||Book of Creation, the earliest extant Hebrew text of systematic, speculative thought. Its brevity - no more than 1,600 words altogether even in its longer version - allied to its obscure and at the same time laconic and enigmatic style, as well as its terminology, have no parallel in other works on related subjects. The result of all these factors was that for over 1,000 years the book was expounded in a great many different ways, and not even the scientific investigations conducted during the 19th century succeeded in arriving at unambiguous and final results.
t.p.: Das Buch der Schoepfung. Nach den saemmtlichen Recensionen moeglichst kritisch redigirter und vocalisirter Text, nebst Uebersetzung, Varianten, Anmerkungen, Erklaerungen und einer ausfuehrlichen Einleitung von
Lazarus Goldschmidt (1871–1950), scholar, bibliophile, and translator of the Talmud into German. Goldschmidt, who was born in Plongian, Lithuania, studied first at the Slobodka yeshivah and later at the universities of Berlin and Strasbourg. His early studies were devoted to Ethiopian language and its literature. He published the Ethiopic version of the Book of Enoch (I Enoch) with Hebrew translation (1892) and Biblioteca Ethiopica (1895). Goldschmidt published an edition of the Sefer Yezirah (1894), a Hebrew translation of the Koran (1916), and prepared a new edition of Jacob Levy's Woerterbuch zum Talmud und Midrasch (1924). On the rise of Hitler to power in 1933 Goldschmidt left Germany for England and lived in London. His bibliographical works include Hebrew Incunables (1948), and the Earliest Editions of the Hebrew Bible (1950).
Goldschmidt's major contribution was his translation of the entire Babylonian Talmud into German. It appeared in two editions, a nine-volume work containing the original text and variant readings (1897–1935) and a 12-volume edition without the original text (1929–36). This translation, which was severely criticized by David Zvi Hoffman (ZHB 1, 1896), was nevertheless considered to be an important and standard work in talmudic studies. Goldschmidt also prepared a subject concordance to the Babylonian Talmud which was published posthumously (1959). He also published a facsmile edition of the Hamburg manuscript of the order Nezikin of the Babylonian Talmud (1913). A controversial figure who engaged in sharp personal polemics against leading scholars of his time (Immanuel Loew, David Hoffman, and others), he published a number of pamphlets attacking his adversaries. In his youth, he published as a practical joke an Aramaic text entitled Baraita de-Ma'aseh Bereshit (1894), which he claimed to be an old Midrash. Later he admitted that this was a parody. Goldschmidt was a collector of rare books. His collection was acquired by the Royal Library in Copenhagen.