Hebrew and Yiddish manuscripts of David ben Abraham Oppenheimer

Scope and Content

The Oppenheimer manuscripts, in Hebrew, Yiddish and Aramaic, cover all areas of Hebrew learning studied at that time, from biblical commentary through Talmud, Liturgy, Kabbalah, grammar, mathematics and poetry.

Administrative / Biographical History

David ben Abraham Oppenheimer (1664-1736), Chief Rabbi of Prague, was a bibliophile. See the Neue Deutsche Biographie for details.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk).


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

All the manuscripts are described in A. Neubauer and A.E. Cowley Catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian library, and in the College Libraries of Oxford, 2 vols., Catalogi Codd. MSS. Bibliothecae Bodleianae pars xii, (Oxford, 1886-1906), vol. 1. More recently, a 'Supplement of Addenda and Corrigenda', which has to be used in conjunction with Neubauer's Catalogue, was published (Oxford 1994).

Alternative Form Available

The manuscripts have been microfilmed by the Institute for Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts in Jerusalem. They are also available at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York.

Custodial History

Following Oppenheimer's death, in 1736, the collection passed to his son Joseph Oppenheimer. Joseph died three years later and the next owner was Hirschel Isaac Oppenheimer, rabbi of Hildesheim. After his death, c. 1761, the collection passed to his widow Gnendel Oppenheimer, who asked Moses Mendelssohn to evaluate it for public auction, though the sale never took place. Around 1872 the collection passed to Gnendel Oppenheimer's cousin, Isaac Berend Salomon of Hamburg, who issued a new list of books, and offered them for sale. No acceptable offers were received, and the collection remained with Salomon, in Hamburg, until his death. The collection was stored in a Hamburg warehouse whilst litigation between the heirs was concluded; it was released by court order in 1826, and offered for sale once more. The collection was finally purchased by the Bodleian Library in 1829.

Related Material

Oppenheimer's library, of 4220 printed books, was purchased with the manuscripts in 1829. See Cowley A concise catalogue of the Hebrew printed books in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1929).

Between 1848 and 1885 manuscripts considered germane were acquired by various Bodleian curators, and classified as 'MSS. Opp. Adds.'. There were some 345 manuscripts in the series when it was stopped in 1885. The series 'MSS. Heb.', the current receptacle for Hebrew acquisitions, dates from 1886.


Shimeon Brisman A history and guide to Judaic bibliography (Cincinnati, 1977), pp. 38-40.