Bill T. The authors hereby acknowledge the assistance of a number of people. Professor Weisberg expresses gratitude to Blake Hearson and Daniel Watson for research assistance, and to Batya Kaplan, head librarian of the Hebrew Union College Library in Jerusalem, for her help with research materials. Stone, and Brent A.

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Both were men of extremely high linguistic ability, but in other respects they formed a striking contrast. The father was pious and conservative in theology, and although he was interested in Christian missions to the Jews, he was warmly appreciative of Judaism; the son became iconoclastic and contemptuous toward traditional doctrine and hostile to the entire dependence of Christianity upon Judaism.

The leading figure in the Assyriology of his time, Friedrich Delitzsch placed grammar and lexicography of the languages of ancient Mesopotamia on a sound and exact basis. In the area of biblical scholarship, his Die Lese- und Schreibfehler im Alten Testament provided an exhaustive classification of ways in which copying errors, such as writing one consonant in place of another, may have affected the text of the Hebrew Bible.

His main influence on religious studies came with the "Babel-Bible" controversy. Advances in Assyriology had already made a difference to scholarship but had hardly affected the general public.

In the past, the Bible had been considered the oldest book: it was believed to reach back to the beginnings of the world. Now Assyriology presented new knowledge, knowledge that went back to an epoch much earlier than that of which the Bible had known. The similarity between the Babylonian and the biblical worlds was enormous. But this meant that the Old Testament material was not unique and could not count as pure revelation.

The Babylonian material confirmed the antiquity of the biblical material but put in question its finality. In fact the Old Testament rose little above the religious and ethical level of Mesopotamian civilization. By relativizing the authority of many elements within the Bible, the new discoveries made room for a conception of religion that was more in accord with "reason.

In this light, what Delitzsch considered the limited, parochial, and sometimes immoral world of the Old Testament could not continue to have authority. These ideas met with a storm of opposition. The Old Testament was a collection of fragments which had some literary and cultural value but had no relevance for Christianity. Christianity had as close a relation to paganism, Delitzsch claimed, as it had to Judaism, and he emphasized to an almost hysterical degree the "defects," "inaccuracies," and "immoralities" of the Old Testament.

Delitzsch was facing real problems in the existence of common ground between the Bible and its antecedent religious environment and of religious differences between some strata of the Bible and others.

But the controversial stand he took was rooted more in modern ideological conflicts than in a dispassionate study of the ancient religions. As history of religion, his assessment of the data was intemperate, and his outbursts had the effect of retarding rather than advancing the cool assessment of the problems that Assyriological discovery had created for the relationship between Bible and religion.

New Sources Arnold, Bill T. Larsen, Mogens Trolle. New York , James Barr


Friedrich Delitzsch

External links Born in Erlangen , he studied in Leipzig and Berlin , gaining his habilitation in as a lecturer of Semitic languages and Assyriology in Leipzig. In he became a full professor at Leipzig, afterwards serving as a professor at the Universities of Breslau and Berlin Erlangen is a Middle Franconian city in Bavaria, Germany. The number of inhabitants exceeded the limit of , in , making Erlangen a major city.





Babel and Bible;


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