Memorial Website of Ignaz Goldziher

The Professor

“A notable teacher of Semitic languages”

József Eötvös, Minister of Religion and Public Education, as early as 1868 had already envisioned Goldziher in the position of university professor, but after Eötvös’s death the young scholar who returned in 1874 from his Eastern study tour could only be appointed an honorary lecturer at the University of Budapest, because the promised chair had already been occupied by Péter Hatala.

While this lectureship did not provide for his cost of living, Goldziher started teaching with great enthusiasm. His lectures clearly represent what preoccupied him, and what materialized in his publications. Interested students could take his lectures on Islam and its institutions, the myths of Semitic nations, the Quranic commentaries, the Islamic sects, the cultural history of the Hebrew nation, or the history of the Arabs.

He was promoted to the rank of full professor, a title that made him a faculty member with full rights, on the 1st of August 1894, but it took until the 24th of May 1905, when his predecessor retired, before he was appointed ordinary salaried Professor of Semitic Philology. Time and again he also held special lectures at the Faculty of Law, and between 1917 and 1918 accepted deanship of the Faculty of Arts.

As a full professor, he had less time available and tried to build up the syllabi of his five weekly lectures in such a way that in a few years all students should achieve familiarity with the basics of Arabic and Islamic studies and Semitic philology. Students more deeply interested in these studies, sometimes from other Faculties or Universities or even from abroad, could visit him two afternoons a week at his home, where he spent long hours with them, satisfying their inquiring minds with his vast knowledge.

Ignaz Goldziher in his old age
Ignaz Goldziher in his old age. LHAS Department of Manuscripts, Ms 5071/20
Caricature of Ignaz Goldziher
Caricature of Ignaz Goldziher during his deanship. LHAS Department of Manuscripts, D/6772
Goldziher's study where he regularly received his students. Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives,

When the Rabbinical Seminary opened in 1877, Goldziher became one of the Board members for several decades from 1880. As an eminent member of the second great generation of teachers, he also taught there, between 1900 and 1921, as a “lecturer on theology”. In his classes on Jewish religious philosophy, he laid great emphasis on the comparative study of religions. When announcing topics for prize essays, he tried to guide his students’ research interest in these directions, or towards questions of Judeo-Arabic literature. Several doctoral dissertations were also written under his guidance. Through decades, several prestigious foreign universities tried to lure him away, unsuccessfully, as he remained to the point of death faithful to his Hungarian motherland.

Photo gallery

Ahmed Fuad’s letter to Ignaz Goldziher

The draft of Ignaz Goldziher’s answer to Ahmed Fuad

This unforgettable teacher mentored many famous pupils worthy of his name. Among them, mention should be made of Bernát Heller and J. de Somogyi not only because of their own works, but also because one of them compiled Goldziher’s bibliography, while the other published Goldziher’s selected articles in six volumes.

Heller Bernát
The Bibliography of Ignaz Goldziher's works was compiled by B. Heller (1871–1943), one of Goldziher's students. LHAS Oriental Collection, 748.534
Somogyi József
The collected papers of Goldziher edited by his last student, J. de Somogyi in six volumes between 1967 and 1973. LHAS Oriental Collection, 742.364

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