In many respects, Johann Ernst Gerhard is a typical representative of the academic and confessional culture of his time. The son of the famous Lutheran theologian Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) was born in Jena. Apart from some travels, he spent almost his entire life in his home town. There he cultivated his scholarly interests - especially a fascination for the languages of the Orient, and there he officiated as professor of history and later theology. His works, respectful and in part innovative achievements, lost their significance in the course of the late 17th century, but nevertheless mark an important intermediate state in the scholarly culture and practice of the time. Of particular relevance to research is the extensive corpus of sources documenting Gerhard's life and oriental studies: his private library, the Bibliotheca Gerhardina and his manuscript estate have been preserved in the Gotha Research Library. They make it possible to take a detailed look at the life of a now largely forgotten but highly interesting scholar of the early modern period and to see what rank oriental studies had in the 17th century in terms of the intellectual, social and everyday seat in life.
Dr Asaph Ben-Tov studied history and classical philology in Jerusalem. He was awarded his doctorate there in 2007 with a thesis on Philipp Melanchthon's conception of Greek antiquity and his circle. His habilitation will take place in 2019 at the University of Erfurt. Dr Ben-Tov is primarily concerned with the history of Oriental studies in the early modern period and with the reception of antiquity. From 2009 to 2017, he worked at the Research Centre Gotha. Since 2019, he has been a collaborator on the EU-funded European Research Council project The European Qur'an (University of Copenhagen). A few months ago his study was published: Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621-1668): The Life and Work of a Seventeenth-Century Orientalist (Leiden 2021).