin Veyssière de la Croze had compiled until 1721, but never published, and left to his former pupil Charles-Étienne Jordan (1700-1745) when he died in 1739 together with his library. After Jordan’s death in 1745, the manuscript was sold together with Jordan’s library by Jordan’s brothers, and acquired by Leiden University. In 1750, Woide had gone there to copy the manuscript, and this copy now formed the basis for the printed edition.[3] This would have been less remarkable where it not for the interconnections between the persons entangled in this research action. For, Woide maintained, he originally copied the manuscript for his use and that of Christian Scholtz (1697-1777) from whom he had learned his Coptic. Scholtz, who may have commissioned the copy,[4] was second court preacher in Berlin and had himself learned his Coptic from his brother-in-law Paul Ernst Jablonski (1693-1757), who in turn had learned his Coptic from Maturin Veyssière de la Croze, and who had supplied de la Croze with many of the primary materials needed for the compilation of the dictionary in question. Karl Gottfried Woide thus was, if I may put it that way, a fourth-generation scholarly descendant of de la Croze, working within a net of other former pupils or connections of his teacher’s teacher’s teacher.

As Woide now brought the copy of de la Croze’s manuscript back to Berlin, Scholtz started working on it, preparing it for print and adding annotations of his own. But it fell to Woide to actually secure an opportunity for publication through his contact with Oxford university, where he found a printer willing to publish de la Croze’s Coptic dictionary as edited by Scholtz and revised by Woide.

Back to the beginning

And now the circle closes back to the beginning of this post, for Woide in his Mémoir not only referred to de la Croze and his scholars but also to those other savants of note who had been working on the subject of Coptic. In doing so, he not only mentioned Adrien Reland but also David Wilkins, both of which had collaborated with de la Croze to establish a Coptic version of the Lord’s prayer to be included in John Chamberlayne’s (1668/9-1723) Oratio dominica in diversas omnium fere gentium linguas of 1715,[5] which is precisely what the edited Reland-de la Croze letters I mentioned touch upon. Wilkins in turn had offered de la Croze to print his dictionary in England at some point in time, but de la Croze had denied the offer.[6] Woide also mentioned, although on short notice, Eusèbe Renaudot as one among the number of learned scholars of Coptic; perhaps on short notice as Renaudot had always maintained good relations with the Maurists of St.-Germain-des-Pres whom de la Croze had fled in 1696 to become a Calvinist.

And, last but not least, Woide provided the additional detail that another scholar reoccurring rather often throughout my last posts here also was in on it, for when the proofs for the dictionary were at Oxford they were given to John Swinton (1703-1777), “known for his research in antiquities”,[7] to be seen through and corrected.

Proliferation by pupils

So this seems to be a point in time when at least two of my protagonists were posthumously reunited for a brief moment through their scholarly endeavours. Yet this had only become possible through the collective endeavours of de la Croze’s pupils over a period of more than three decades after his death. This might indicate that if pupils shall benefit a scholar’s posthumous memory, this may only happen through emergent effects from a working network of pupils at the time of the individual scholar’s death, focusing on a collective goal – as the study of Coptic in de la Croze’s case. One more hypothesis to test!


[1] Charles Godfrey Woide (ed.), Christian Scholtz (contr.), Mathurin Veyssière de la Croze: Lexicon ægyptiaco-latinum : ex veteribus illius linguæ monumentis summo studio collectum et elaboratum a Maturino Veyssiere la Croze. Quod in compendium redegit, ita ut nullae Voces Aegyptiacae, nullaeque earum significationes omitterentur, Christianus Scholtz: Aulae Regiae Borussiacae a concionibus sacris, et Ecclesiae Reformatae Cathedralis Berolinensis Pastor. Notulas quasdam, et indices adjecit Carolus Godofredus Woide, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1775.

[2] Charles Godfrey Woide: Mémoire de M. Woide, sur le Dictionnaire Cophte qu’il va publier à Oxford, & sur les Sçavans qui ont étudié la Langue Cophte. Adressée à Messieurs les Auteurs du Journal des Sçavans, in : Journal des Savants 109, June 1774, pp. 333-343.

[3] Ibid., p. 335.

[4] Cf. C. Siegfried: Scholtz, Christian, in: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 32 (1891), pp. 228–229 [Online-Version], p. 228. URL: https://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd101488637.html#adbcontent

[5] John Chamberlayne: Oratio dominica in diversas omnium fere gentium linguas versa et propriis cujusque linguae characteribus expressa, una cum dissertationibus nonnullis de linguarum origine, variisque ipsarum permutationibus. Editore Joanne Chamberlayno anglo-britanno, Regiae societatis Londinensis & Berolinensis socio,

[6] Charles Godfrey Woide: Mémoire de M. Woide, sur le Dictionnaire Cophte, p. 334.

[7] Ibid., p. 337: „connu par ses recherches dans les antiquités ».

What’s a pupil worth?

Saturday, for Friday No.10, December 15th, 2018 (Holidays are coming and everything is getting complicated to schedule…)

I do not have touched upon one facet of scholar’s posthumous reputation yet, although it is commonly believed to possibly have a powerful influence upon it. And that ist he impact a scholar’s pupils can have on his or her memory.

The pupil hypothesis

The hypothesis behind this is quite simple. If you study with someone, who provides you the starting point for your own learning and perhaps even your career, you might be especially likely to keep that person not only in fond memory privately butalso to refer him or her professionally by quotation, citation or other forms of reference. This would then contribute to the overall reference frequency of the teacher. And you might even pass his or her theories, ideas, writings or whatever to your own pupils as a kind of intellectual legacy. At least this is what is commonly thought to be happening in the formation of intellectual communities, schools of thought, or scientific disciplines.

 As with all hypotheses this one also should be tested before being assumed too easily. Toput it to the test is unfortunately a bit tricky. The problem with it is that it has been drawn from the showcase examples. For those cases in which we areable to see such a pattern at work clearly are the successful ones, those that really did establish intellectual communities, schools of thought, or scientific disciplines and framed them as certain person’s legacies. They are present, powerful, and seem to indicate the value of the hypothesis because it is able to explain them. The question now should be, are these cases representing the standard against which all others should be measured, or are they exceptional? If they are exceptional, the patterns that formed them are likely to be exceptional, too. They should, therefore, only with care be applied to other cases as long as this possibility cannot be ruled out.

How to test this?

If I now want to test this hypothesis with my four protagonists which clearly do not represent successful showcases of establishing intellectual legacies, this raises a number of follow-up questions. The first and perhaps crucial of these is simply: Who is a pupil? Obviously not every student who ever heard a lecture by one of them should qualify for that. And also not every younger scholar who ever exchanged letters with one of them should do so. But if the source material is scarce anyway, how am I to determine the closer kind of relationship which would qualify as a teacher-pupil-relationship?

The second and third questions are not very much more easily solved either. For having identified someone as qualifying for a pupil in the sense of the hypothesis, I would have to determine his (in my cases there are no hers, unfortunately) overall impact; and then to single out from this impact his references to his teacher to be able to determine how much this particular individual contributed to the reference pattern.

I do not have very conclusive evidence to present yet (for two select cases see below) but from what I have seen so far I strongly suspect that for the average scholar, the impact of pupils is highly overrated by the standard hypothesis. It really does not seem to matter so much. But before I go into speculation about why that might be so, first let me present two very contrary examples which are completely non-representative but which may give you an idea what I am after here.

First: a forgotten scholar’s unknown pupil

In 1713 the Journal des Savants (issue 34/1713, August 21th) reviewed a scholarly commentary of some Hebrew texts, the Hilkōt maʿśerōt Seu Commentarius Philologicus De Decimis Judaeorum[1] by Johann Conrad Hottinger (1688?–1727?). The young author was characterized in this piece intwo ways: First, as he was himself kind enough to tell in the title of thereviewed book, he was a member of the Zürich Hottinger family of reputedscholars for all matters theological and oriental. It even detailed the precisenature of this connection: He was a nephew of Heinrich Hottinger (1647–1692) by being a son of Heinrich’s brother Conrad, most likely Johann Conrad Hottinger (1655–1730). This would make “our” Johann Conrad Hottinger the second of the name, and stemming from something like a sideline, as his father was none of the celebrated scholars of the name but a physician and numismat of lesser fame. That his uncle rather than his father was named as the reference point for the family connection on the title page of Johann Conrad the younger’s printed work would make perfect sense then. Second, and not directly forthcoming from the title of the work, Adrien Reland was referred to by the reviewer as “the young author’s teacher”.

Journal des Savants, 34/1713, August 21th, p. 450. 

It is always a bit risky to trust your sources too much but in this case there is no other evidence I yet know of contradicting this, so I trust the anonymous reviewer to have done his homework and to have known what he wrote. That a complimentary letter from Reland to the author was added to the work makes it an interpretation highly probable. So what I have here is a prime case fulfilling the hypothesis, at least on the face of it. There is a teacher-pupil-relationship in which the pupil uses the name and fame of his teacher to proliferate his writings, and by referring back to his teacher in return circulates his name. The problem is that this in all likelihood did not benefit Reland much, as the young Hottinger seems never to have made himself much of a name. It is quite hard to find any reliable information about him; even the larger catalogues have problems disambiguing him and his father. And even if one of his publications surely had the potential to be influential interms of circulating references to his “maitre”, the Journal “Altes und Neues aus der gelehrten Welt”, it seems to have been rather short-lived and not to have spread very far. So as a first preliminary conclusion from this case the hypothesis would have to be specified in that you may only expect substantial returns in terms of reference frequency from your pupils if they are either at least modestly successful themselves – so as to have an audience – or if they are very many (to compensate for little individual success).

Second: a famous pupil of two forgotten scholars?

Johannes Braun, professor of theology in Groningen and himself often busy with the exegesis of scriptural Hebrew, had many pupils of minor fame who later ventured to become predikanten in Dutch churches, an occupation for which a solid theological education was necessary. But there were also others among those who listened to his lectures. One of these, the young Albert Schultens (1686–1750) in 1706 defended a thesis on the utility of Arabic in the study of scripture presided over by Braun. In an age where the defended thesis often was acollaboration between president and respondent, this points to a rather close relationship, as does the theme. And moreover, Schultens afterwards relocated to Utrecht in 1707 to further study Arabic under Reland, living in his house. His first publication, the “Animadversiones philologicae in Jobum” is said to have been written under Reland’s direct guidance, and as Hottinger’s book also contained a letter to the author by Reland as a prelude – as well as a laudatory examination verdict by Johannes Braun and his colleague Paulus Hulsius (1653–1712). Now Schultens embarked on a very solid career, became an appreciated Orientalist and Arabist, and the founder of a dynasty of three generations of renowned Arabists. This, then, would be the ideal pupil for the hypothesis: Building on the knowledge inherited from his or her teachers an own career, becoming esteemed, and also creating a family tradition of proliferation of this intellectual legacy he or she should be perfectly able to carry on the name and fame of the teachers who had been instrumental in laying the foundations to these accomplishments.

Only that Schultens does not seem to have done so, at least not overly zealous. As far as I am able to determine at the moment. So even famous pupil might net you not much return for your own reference patterns in the end, perhaps – one more preliminary conclusion – because they are too much taken up by building their own reputation. 

But if neither minor nor major pupils really add to your reference patterns as the hypothesis supposes, who then does? Well, I don’t know yet, but I’ll going to try to find out.


[1] Johann Conrad Hottinger: Hilkōt maʿśerōt Seu Commentarius Philologicus De Decimis Judaeorum: Decem Exercitationibus absolutus. In quo omni, quae ad hanc materiam illustrandam pertinent, tum è Sacris Litteris, tum ipsis Judaeorum veterum monumentis explicantur, variaque alia Sacrarum Antiquitatum themata ex occasione tractantur. Auctore Joh. Conr. Hottingero, Henr. ex Conr. Nep. Helv. Tigurino. Praemittitur celeberimi viri Hadriani Relandi Epistola ad Auctorem. Cum Indicibus necessariis, Leiden: Isaac Severinus 1713.