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DEPPING, GEORGES BERNARD:

German-French historian; born in Münster, Germany, May 11, 1784; died in Paris Sept. 5, 1853. He went to Paris in 1803, where he lived as teacher and writer. Besides other historical works, he wrote: "Les Juifs dans le Moyen Age, Essai Historique sur Leur Etat Civil, Commercial et Littéraire," Paris, 1834; 2d ed., 1844; German transl., Stuttgart, 1834. Depping was especially attracted to the history of the Jews in Europe during the Middle Ages by "its wealth of instruction for us; one can see from this history how fanaticism has been able to root out kindness and neighborly love, . . . and what misfortunes met those exiles who in barbaric times wished to preserve their national customs and a religion offensive to those among whom they lived." The book owed its origin to the offer of a prize, in 1821, by the Royal Academy for a work describing the condition of the Jews in France during the medieval period. Depping's work was given honorable mention, but did not win the prize. He later enlarged the work, extendingits scope to the general history of the Jews in Europe. The medieval Christian sources—documents, letters, chronicles, and histories, especially those dealing with the history of the Jews in France —were studied by Depping with great diligence and not without critical acumen. This fact gives importance to the book. But it is to be regretted that those rabbinical sources which were not accessible in the form of translations were but seldom consulted. As a consequence the few passages relating to the literature of the Jews are of no value (compare, especially on Rashi, pp. 113 et seq.; Zunz, "Z. G." pp. 151, 446). The Introduction (pp. v.-xxiv.) contains a short but valueless review of the history of the Jews up to their appearance in Europe. Depping's style is pleasing.

Bibliography:
  • Depping, Erinnerungen aus dem Leben eines Deutschen in Paris, Leipsic, 1832;
  • La Grande Encyclopédie, xiv. 179;
  • Encyc. Brit. New American Supplement, ii. 1030;
  • Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, iv. 746;
  • Geiger, Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol. i. 170, 182, 378; ii. 504, 517.
D. M. Sc.
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