Zunz, Leopoldalso called Yom-Tob Lippmann(b. Aug. 10, 1794, Detmold, Lippe [now in Germany]--d. March 18, 1886, Berlin, Ger.)
German historian of Jewish literature who is often considered the greatest Jewish scholar of the 19th century. In 1819 he started the movement called Wissenschaft des Judentums ("Science of Judaism"), which stressed the analysis of Jewish literature and culture with the tools of modern scholarship.
Zunz studied classics and history at Berlin University, taking his doctorate at the University of Halle. He served as a lay preacher for a congregation and worked from 1824 to 1831 as a newspaper editor and from 1840 to 1850 as a teacher and principal at the Jewish teachers' seminary in Berlin.
The Science of Judaism was initiated with his seminal work, Etwas uber die rabbinische Litteratur (1818; "On Rabbinic Literature"), which revealed to the interested public for the first time the scope and beauty of postbiblical Jewish literature. In 1819 Zunz cofounded the Verein fur Kultur und Wissenschaft der Juden ("Society for Jewish Culture and Science"). From 1822 to 1823, Zunz edited the society's periodical, Zeitschrift, to which he contributed a classic biography of Rashi, the great medieval commentator on biblical and rabbinical texts. After the society disbanded in 1824 he continued its work alone.
Zunz's Die Gottesdienstlichen Vortrage der Juden, historisch entwickelt (1832; "The Sermons of the Jews, Historically Developed") is a historical analysis of Jewish homiletic literature and its evolutionary development up to the modern-day sermon.
Zur Geschichte und Literatur (1845; "On History and Literature") is a wide-ranging work that places Jewish literary activity in the context of European literature and politics. Zunz wrote three important works on the liturgies of Judaism and served as editor in chief of a translation of the Bible (1838), for which he translated the Books of Chronicles. In his last years he wrote a series of essays on the Bible, collected in Gesammelte Schriften, 3 vol. (1875-76; "Collected Writings").