GILDEMEISTER, Johannes Gustav. Klein-Piemen, Mecklenburg 20.7.1812 — Bonn 11.3.1890. German Indologist and Orientalist. Professor in Marburg and Bonn. Born in Mecklenburg countryside in a Bremenian patrician family, son of Johann G. and Maria Anne Catharine Wienholt. Gymnasium in Bremen. Said to have studied Hebrew at Duisburg University (under Krummacher), but the university was closed in 1818 (and Krummacher left it much earlier). Instead, he studued from 1832 theology and Oriental languages at Göttingen (Ewald) and 1834-36 Sanskrit and Semitic languages at Bonn (Schlegel, Lassen and Freytag). Ph.D. 1838 Bonn, then to Leiden and Paris for manuscript studies. From 1839 PD für orientalische Sprachen at Bonn, taught Sanskrit, Semitic languages and OT exegesis. From 1844 ao. Professor at Bonn. Together with von Sybel he tried to prove that the holy gown of Trier is a falsification and soon found himself in the middle of a theological controversy. The Elector of Hessen was fascinated of their arguments and invited both to Marburg University in 1845. Gildemeister became Professor of Theology and Oriental languages. In 1848-58 he was also librarian (Oberbibliothekar) of the university. He took part in further theological arguments, on the reformed confession of Hessen, and wasted his time, although as a skilled dialectician and an able scholar succeeded well. In 1859 he became Freytag’s successor as ord. Professor of Oriental languages at Bonn, where he taught until his death. As Lassen was already old and ill, he taught Sanskrit, too, but was no longer capable of following the new developments in Indology. After Lassen’s death he handed Sanskrit over to Aufrecht and concentrated himself on Persian and Semitic languages. In 1889 he had to give up teaching because of an illness. Married 1852 his cousin Johanna Gildemeister, seven children.
As an Oriental scholar Gildemeister was perhaps too many-sided. He was equally interested in Hebrew, Arabic, other Semitic languages, Persian, Sanskrit, even comparative linguistics, and wasted much time in theological controversies. Therefore he was never capable of producing any great work, only articles and small monographs, and these from different fields. Nevertheless, in their time they were good and useful. H. Jacobi completed his doctorate under him.
Publications: Diss. Dissertationis de rebus Indiae, quo modo in Arabum notitiam venerint, pars prior, quam una cum Masudii loco ad codd. Parisiens. fidem recensito. 25 p. Bonnae 1838, extract of the larger work soon publ. as Scriptorum Arabum de rebus Indicis loci et opuscula inedita. Fasc. I. 303 p. B.1838.
– Die falsche Sanskritphilologie an dem Beispiel des Herrn Dr. Hoefer in Berlin aufgezeigt. 78 p. Bonn 1840.
– Edited with glossary: Kalidasae Meghasanduta et Çringaratilaka. 8+135 p. Bonn 1841.
– “Zur Etymologie altpersischer Wörter im Semitischen”, ZKM 4, 1842, 209-215.
– “Zur Theorie des Çloka”, KM 5, 1844, 260-280; “Açvatarî”, Orient & Occ. 2, 1864, 172-174; “Ein Baustein zur Geschichte der Tausend und Einen Nacht”, Festgruss Böhtlingk 1888, 34f.
– Bibliothecae Sanskritae sive recensus librorum sanskritorum hucusque typis bel lapide exscriptorum critici specimen. 192 p. Bonnae ad Rh. 1847.
– Edited: C. Lassen: Anthologia Sanscritica glossario instructa. 2nd ed. 290 p. Bonn 1865.
– “Catalogi librorum manu scriptorum orientalium. Fasc. 7. [Sanskrit manuscripts]”, Catalogi chirographorum in Bibliotheca Academica Bonnensi servatorum fasc. 13. Programm zur Universitätsgründungsfeier am 3. Aug. 1876. Bonn 1876, 121-154.
– Much on Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Hebrew, Persian etc., theological polemics, etc.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; H. Jacobi, A.D.B. 49, 1904, 354-359; *Stache-Rosen 1990, 40f; Stache-Weiske 2017, 56f., 522; Windisch 215f.; Wikipedia (German version with little more and a photo; photo in Rau 19.
*M. Hoffmann-Ruf (ed.), “Es war einfach nothwendig, so und nicht anders zu schreiben”: der Orientalist J.G.G. (1812–1890) und seine Zeit. Göttingen 2014; Johann G. Gildemeister: Briefe 1831–1888. 1. 1831–1844. 2. 1845–1859. Bonner Islamstudien 32. Berlin 2016.
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