In 1867 he went to the Jewish Theological Seminary at Breslau, where he studied for ten years, attending at the same time the university of that city. In the summer of 1874 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Leipsic, and on January 29, 1877, he was ordained rabbi. In the latter year he declined the offer of a professorship at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, preferring to accept instead the chairs of history, philosophy of religion, and homiletics at the newly founded rabbinical school at Budapest, which he continued to hold till his death. He also at the same time taught Greek and German in the preparatory school of the same institution, carrying on this work in the Hungarian language, which he had rapidly mastered. Read Full Bio >>
As librarian of the seminary he acquired the large library of Lelio della Torre of Padua, the library of the seminary becoming by this addition one of the most valuable Hebrew libraries of Europe. As a teacher Kaufmann was highly successful; and his relation to his students was that of friendly adviser. He maintained a lively correspondence not only with the most eminent Jewish scholars, but also with the leaders in other branches of science. Kaufmann was a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Madrid and a member of the executive committee of the Budapest branch of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. He died at Karlsbad, Bohemia, on July 6, 1899.
Title page of Geschichte der Attributenlehre... by David Kaufmann (1877/1967).
Kaufmann displayed a many-sided literary activity. The bibliography of his works which M. Brann compiled for the Gedenkbuch zur Erinnerung an David Kaufmann (ed. M. Brann and F. Rosenthal, Breslau, 1900) includes 546 items, covering nearly every branch of Jewish science. His voluminous contributions to the periodical literature of the last two decades of the 19th century show him as a finished writer both of German and of Hebrew. His first and most important works, dealing with the philosophy of religion, include:
His most important historical monographs are:
Kaufmann was the first to take up the history of art in the synagogue. The following works of his in this field may be mentioned:
Kaufmann also polemized much in behalf of Judaism. Noteworthy among his writings along this line are:
He was also an active member of the Meḳiẓe Nirdamim, a society for the publication of old Hebrew manuscripts. Kaufmann was the possessor of a large library, which contained many valuable manuscripts, incunabula, and first editions, and of which the Marco Mortara library, acquired by Kaufmann, formed the nucleus.
An entire Kaufmann literature has arisen, of which the following works may be mentioned: << Less Bio