Johann Andreas Eisenmenger

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Johann Andreas Eisenmenger
Titles Professor Linguarum Orientalium
Other names Ioannes Andreas Isenmannus (Latin), ‎John Andrew Eisenmenger‎ (English)
Born 1654
Died December 20th, 1704 (aged 50)
Nationality German
Known for Entdecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked)
Occupation philologer, orientalist
Appointment or employment by Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine
Charles II, Elector Palatine
Philip William, Elector Palatine
John William, Elector Palatine
Johann Philipp Andreae, printer
Religion Lutheran

Johann Andreas Eisenmenger (Mannheim, 1654 – Heidelberg, December 20, 1704) was a German Orientalist from the Electoral Palatinate, now best known as the author of Entdecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked).


Life and Work

Early Upbringing

Following the death of his father Johann David Eisenmenger – an electoral collector in Mannheim who fell ill with the pestilence plague and died in 1666 – Johann Andreas Eisenmenger was sent to Heidelberg. He received his early education at the Neckarschule (Neckar school) there, completed in in 1670.


From 1670 through 1680, after having visited the Neckar school, Johann Andreas Eisenmenger enrolled first at the Heidelberg Collegium Sapientiae and then from 1680 through 1681 in Amsterdam at the expense of the elector Carl I Ludwig. Eisenmenger’s linguistic zeal drew the attention of the elector in 1680. About his personality writer John Aikin tells: “Eisenmenger was of a mild and friendly disposition, and so exceedingly modest, that strangers in his company could not discover that he was a man of so much learning.(Aikin 1818) And universal scholar Friedrich Karl Gottlob Hirsching conveys: “Eisenmenger was of a middle stature, good body shape, withal kind, polite and modest, so that one would not have guessed such an erudition in him.(Hirsching 1795)

He sought our rabbis and studied their literature for nineteen years, fooling them into thinking he wanted to convert to Judaism.[1] During his studies, he mastered the Hebrew language and the Aramaic languages in general. He traveled at the expense of his patron Carl Ludwig also to England, where he amongst other things helped Matthäus Polus complete his five-volume collection of exegetic works Synopsis criticorum aliorumque scriptorum sive interpretum et commentatorum. Afterwards he wanted to travel to the Orient, but the unexpected death of his sponsoring elector on August 28th, 1680, prevented this.

The death of his patron brought him back to Amsterdam, where he deepened his linguistic knowledge, especially his knowledge of Arabic.

Using his Education

He transcribed during his stay in Amsterdam also the Quran cleanly manually and he also worked on a project called Lexicon Orientale Harmonicum, which he later abandoned (the entire handwritten bequest and Eisenmenger’s entire library went via auction to the professor for theology at the University of Heidelberg, Ludwig Christoph Mieg).

Upon his return to Heidelberg in the year 1693, the Palatinate, he found the region was under threat from the French. As Heidelberg was burnt and destroyed, he moved with his whole electoral government to Frankfurt am Main, where he worked as a registrar and archivist, from 1700 also in Heidelberg as registrar at the electoral chancellery. In 1699, he was offered a professorship at the University of Utrecht after Johann Leusden, had died, but Eisenmenger rejected this. In 1700 elector Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz appointed him to a professorship at the University of Heidelberg after the elector endorsed his Entdecktes Judenthum. In the year 1704, Johann Andreas Eisenmenger died due to apoplexy.

Judaism Unmasked

Title page of the first volume of Johann Andreas Eisenmenger’s Entdecktes Judenthum of 1711, which is in quarto size (as printed eleven years before)

His magnum opus Entdecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked) has a 30-year history from when work began to when it was published.

Completion of the Work

For nineteen years, Johann Eisenmenger worked on his two-volume work Entdecktes Judenthum and printed it in the year 1700, when he was still in Frankfurt. Ten to twenty copies were printed early and sent to relative circles and fellow scholars for review. Afterwards, the full two thousand copies were printed by Johann Philipp Andreae.

Book Banned by Holy Roman Empire

However, the court Jews Samson Wertheimer and Samuel Oppenheimer argued before emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire that the work should be confiscated. Thus the HRE emperor banned it for forty years, and ordered all copies confiscated. Jews had already offered 12,000 Guilder for him to not publish it, but Eisenmenger refused. The Jesuits supported the confiscation, because they believed that Roman Catholicism would be badmouthed.

Prussian King Publishes Work

When it looked like all was lost, King Frederick I of Prussia stepped in. He agreed to publish the work in the year 1711, at his own personal expense, from the royal court printing office in Berlin. The work was still technically banned in the Holy Roman Empire, but the printing bore the imprint of Königsberg in East-Prussia, beyond the borders of the Empire. The number of copies was three thousand and was printed under Prussian auspices after Frederick tried unsuccessfully to convince Emperor Leopold I and later also Emperor Joseph I to annul the ban. Frederick I of Prussia also gave the heirs of Johann Eisenmenger, who passed away in the year 1704, a large part of the copies he printed, so that they could recuperate from the damage sustained through the confiscation.

Later Editions

In the year 1740, the work was published officially in the “Holy Roman Empire”. In 1732, the first English language translation of the first volume by a J. P. Stekelin as The Traditions of the Jews, with the Expositions and Doctrines of the Rabbis came out, 1734 the second volume. In 1893, Franz Xaver Schieferl published a selected and revised edition in Dresden. August Rohling has used Eisenmenger’s Entdecktes Judenthum extensively in his vigorously discussed book Der Talmudjude, Münster in Westphalia 1871. All publications did not have any kind of “pogrom aftermath” that Frankfurt Court Jews had warned against.


The book quoted translations from the Talmud and other Hebrew sources in order to criticize these sources and Judaism. Many subsequent critics of the Talmud have used quotations from the book. Critics of the book have often not criticized the accuracy of the translations but instead argued that the quotes are taken out of context and misleadingly interpreted.

See also the articles on Criticism of the Talmud (copy of deleted Wikipedia article) (especially the section "Johann Andreas Eisenmenger") and the article on Judaism.

Bibliography of Johann Andreas Eisenmenger

Johann Leusden’s and Johann Andreas Eisenmenger’s Hebrew Bible of 1694, which is unvocalized and in duodecimo size
  • Postumously: Entdecktes Judenthum. 2 vols., Königsberg in Preußen (i. e. Berlin) 1711
  • With Johann Leusden: Biblia Hebraica non punctata, versibus, capitibus et sectionibus interstincta, notisque Masoretarum, quas Kri et Ktif appellant, instructa. Balthasar Christoph Wust, Frankfurt am Main 1694

See also



Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
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