Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Maharalgrzskl45; the Maharal confusingly divided into two people in an 18th century encyclopedia.

I came across this funny, confusing reference to the Maharal in "The modern part of an universal history from the earliest account of time," an amazing 44 volume 18th century historical encyclopedia. The section is called "History of the Dispersion of the Jews."

Once 16th century Prague is discussed, we see the following in a footnote:

The footnote continues, very next paragraph:

Liwa Bitzleer is obviously the same as Jehudah Betzaleel, or Leo Pragensis, who is known to Jews today as the Maharal (as an aside, does anyone know when and how the name Löwe lost its vav (or beth rafeh) quality and turned into Leib with a בּ ?). I think what happened was the author of this account relied on different sources and didn't realize he was reading about the same person. The first paragraph cites Basnage. I haven't yet looked it up in the original, but I guess Liwa Bitzleer comes from it. Gans' Tzemach David is cited extensively as a source, so that's probably where the second paragraph comes from.

The name Leo Pragensis wasn't made up by our author. You can see it already in a work from 1721:

Here's how Wolff lists him in Bibliotheca Hebraea Vol 1 (pg. 418), 1715:

And here, by the way, is how he consistently transcribes ליב into Latin letters:

For fun, here's the footnote in Dutch:

You can read Maharal's The Redemption and Eternity of Israel here.

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