Log In

Julius Preuss Edit Profile

medical historian , Physician

Julius Preuss was german physician and medical historian.


He was born into the only Jewish family in the small German village of Gross-Schoenebeck near Potsdam


His parents sent Julius Preuss to the public school in Angermunde and to the high school in Prenzlau where he already showed himself to be a brilliant student. He studied medicine at Berlin University, qualifying in 1866 with the highest marks in the examinations set by the famous Rudolf Virchow', founder of cellular pathology and a man of uncompromising standards. Preuss’ doctoral thesis was entitled “Concerning Syphilis as the Aetiology of Tabes Dorsalis and Dementia Paralytica.” Birchow complimented him as “thinking like a true physician.”


Preuss practiced for a short time in his native village before settling in 1891 in Berlin, where he had a large practice. He still found time to write profusely on medical subjects and study the Talmud. Among his medical articles were “Concerning Fright in Pregnant Women” (1892) and “On the Pathology of the Tongue” (1893). Preuss is, however, best-known for his Biblisch-talmudische Medizin, W'hich was preceded by several smaller articles on biblical and Talmudic subjects, the first being the Der Arzt in Bibel und Talmud (“The Physician in the Bible and Talmud,” 1894).

Although he never attended a Jewish school as a boy, Preuss developed a deep love for the philology of ancient Hebrew as well as an exceptional grasp of Talmudic texts. His credo was “The foundation and first requirement of historical research into antiquity is philological minutiae. It was already- stated by the ancient Epictetus that ‘every understanding of sources begins with a study of the words.’” Biblisch-talmudische Medizin was acclaimed as an authoritative work, the first such study to be written by a physician and encompassing the whole range of Talmudic literature. In the introduction to the first edition (1911). Preuss, recognizing his own limitations on the subject, humbly wrote: “It is unlikely that, dealing with the subject for the first time, I should have avoided mistakes. I do not ask for the customary indulgence and I will be thankful for every notification of deficiencies and errors.” The first English translation, Julius Preuss' Biblical and Talmudic Medicine w'as published by Fred Rosner in 1977. Preuss died from complications of a chest ailment.