de Lagarde, Paul Anton (1827–1891)

Scholar of Semitic and Eastern languages and literatures; professor of Eastern languages at the University of Göttingen. His earliest publications are under the name Bötticher (Boetticher), the name of his father, which he later replaced by de Lagarde (sometimes Latinized into Lagardius), a name that existed in his mother’s family.

Born in Berlin, de Lagarde studied theology and oriental languages in Berlin and in Halle, where he habilitated in 1851. In the following years, he spent much time in the British Museum in London, where he was among the first Western scholars to study the Syriac manuscripts that had arrived from Dayr al-Suryān in the 1840s. Many of his publications are based on these manuscripts. It was only in 1869 that he was appointed professor at Göttingen, as the successor of the famous Semitist and Hebrew Bible scholar Heinrich Ewald (one of Th. Nöldeke’s teachers).

In addition to his publications in such fields as Hebrew, Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, and Septuagint, de Lagarde published a number of Syriac texts: the Didascalia Apostolorum (1854); other collections of ecclesiastical law (1856); Titus of Bostra’s work against the Manichaeans, preserved in ms. Brit. Libr. Add. 12,150 of the year 411 (1859); Syriac texts dealing with agriculture and related issues, continuing the Greek tradition of Geoponika (1860); the ‘Recognitions’ attributed to Clement of Rome, again from ms. Brit. Libr. Add. 12,150 (1861); and ‘Apocryphal’ books of the OT (1861: Bar Sira, Wisdom of Solomon, Tobith, Baruch I and II, Epistle of Jeremiah, Judith, Prayer of Ananias and his companions, Bel, Dragon, Susannah, I Ezra, I and II Maccabees). A number of shorter texts were grouped together and published as Analecta Syriaca (1858) and Praetermissorum libri duo (1879; which has Syriac printed in Hebrew characters). He also planned a series entitled Bibliotheca Syriaca, of which, however, he was able to prepare only the first volume which, after his death, his student A. Rahlfs edited (1892). Whereas in his public and university life de Lagarde did not shy away from expressing strong views  — thereby sometimes provoking harsh reactions and controversy, not least with his Jewish colleagues  — his Syriac work is sober and very solid. Most of his editions have been often reprinted and are still valuable today (some of them have never been replaced!). De Lagarde’s interests extended beyond philology and text editions, into the fields of linguistics and lexicography. Quite impressive for his day is his list of ‘Persian, Armenian, and Indian words in Syriac’ (included in his Gesammelte Abhandlungen), which is often quoted in C. Brockelmann’s Lexicon Syriacum.

De Lagarde was known for his painstaking attention to correct and precise typesetting, reflecting the ms. model as closely as possible. Towards the end of his life he seems to have been instrumental in the development of a new Syriac printing type by the Leipzig printing house Drugulin. He did not live to see it used in his own publications, but it was successfully used from the early 1890s onwards, and it was eternalized in the second edition of Nöldeke’s Kurzgefasste syrische Grammatik (1898; repr. 1966) and in its subsequent English translation (1904; repr. 2001).

A volume to commemorate de Lagarde’s Syriac work in Göttingen was published in 1968 by the Göttinger Arbeitskreis für syrische Kirchengeschichte. Several of the contributions deal with topics on which de Lagarde himself had published or — as in the case of Anṭun of Tagrit — in which he had been particularly interested.

    Select publications by de Lagarde

    • Didascalia apostolorum syriace (1854).
    • Reliquiae iuris ecclesiastici antiquissimae syriace (1856).
    • Analecta syriaca (1858).
    • Titi Bostreni Contra Manichaeos libri quotuor syriace (1859).
    • Geoponicon in sermonem syriacum versorum quae supersunt (1860).
    • Libri Veteris Testamenti apocryphi syriace (1861).
    • Clementis Romani Recognitiones syriace (1861).
    • Gesammelte Abhandlungen (1866). (1–84: ‘Persische, armenische und indische Wörter im Syrischen)
    • (ed. A. Rahlfs), Bibliothecae Syriacae a Paulo de Lagarde collectae quae ad philologiam sacram pertinent (1892).

    Secondary Sources

    • J. F.  Coakley, The Typography of Syriac. A historical catalogue of printing types 1537–1958 (2006), 144–46.
    • R. J. H.  Gottheil, ‘Bibliography of the works of Paul de Lagarde’, JAOS 15 (1893), CCXI–CCXXIX. (specifically Syriac publications are on CCXX–CCXXII [nos. 137–66a])
    • Paul de Lagarde und die syrische Kirchengeschichte, ed. Göttinger Arbeitskreis für syrische Kirchengeschichte (1968). (Unsigned note on P. de Lagarde on p. 3–7)
    • A.  Rahlfs, Paul de Lagardes wissenschaftliches Lebenswerk im Rahmen einer Geschichte seines Lebens dargestellt (Mitteilungen des Septuaginta-Unternehmens 4.1; 1928).

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “de Lagarde, Paul Anton,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “de Lagarde, Paul Anton,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “de Lagarde, Paul Anton.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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