BERNAYS, JAKOB (1824-1881), German philologist and philosophical writer, was born at Hamburg of Jewish parents on the 11th of September 1824. His father, Isaac Bernays (1792-1849), a man of wide culture, was the first orthodox German rabbi to preach in the vernacular. Jakob studied from 1844 to 1848 at the university of Bonn, the philological school of which, under Welcker and Ritschl (whose favourite pupil Bernays became), was the best in Germany. In 1853 he accepted the chair of classical philology at the newly founded Jewish theological college (the Fränkel seminary) at Breslau, where he formed a close friendship with Mommsen. In 1866, when Ritschl left Bonn for Leipzig, Bernays returned to his old university as extraordinary professor and chief librarian. He remained at Bonn until his death on the 28th of May 1881. His chief works, which deal mainly with the Greek philosophers, are: - Die Lebensbeschreibung des J.J. Scaliger (1855); Uber das Phokylidische Gedicht (1856); Die Chronik des Sulpicius Severus (1861); Die Dialoge des Aristoteles im Verhältniss zu seinen übrigen Werken (1863); Theophrastos' Schrift über Frömmigkeit (1866); Die Heraklitischen Briefe (1869); Lucian und die Cyniker (1879); Zwei Abhandlungen über die Aristolelische Theorie des Dramas (1880). The last of these was a republication of his Grundzüge der verlorenen Abhandlungen des Aristoteles über die Wirkung der Tragödie (1857), which aroused considerable controversy.
See notices in Biographisches Jahrbuch für Alterthumskunde (1881), and Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, xlvi. (1902); art. in Jewish Encyclopaedia; also Sandys, Hist. of Class. Schol. iii. 176 (1908).
His brother, Michael Bernays (1834-1897), was born in Hamburg on the 27th of November 1834. He studied first law and then literature at Bonn and Heidelberg, and obtained a considerable reputation by his lectures on Shakespeare at Leipzig and an explanatory text to Beethoven's music to Egmont. Having refused an invitation to take part in the editorship of the Preussiche Jahrbücher, in the same year (1866) he published his celebrated Zur Kritik und Geschichte des Goetheschen-Textes. He confirmed his reputation by his lectures at the university of Leipzig, and in 1873 accepted the post of extraordinary professor of German literature at Munich specially created for him by Louis II. of Bavaria. In 1874 he became an ordinary professor, a position which he only resigned in 1889 when he settled at Carlsruhe. He died at Carlsruhe on the 25th of February 1897. At an early age he had embraced Christianity, whereas his brother Jakob remained a Jew. Among his other publications were: Briefe Goethes an F.A. Wolf (1868); Zur Enstehungsgeschichte des Schlegelschen Shakespeare (1872); an introduction to Hirzel's collection entitled Der junge Goethe (1875); and he edited a revised edition of Voss's translation of the Odyssey. From his literary remains were published Schriften zur Kritik und Litteraturgeschichte (1895-1899).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)