The science that deals with the description and classification of books. As applied to books of Jewish interest, it includes (a) Hebraica, or books written or printed in Hebrew characters; and (b) Judaica, or books in other languages, written by or about Jews. Strictly speaking, the whole of Biblical and Apocryphal literature and the vast array of commentaries thereon would belong to Jewish bibliography; but this is so fully treated elsewhere, that Jewish bibliographers as a rule have not paid so much attention to it. Even with this limitation, the extent of the subject is wide enough, a conservative estimate giving 30,000 as the number of Hebrew works in existence; and the same number of works in modern languages on Jewish topics have been published during the past forty years alone in the special journals devoted to this subject. Any person desiring to keep himself fully acquainted with Jewish literature in its wider sense would probably have to take account of over 3,000 (800 Biblical) publications per annum. Many of these still remain undescribed; and for others search must be made in various quarters.


The materials from which a description of the extent of Jewish literature can be set forth consist, in the first instance, of the collections of books and manuscripts made by various Book-Collectors in the past, especially of those collections of collections which go to make up public Libraries. The earliest accounts of Jewish literature were based in large measure upon such collections; as Bartolocci's on that of the Vatican, and Wolf's on the Oppenheimer collection. Later, with the growth of knowledge about the extent of the literature, any description of it would depend in large measure upon published accounts, or Catalogues, which have naturally been devoted largely to manuscripts. With the growth of interest in the history of printing in general, special attention began to be paid to the earliest Hebrew printed books, especially those printed before 1540, and known as Incunabula.

Earliest Bibliographies.

Having in view the fact that the majority of early Hebrew printed books were produced in Italy, it is not surprising that the earliest account of Hebrew literature in its rabbinic phases should have been made by an Italian; though it is a matter for some surprise to find that he was a Christian. Bartolocci, in his "Bibliotheca Magna Rabbinica" (Rome, 1675-94), arranged the books under the names of 1,960 rabbis; and his work was supplemented by Imbonato, whose "Bibliotheca Latino-Hebraica" gives, under 1,319 numbers, 2,166 works written in Latin on rabbinic subjects. These were followed by the first Jewish bibliographer, Shabbethai Bass, who, in his "Sifte Yeshenim" (Amsterdam, 1680), mainly used the books of the Bet ha-Midrash and the library of Aguilar. Bass adopted the method of arranging the books according to their titles, giving an index of authors and subjects at the end. This plan is specially applicable to Hebrew books, the titles of which rarely indicate their contents (see Titles of Books). Bass's work forms the main foundation of Jewish bibliography of Hebrew books; his method having been continued and supplemented by J. Heilprin and Benjacob, whose "Oẓar ha-Sefarim" is the most complete title-list of Hebrew books in existence. S. Wiener, in his elaborate catalogue of the Friedland collection at the Asiatic Museum, St. Petersburg, also adopts the title-list as the most suitable in dealing with Hebrew books.

J. C. Wolf.

These attempts of Bartolocci and Bass were, however, entirely superseded by the great work of John Christian Wolf, who in his "Bibliotheca Hebræa" (4 parts, Hamburg, 1715-33) brought together almost all the accessible information relating to Jewish authors and their works, as well as to the writings of Christians on Jewish subjects. The first part gives a catalogue of authors with the names in Hebrew, which leads at times to somewhat curious results; the second is more of a subject classification of the whole of early Jewish literature, including a fair account of the Talmud and of the Targumim, from which later writers have frequently drawn; and the remaining two parts are supplements containing the additional knowledge acquired by Wolf in the later years of his life. In the main, Wolf's materials consisted of the remarkable Oppenheimer collection, which ultimately went to the Bodleian Library, Oxford; and for this reason Steinschneider's great catalogue of the Bodleian collection repeats in improved form much of Wolf's information. Considering his opportunities, Wolf shows remarkable acumen and accuracy; and in some respects his work still remains of value. A sort of supplement was provided by Köcher in his "Nova Bibliotheca Hebraica" (Jena, 1783-84).

The next name of importance is that of H+1E24ayyim Joseph David Azulai, whose "Shem ha-Gedolim" (Leghorn, 1786-96) added considerably to ShabbethaiBass, mainly from works printed at Leghorn. He was supplemented by the joint labors of Nepi and Ghirondi (Triest, 1853), who gave an account of the Italian rabbis and their voluminous but not very important productions. Azulai's work was consolidated and rearranged by Benjacob in the Wilna edition, 1852.


By a fortunate chance the attention of an Italian professor, G. B. de Rossi, was drawn to the subject of early Hebrew printing in Italy; and in a number of monographs on that subject ("De Typographia Hebr.-Ferrar. Comment. Historicus," Parma, 1780; "Annali Ebreo-Tipografici di Sabionetta," Erlangen, 1783; "Annales Hebræo-Typographici," sec. xv., 1795; "Annales Hebræo-Typographici ab Anno 1501 ad 1540," Parma, 1799) he laid a firm foundation for a description of all Hebrew books printed up to 1540. The few additions that have been made in similar lists by Cassel and Steinschneider, Schwab and Chwolson, have only served to show the comparative completeness with which De Rossi did his work. Renewed attention has been paid to the subject of early Hebrew printed books during the last decade.

With the rise of Jewish science under Rapoport and Zunz, bibliography entered upon a new era. The same accuracy, thoroughness, and critical acumen which were being devoted to the contents of books were also exercised in the description of their external characteristics. Zunz himself devoted considerable attention to the subject, especially to an enumeration of the productions of the printing-presses of Mantua and Prague; and he also gave a summary account of the Italian libraries. Among the workers in the field of Jewish bibliography in the early part of the nineteenth century may be mentioned Dukes and Carmoly; while Michael offered all the treasures of his library—full of the rarest books—to anybody interested in the subject, though an account of them appeared only after his death. The "Literaturblatt des Orients," founded by Julius Fürst, also helped to revive the study of Jewish literature; while its review columns kept Jewish scholars acquainted with contemporary productions.

Julius Fürst.

All these various activities were summed up in the ambitious attempt of Julius Fürst in his "Bibliotheca Judaica," Leipsic, 1848-63. This work gave short titles of about 13,500 (Fürst says 18,000) Hebrew books, and of perhaps twice that number of Judaica. The latter contained many, if not most, of Wolf's useless Latin dissertations by Christian writers, as well as a considerable amount of merely Biblical exegesis and criticism by Christian theologians. Notwithstanding its errors of omission and commission, Fürst's work still retains considerable value as the first attempt to cover the whole field of Jewish bibliography. The names of many writers and books are to be found only in its pages; and the clearness of print and the shortened form of titles make it easy to consult. On the other hand, its dates, and indeed data generally, are far from trust-worthy; and more than four-fifths of his information was confessedly from second-hand sources.


The only possibility of improvement in regard to accuracy was seen to be in more careful cataloguing; and the epoch after Fürst is characterized by a succession of masterpieces in this direction, mainly executed by Moritz Steinschneider (b. 1816), by whose gigantic labors Jewish bibliography has been organized and made an adequate instrument for the study of Jewish literature and history. As the result of thirteen years' continuous labor, he produced his colossal catalogue of the Hebrew books in the Bodleian Library ("Catalogus Librorum Hebræorum in Bibliotheca, Bodleiana"), including all works not in the library, but published up to 1732. Besides accurate descriptions of each book from personal examination, Steinschneider generally gives notes upon the author and his works. In addition to this, he has described the manuscripts in the libraries at Hamburg, Leyden, Munich, and Berlin, besides some private collections, and in every way has given a model of conciseness and accuracy in the description of Hebrew works. The same qualities are shown, perhaps in an even higher degree, in the "Catalogue of the Hebrew Books in the Library of the British Museum," by J. Zedner (London, 1867), whose punctilious accuracy and pains-taking determination of names and dates leave nothing to be desired. The example of the latter authority has been followed by Roest in his catalogue of the Rosenthal collection at Amsterdam ("Catalog der Hebraica und Judaica aus der L. Rosenthal'schen Bibliothek," Amsterdam, 1875). Steinschneider's work with regard to manuscripts has been supplemented by the careful but somewhat sparse account of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian Library by A. Neubauer (Oxford, 1886).

Periodical Literature.

Besides devoting so much attention to the bibliography of the past, Steinschneider founded an organ, "Hebräische Bibliographie," in 1858 for the actual description of the Jewish literature of the present. The "Literaturblatt des Orients," and even the general Jewish press, had sporadically reviewed publications of Jewish interest as they appeared; but Steinschneider was the first to attempt a systematic, continuous, and complete account of Judaica and Hebraica, accompanied by short critical notices by himself and friends. This has been continued in the "Zeitschrift für Hebräische Bibliographie" (1898, in progress). In addition to these may be mentioned N. Brüll's elaborate reviews in his "Jahrbücher" (1874-89); the lists given in the "Orientalische Bibliographie"; the periodical bibliographical notices which appeared in the "Revue Etudes Juives" (especially the careful ones of the late I. Loeb); besides the series of special bibliographies such as the Biblical ones in Stade's "Zeitschrift" and the "Theologischer Jahresbericht," and the historical in the "Jahresberichte für Gesch. Wissenschaft." Mr. Israel Abrahams gives in the "Jewish Chronicle" a summary account of current Jewish bibliography which is at once up-to-date and trustworthy. M. Schwab has compiled (1899-1900) a useful author and subject-index to Jewish periodical literature. The only subject-index that has hitherto been published, including both booksand periodicals, is the careful one, compiled by Rev. A. Löwy, of the small collection of Hebraica and Judaica in the Guildhall Library, London. A much more ambitious attempt is being made by A. S. Freidus to compile a card catalogue (author, subject, and title) of the 12,000 volumes and pamphlets of the New York Public Library, which already (1902) runs to about 25,000 entries, including articles in periodicals, and even references to Jewish topics found in the works of the general library. That collection has been minutely arranged on the shelves according to a comprehensive plan containing about 500 subdivisions, which may be considered the first elaborate scheme for classifying Jewish literature for library purposes (see Library Classification). No attempt has been made since Fürst to compile a complete author bibliography; but his work has been supplemented by a bookseller, C. D. Lippe of Vienna, who, in three successive issues of a "Bibliographisches Lexicon" (1881-99), gives a tolerably full but inaccurate account of contemporary Jewish writers (mainly contributed by themselves); while William Zeitlin has made an attempt to enumerate modern Hebrew works (1789-1890) in his "Bibliotheca Hebraica Post-Mendelssohniana" (Leipsic, 1891-95).

Subject Bibliographies.

The present phase of Jewish bibliography is tending toward the compilation of lists of works relating to special subjects. Here, again, Steinschneider has been the pioneer. Most of his works, while professedly dealing with special topics, concentrate attention upon the bibliography of the subject; and among other topics which he has thus bibliographized may be mentioned the polemical literature of Jews and Mohammedans, mathematical writers among the Jews, Hebrew translations, chess, etc. Besides these, his treatises on Jewish literature in Ersch and Gruber's "Allg. Encyc. der Wissenschaft und Künste" (English translation, London, 1857, and on Italian Jewish literature in the "Monatsschrift," 1898-99) are in large measure bibliographical guides. While an immense debt of gratitude is due to Steinschneider for the facilities he has thus afforded, it must be confessed that the style in which he has presented his results is sometimes unclear owing to excessive conciseness; and he has the unfortunate habit of piling up notices which turn out, on inquiry, to be perfectly useless.

Having in view the present tendency of Jewish bibliography, it may be suitable and useful to conclude this rough account with a short bibliography of the special bibliographies that have more recently been made. Lists made by Wolf and repeated by Fürst are of no value for practical purposes.

  • Anthropology: Billings, "Index-Catalogue of the Surgeon-General's Library," s.v. "Jews"; W. Z. Ripley, "The Races of Europe," New York, 1900.
  • Anti-Christiana: De Rossi, "Bibliotheca Judaica-Anti-Christiana," Parma, 1800.
  • Arabic Writers: Steinschneider, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." xiii. 483-486 (also reprint).
  • Blood Accusation: Strack, "Das Blut," Munich, 1900.
  • Cabala: Wünsche, in Herzog-Hauck, "Real-Encyc." s. v. "Kabbala."
  • Calendar: Zeitlin, in Gurland, "Luah."
  • Catechisms: Strassburger, in his "Gesch. des Unterrichtswesens," pp. 277-281, Stuttgart, 1885; Schreiber, in "Reform Advocate," Chicago, 1901-2.
  • Ceremonies and Customs: A. S. Freidus (printed but not published).
  • Chess: Steinschneider, in Van der Linde, "Gesch. des Schachspiels," Leyden, 1873 (also separate).
  • Circumcision: "Congrès d'Anthropologie à Lisbonne," pp. 598 et seq., Lisbon, 1884; Tomés, "Della Circoncisione," pp. 67-71, Florence, 1895.
  • Classical Writers: Reinach,"Textes"; idem, in Daremberg and Saglio, "Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines," s.v. "Judæi"; Mayor, in Notes to Juvenal, x. 100 et seq.
  • Conversionism (Early): Wolf, "Bibl. Heb." ii. pp. 1055-58, 1067-72. (Later) De Le Roi, "Die Evangelische Christenheit und die Juden," Leipsic, 1884-92.
  • Drama, Hebrew: Berliner, in Moses Zacuto, "Yesod 'Olam," Introduction, Berlin, 1874.
  • Education: Strassburger, "Gesch. des Unterrichtswesens," pp. 273-310, Stuttgart, 1885.
  • England: Jacobs and Wolf, "Bibl. Anglo-Jud." London, 1886.
  • Epitaphs: De Castro, "Keur von Grafsteenen," pp. 125-126, Leyden, 1883.
  • Ethics: S. Stein, "Materialien zur Ethik des Talmuds," pp. 45-185, Frankfort, 1894.
  • Frankel: Brann, in "Monatsschrift," xlv. 836-852.
  • Future Life: E. Abbot, "Literature of a Future Life," Nos. 1734-1962, 1891.
  • Geography: Zunz, in "G. S." i. 146-216.
  • Germany: M. Stern, "Quellenkunde zur Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, Berlin, 1892. Early History: Aronius, "Regesten," Berlin, 1902.
  • Graetz: Abrahams, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." iv. 194-203.
  • Haggadah (Passover): Steinschneider, in Landshuth, "Maggid me-Reshit," Berlin, 1856; Wiener, "Bibliotheca Friedlandiana," letter ה (in preparation).
  • Hebraists, Christian: Steinschneider, in "Zeit. für Hebr. Bibl." i.-v.; Darling, "Cyc. Bibliographica," London, 1854-59.
  • Hebrew Language: Steinschneider, "Bibliographisches Handbuch," Leipsic, 1859; idem, "Zusätze," 1896.
  • Incunabula: G. B. de Rossi, as above; Schwab, "Les Incunables Hébreux," Paris, 1881; Soncinos Sacchi, "I Tipografl Ebrei," Cremona, 1877; Manzoni, "Annali Tipografici dei Soncino," Bologna, 1883.
  • Inquisition: E. N. Adler, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." xiii. 423-432.
  • Italian Writers: Mortara, "Indice"; Nepi-Ghirondi, "Toledot Gedole Yisrael"; Steinschneider, in "Monatsschrift," xlii, xliii.
  • Jesus in Jewish Literature: Fürst, "Bibl. Jud." ii. 63-64.
  • Jewish Question: Jacobs, "Jewish Question," 1875-84, London, 1885.
  • Karaites: Frankl, in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." 2d ser., xxxiii. s.v. "Karaiten; Ryssel, in Herzog-Hauck, "Real-Encyc." s.v.
  • Kaufmann, David: "Gedenkbuch zur Erinnerung an David Kaufmann," Breslau, 1900.
  • Ladino: Kayserling, in Ersch and Gruber, "Encyc." s.v.
  • Loeb: "Rev. Et. Juives," xxiv, 184-195.
  • Luzzatto: "Catalogo Razionato degli Scritti di S. D. L.," Padua, 1881.
  • Maimonides: Steinschneider, in "Cat. Bodl." cols. 1937-1942. Mishneh Torah: Jellinek, "Kontres Rambam," Vienna, 1893.
  • Mathematicians: A. Goldberg, "Die Jüdischen Mathematiker," Berlin, 1891 (an index to Steinschneider's "Die Mathematik und die Juden").
  • Midrash: Zunz, "G. V." 2d ed., 1892; Strack, in Herzog-Hauck, "Real-Encyc." s.v. "Midrasch"; Jellinek, "Kontres Maggid," Vienna, 1878.
  • Music: "Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh." London, 1887; M. W. Kaufmann, Katalog No. 5.
  • Names: Jellinek, "Kontres ha-Mazkir," Vienna, 1893.
  • Numismatics: Madden, "Coins of the Jews," London, 1881.
  • Oath ("More Judaico"): Steinschneider, in "Zeit. Hebr. Bib." i.
  • Paleography: Steinschneider, "Vorlesungen über die Kunde der Hebräischen Handschriften," in "Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen" (also separate, Berlin, 1892).
  • Palestine: Steinschneider, in Röhricht and Meissner, "Deutsche Pilgrimweiser," pp. 548-648, 1892; idem, in Luncz," Jerusalem," 1892, iii., iv; Röhricht, "Bibliotheca Geographica Palestinæ," Berlin, 1890.
  • Periodicals, General: Harkavy, in "Yevreskaya Biblioteka," vii., viii.; A. S. Freidus, in "Bulletin New York Public Library," July, 1902. Hebrew: Van Straalen, "Cat. Hebrew Books Brit. Mus." pp. 188-192, 294, 295; Sablotzki, in "Oẓar ha-Sifrut," v. 270-283. American: A. S. Freidus, in "Am. Jewish Year Book," i. 271-282.
  • Philo: Schürer, "Gesch."
  • Piyyuṭim: Writers on: Zunz, "Ritus," i. Writers of: Zunz, "Litteraturgesch." Berlin, 1865; idem, "Nachtrag." 1867. First Words: Gestettner, "Mafteaḥ," Berlin, 1889.
  • Polemics, Islamite: Steinschneider, "Polemische Litteratur."
  • Portugal: Remedios, "Os Judeus em Portugal," Coimbra, 1895, repeated by E. N. Adler, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." xiii.
  • Precepts, The 613: Jellinek, "Ḳontres Taryag," Vienna, 1878.
  • Proverbs: Bernstein, "Catalogue des Livres Parémiologiques," Index, pp. 625-627, Warsaw, 1900.
  • Purim and Parodies: Steinschneider, in "Isr. Letterbode," vii. 1-13, ix. 45-58; idem, in "Monatschrift."
  • Rapoport: Bernfeld, "Toledot Shir," Warsaw, 1900; "Das Centennarium S. I. L. Rapoports," 1900, pp. 414-416.
  • Responsa: British Museum Catalogues; Rabbinowicz, "Ohel Abraham," s.v. .
  • Russia: "Sistematicheski Ukazatel, "St. Petersburg, 1893. History: Regesty," i.
  • Sermons: Maybaum, "Jüdische Homiletik" (arranged by texts), Berlin, 1890. Funeral: Jellinek, "Kontres ha-Maspid," Vienna, 1884.
  • Shulḥan 'Aruk: Steinschneider, in "Cat. Bodl."
  • Spain: Jacobs, "Sources," pp. 213-244, London, 1894.
  • Spanish Writers: Kayserling, "Bibl. Esp.-Port.-Jud." 1890.
  • Spanish Poets: Idem, "Sephardim," Leipsic, 1859.
  • Spinoza: Van der Linde, "Spinoza, Bibliografie," 1871.
  • Steinschneider: Kohut, in "Steinschneider Festschrift."
  • Talmud: Mielziner, "Introduction to the Talmud," pp. 61-102, Cincinnati, 1894; S. Stein, "Materialien zur Ethik," 1894, pp. 64-179. Editions: Rabbinowicz, "Ma'amar 'al Hadfasat ha-Talmud," Munich, 1876. Translations: Bischoff, "Kritische Gesch. der Thalmud Uebersetzungen." Methodology: Jellinek, "Ḳontres Kelalim," Vienna, 1878. Commentaries: idem, "Ḳontres ha-Mefaresh," Vienna, 1877. Indexes: idem, "Ḳontres ha-Mafteaḥ," Vienna, 1881.
  • Ten Tribes: Bancroft, "Native Races of Pacific," vol. i.
  • Tobacco: Steinschneider, in "Deborah," ix. 3-4, Cincinnati, 1894.
  • Translators: Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." Berlin, 1893.
  • Tunis: Cazès, "Notes Bibliographiques sur la Littérature Juive-Tunisienne," Paris, 1893.
  • Wandering Jew: Heiòig, in "Centralblatt für Bibliothekswesen."
  • Wills, Ethical: Abrahams, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." iii. 481-484, iv. 343-344.
  • Woman: Steinschneider, "Heb. Bibl," i., ii., xix.
  • Yiddish: Early Literature, Printed: Steinschneider, in "Serapeum," ix., x. Manuscripts: ib. xxv., xxvi., xxx. Later Literature: L. Wiener, in "History of Yiddish Literature," pp. 355-382, New York, 1899. Philology: Landau, in "Deutsche Mundarten," ii. 126-132, Vienna, 1896; Sainean, in "Revue de la Société Linguistique," 1902.
  • Zunz: Steinschneider, "Die Schriften von Dr. L. Zunz," Berlin, 1874.
  • Zunz, Bibliographisches, in Z. G. pp. 214-303;
  • Fürst, Bibl. Jud. iii., Preface.
L. G. J.