DEUTSCH, EMANUEL OSCAR MENAHEM:
Orientalist; born at Neisse, in Silesia, Oct. 28, 1829; died at Alexandria, Egypt, May 12, 1873. His early training was conducted by his uncle, David Deutsch of Myslowitz, to whom he owed his wide acquaintance with Hebrew literature. His education was completed at the University of Berlin, where, under Boeckh and Meineke, he became an accurate classical scholar. From Berlin he went to London to accept an appointment in the British Museum, to which he had been recommended by Asher Asher. Thenceforward he was known for his labors in the British Museum and for the efforts he made to promote Semitic studies in the outside world. His work in the library is, of course, not on record in a separate form; and his best official monument is to be found in the "Phenician Inscriptions" published by the trustees, in which the editor, W. S. A. Vaux, received invaluable aid from him:
Deutsch's literary work outside the museum was of two kinds: either, purely scientific essays, acute-in criticism and, lucid in statement—like the article on the Targumim and on the Samaritan Pentateuch in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible"—or brilliant popular expositions of some learned work, like his famous essay on the Talmud in the "Quarterly Review" for Oct., 1867. This created probably a greater sensation than any other review article in England dealing with a purely literary subject, and caused that number of the "Quarterly" to be repeatedly reprinted. The article itself was translated into several languages, and contributed to create an interest in the Talmud wherever the essay was read. Though there was little that was new in the facts adduced—the literary history being derived from Wolf and the wise and witty sayings from Dukes—yet the skill with which the pertinent topics were grouped, the brilliancy of the style, and the underlying enthusiasm of the writer made it a striking performance. Some of its effect was due to the implied suggestion that the key to the life of the founder of Christianity was to be sought for in the surrounding ideas in Palestine. The renewed attention given to the Talmud in Christian circles, at any rate in England, was undoubtedly due to the article. The ambitionof his life to produce a more exhaustive work on the Talmud was thus shadowed forth; but the failure of his health compelled him to abandon the project.
This famous essay was succeeded some time afterward by an article in the "Quarterly Review" on "Islam," which was not so successful because not dealing with so novel a subject and because Deutsch was not a special student of Arabic. He also contributed the article on "Versions" to Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," and besides wrote more than 190 articles for "Chambers's Cyclopædia." Deutsch had an excellent faculty, cultivated by practise, of deciphering inscriptions. His letters to the "Times" respecting the discovery and contents of the Moabite Stone aroused considerable attention.
During the sittings of the Ecumenical Council at the Vatican, 1869-70, Deutsch acted as special correspondent of the "Times," and wrote a number of incisive letters on its deliberations.
- H. R. Haweis, in Contemporary Review, 1873;
- Jewish Chronicle, May, 1873:
- Times, and Daily News, May 14, 1873;
- Athenœum, May 17, 1873;
- Lady Strangford, memoir of Deutsch in Literary Remains, London, 1874;
- S. Lane-Poole, in Dict. Nat. Biography.