Opitius, Henry

, a learned Lutheran divine, was born Feb. 14, 1642, at Altenburg, in Misnia. After some school education, he studied at Jena and Kiel, and acquired great knowledge of the Oriental languages, under the instructions of Matthias Wasmuth. Still ambitious to add to his stock of learning, he pursued this object at Utrecht under Leusden, at London under Edmund Castell and Matthew Poole, and at Oxford under Pocock. On his return to Germany in 1671, he failed as a candidate for the place of assessor of the faculty of philosophy at Kiel; but was more successful the following year at Jena, where he took his degrees in philosophy, and taught the Oriental languages. In 1675 he was invited to Kiel to be Greek professor, on the recommendation of Wasmuth, his old master; whom, in 1678, he succeeded in the chair of Oriental languages, and held with it his Greek | professorship until 1683, when he resigned the latter to Daniel Hasenmuller. In 1689 he took his degree of doctor, and became at the same time professor of divinity; but his reputation rests chiefly on his skill in the Oriental languages; and this he might have enjoyed without diminution, had he not adopted the whimsical opinion of his master Wasmuth, and maintained the relationship between the Greek and the Oriental languages, and the connection which the dialects of the one have with those of the other. This chimerical scheme of subjecting the Greek to the rules of the Hebrew, he defended in a small work, entitled “Graecismus facilitati suse restitutus, methodo nova, eaque cum praeceptis He braicis Wasmuthianis et suis Orientalibus, quam proxime harmonica, adeoque regulis 34 succincte absolutus,Kiel, 1676, 8vo. This was twice reprinted, but raised him many enemies, not only on account of the scheme itself, but of his extravagant praise of Wasmuih, at the expence of Buxtorf, and other eminent scholars.

Opitius’s last preferment was that of ecclesiastic counsellor to the court of Holstein. He died January 24, 1712, in his seventieth year. He was unquestionably one of the ablest and most industrious Oriental scholars of his time, as an enumeration of his works will show: I. “Atrium Lingua? Sancta;,” Hamburgh, 1671, 4to. 2. “Disputatio de Davidis et Salomonis Satellitio, Crethi et Plethi, ex libris Samuelis et Regum,Jena, 1672, 4to. 3. “Synopsis Linguae Chaldaicae,” ibid. 1674, 4to. 4. “Atriuu Accentuationis S. Scriptures Veteris Test. Hebraicae,” ibid. 1674, 4to. 5. “Disputatio de usu Accentuationis geminge in gemina divisione Decalogi,Kiel, 1677, 4to. Opitius, it must be observed, was a supporter of the antiquity and authority of the Hebrew accents. 6. “Syriasmus facilitati et integritati suae restitutus, v &c. Leipsic, 1678, 4to. 7.” CbaldaismusTargumico-Rabbinicus,“&c. Kiel, 1682, 4to. 8.” Novum Lexicon Hebneo-Chaldaeo-Biblicum,“Leipsic, 1692, 4to. 9.” Biblia parva Hebrseo-Latina,“Hamburgh, 1673, 12mo. 10.” Biblia Hebraica," Kiel, 1709, 4to. This edition had engaged his attention, more or less, for almost thirty years. Opitius published also some dissertations on subjects of divinity and Oriental criticism, of less note than the above, and it is no inconsiderable proof of the esteem in which he was held, that all the works we have enumerated went through several editions. 1