Hiob Ludolf (or Job Leutholf) (June 15, 1624 - April 8, 1704) was a German orientalist, and born at Erfurt. Edward Ullendorff rates Ludolf as having "the most illustrious name in Ethiopic scholarship". Ludolf was the first to mention a mancala game in Germany, the Ethiopian Gabata (1699).
After studying philology at the Erfurt academy and at Leiden, he travelled in order to increase his linguistic knowledge. While searching in Rome for some documents at the request of the Swedish Court (1649), he became acquainted with one Gregorius, a monk from the Ethiopian province of Amhara, and acquired from him an intimate knowledge of the Ethiopian language.
In 1652 he entered the service of the duke of Saxe-Gotha, in which he continued until 1678, when he retired to Frankfurt-am-Main. In 1683 he visited England to promote a cherished scheme for establishing trade with Ethiopia, but his efforts were unsuccessful, chiefly through the resistance of the authorities of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Returning to Frankfort in 1684, he gave himself wholly to literary work, which he continued almost to his death. In 1690 he was appointed president of the Collegium Imperiale Historicum.
The works of Ludolf, who is said to have been acquainted with twenty-five languages, include Sciagraphia historiae aethiopicae (Jena, 1676); and the Historia aethiopica (Frankfort, 1681), which has been translated into English, French and Dutch, and which was supplemented by a Commentarius (1691) and by Appendices (1693-1694). According to Ullendorff, Ludolf's
- Ethiopic and Amharic dictionaries and grammars were of importance far transcending his own time and remained, for well over a century and a half, the indispensable tools for the study of these languages, while his monumental history of Ethiopia (with an extensive commentary) can still be read with profit as well as enjoyment.
Among his other works are:
- Grammatica linguae amharicae (Frankfort, 1698)
- Lexicon amharico-latinum (Frankfort, 1698)
- Lexicon aethiopico-latinum (Frankfort, 1699)
- Grammatica aethiopica (London, 1661, and Frankfort, 1702)
- Christian Juncker, Commentarius de vita et scriptis Jobi Ludolfi (Frankfort, 1710)
- Ludwig Diestel, Geschichte des alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche (Jena, 1868)
- J. Flemming, "Hiob Ludolf," in the Beiträge zur Assyriologie (Leipzig, 1890-1891)
- John T. Waterman (1978), Leibniz and Ludolf on Things Linguistic: Excerpts from Their Correspondence (1688-1703). translated and edited with commentary and notes. Berkeley: University of California Publications in Linguistics 88.
- Bibography and Bibliography of Hiob Ludolf (in German) in Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon website.
- Pictures from a supplementary volume to Ludolf's Historia Aethiopica in Early Printed Books at St. John's College Library website.
- Psalterium Davidis aethiopice et latine at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML).
- Hiob Ludolf in die Erfurt-Enzyklopädie website.
- Nouvelle histoire d'Abyssinie ou d'Ethiopie tirée de l'histoire latine -- a French translation of Ludolf's Historia aethiopica (Paris 1684) in Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (PDF).