HOFFMANN, Andreas Gottlieb

HOFFMANN, Andreas Gottlieb. Welpsleben, Grafschaft Mansfeld (Sachsen-Anhalt) 13.4.1796 — Jena 16.3.1864. German Orientalist and Theologian (a specialist of Syriac) interested in Sanskrit. Professor in Jena. Son of a miller, educated in Egeln and at Domgymnasium in Magdeburg. Without matriculation he voluntarily joined light infantry against the French in 1813. Without means he had difficulties to conclude his matriculation after the war, then found support from his teachers and could start studies of theology and Oriental languages (under Wahl and Gesenius) at Halle. Ph.D. 1820 Halle, from 1822 PD of Oriental languages there. From 1826 until his death Professor of Theology at Jena, where he also taught “privatissime” Oriental languages, including Sanskrit. 1843 geh. Kirchenrat.

Hoffmann was mainly a theologian, a Syrologist and Hebrew scholar. Following Kosegarten’s (at Jena in 1817-24) example, he offered teaching of Sanskrit, if there was somebody interested in it. For the first time it was announced in 1827, but the first students probably came only in 1836. After the interval of Brockhaus’ docentship at Jena in 1839-41, he started again his Sanskrit teaching in the 1840s and continued it until his death. He is known to have read with his students Nala, Śakuntalā, Meghadūta, Hitopadeśa, Rāmāyaṇa, etc., even the Rigveda.

Publications: Diss. Commentarius philologico-criticus in benedictionem Mosis Deut. XXXIII. Pars I. First part of this was his Ph.D. diss. Halle 1820, the whole his habilitation diss. Halle 1822; Pars II. Theol.diss. Jena 1833; Partes III-IV. Jena 1843.

Grammaticae Syriacae libri tres. 8+387 p. Halle 1827; Entwurf der hebräischen Alterthümer. 10+712 p. Weimar 1832; Das Buch Henoch. Einleitung, Uebersetzung [aus dem Äthiopischen] und Commentar. 1-2. Jena 1833-38; and several other works on Semitic languages and theology.

From 1828 editor of the famous Ersch and Gruber Encyclopedia.

Probably wrote nothing about Indology, but at least he translated J. A. Dubois’ Briefe über den Zustand des Christentums in Indien, in welchem die Bekehrung der Hindus als unausführbar dargestellt wird. 10+262 p. Neustadt a.d.O. 1824.

Sources: Redslob, A.D.B. 12, 1880, 571f.; not in N.D.B,; Sanskrit Studies in the G.D.R. 113-115; Wikipedia with portrait (more details in German version).

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