HOLMBOE, Christopher Andreas. Vang/Valdres, Oppland 19.3.1796 — Christiania (Oslo) 2.4.1882. Norwegian Orientalist and Numismatician. Professor in Christiania. Son of Rev. Jens H. and Cathrine Holst. Matriculated from Cathedral School of Christiania in 1814. Studies of theology at the new university of Christiania. graduated cand.theol. 1818. Sent by Professor Hersleben he pursued further studies in Paris in 1821-22, especially Arabic and Persian under Silvestre de Sacy and Caussin de Perceval. From 1822 “Lektor i østerlandske sprog ved Kristiania universitet”, from 1825 Professor of the same. In 1830-76 also director of university’s Coin Collection. In 1834 visited Stockholm, Uppsala and Copenhagen studying local coin collections. In 1857 among founders of the Christiania Videnskabsselskab. Retired in 1876. Hon. dr. 1857 Uppsala. Married 1823 Georgine Charlotte Hermanstorff.
As a numismatician Holmboe has produced a large and often valuable literary work, but his research in Oriental studies and comparative linguistics was often speculative and uncritical, for which he was rightly criticized. He really knew Semitic languages, but in comparative IE he was a layman and unable of understanding the achievements of Rask, Bopp and Grimm. Thus for instance he thought that Old Norwegian would be more valuable than Gothic, and sought for common points between Indo-Iranian and Scandinavian mythology, traditions and customs. The latter idea was of course quite acceptable in principle, but Holmboe was unable to handle his material critically and often relied on merely superficial similarities (e.g. with “Buddhist traces in Norway”). Probably he began Sanskrit teaching at his university, although his own knowledge was very modest. He was also a noted educationalist. His works were mostly published by the university and the Videnskabsselskab.
Publications: De prisca re monetaria Norvegiae. 66 p. 7 pl. Christiania 1841; “Das älteste Münzwesen Norwegens”, Zeitschrift für Münz-, Siegel- und Wappenkunde 6, 1846, 65-112; “Bröholtfundet”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1868, 194-236; and several other publications on Scandinavian numismatics and Norwegian antiquities.
– Sanskrit og Oldnorsk. 6+32 p. Christiania 1846, French tr. in JA 4:9-10; Det Oldnorske Verbum oplyst ved Sammenligning med Sanskrit. 34 p. Christiania 1848; Om pronomen relativum og nogle relative Conjunctioner i vort Oldsprog. 12 p. Christiania 1850; Det norske Sprogs væsentligste Ordforraad, sammenlignet med Sanskrit og andre sprog af samme æt. 20+496 p. Vienna 1852.
– Traces de Buddhisme en Norvège avant l’introduction du Christianisme. 74 p. Paris 1857; “Mjølnir og Vadjra”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1862, 1-14; “Om Haugelys”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1862, 87-103; “Om Ørtug eller Tola, en skandinavisk og indisk Vægteenhed”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1862, 168-190; “Om de saakaldte Dandserhauge”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1864, 94-103; “Flaghaugen paa Karmøen og de buddhistiske Toper i Asien”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1867, 146-154; “Om Vildsviintypen paa galliske og indiske Mynter”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1868, 237-245; “Hexe og Dâkinî”, Vid. selsk. Forh. 1873, 401-421.
– Translated from Arabic: Kalila og Dimna, en række moralske og politisko Fabler. 18+171 p. Christiania 1880.
– Bibelsk Real-Ordbog. 416 p. Christiania 1868, participated in the revision of the Danish Bible; Biblical studies.
Sources: G. Dugat, Histoire des orientalistes. P. 1868, 58-71; K. Skaare, Norsk biogr. leksikon 1999-2005 with portrait (online 2009); C. Marstrander, Norsk biogr. Lexikon 6, 1934, 249f.; JRAS Proc. 1884, xxix-xxxiii; Wikipedia with photo (little more in Norwegian bokmål version).
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