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Julius Wellhausen

julius wellhausen, julius wellhausen documentary hypothesis
Julius Wellhausen 17 May 1844 – 7 January 1918, was a German biblical scholar and orientalist In the course of his career, he moved from Old Testament research through Islamic studies to New Testament scholarship Wellhausen contributed to the composition history of the Pentateuch/Torah and the formative period of Islam For the former, he is credited with being one of the originators of the documentary hypothesis12


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels and documentary hypothesis
  • 3 Other works
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Wellhausen was born at Hameln in the Kingdom of Hanover, the son of a Protestant pastor3 He later studied theology at the University of Göttingen under Georg Heinrich August Ewald and became privatdozent for Old Testament history there in 1870 In 1872 he was appointed professor ordinarius of theology at the University of Greifswald However, he resigned from the faculty in 1882 for reasons of conscience, stating in his letter of resignation:

I became a theologian because the scientific treatment of the Bible interested me; only gradually did I come to understand that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing the students for service in the Protestant Church, and that I am not adequate to this practical task, but that instead despite all caution on my own part I make my hearers unfit for their office Since then my theological professorship has been weighing heavily on my conscience4

He became professor extraordinarius of oriental languages in the faculty of philology at Halle, was elected professor ordinarius at Marburg in 1885, and was transferred to Göttingen in 1892 where he stayed until his death

Among theologians and biblical scholars, he is best known for his book, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels Prolegomena to the History of Israel After a detailed synthesis of existing views on the origins of the first five books of the Old Testament, Wellhausen's contribution was to place the development of these books into a historical and social context The resulting argument, called the documentary hypothesis, remains the dominant model among biblical scholars In the realm of Arabic studies, Wellhausen's greatest achievement remains The Arab Kingdom And Its Fall

Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels and documentary hypothesisedit

Main articles: Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels and Documentary hypothesis

Wellhausen was famous for his critical investigations into Old Testament history and the composition of the Hexateuch He is perhaps best known for his Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels of 1883 first published 1878 as Geschichte Israels, in which he advanced a definitive formulation of the documentary hypothesis, arguing that the Torah or Pentateuch had its origins in a redaction of four originally independent texts dating from several centuries after the time of Moses, their traditional author

Wellhausen's hypothesis remained the dominant model for Pentateuchal studies until the last quarter of the 20th century, when it began to be challenged by other Biblical scholars who saw more and more hands at work in the Torah, ascribing them to periods even later than Wellhausen had proposed

Other worksedit

A select list of his works are as follows:

  • De gentibus et familiis Judaeis Göttingen, 1870
  • Der Text der Bücher Samuelis untersucht Göttingen, 1871
  • Die Phariseer und Sadducäer, a classic treatise upon this subject Greifswald, 1874
  • Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels Berlin, 1882; 3rd ed, 1886; Eng trans, Edinburgh, 1883, 1891; 5th German edition, 1899; first published in 1878 as Geschichte Israels; English translation Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel, Forgotten Books, 2008, ISBN 978-1-60620-205-0 Also available on Project Gutenberg 1
  • Muhammed in Medina, a translation of Al-Waqidi Berlin, 1882
  • Die Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bücher des Alten Testaments 1876/77, 3rd ed 1899
  • Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte 1894, 4th ed 1901
  • Reste arabischen Heidentums 1897
  • Das arabische Reich und sein Sturz, in its time the standard modern account of Umayyad history 1902, English translation The Arab Kingdom and its Fall 19275
  • Skizzen und Vorarbeiten 1884–1899
  • Medina vor dem Islam 1889
  • New and revised editions of Friedrich Bleek's Einleitung in das Alte Testament 4–6, 1878–1893
  • Die kleinen Propheten, a critical brochure 1902
  • “The Book of Psalms” in Sacred Books of the Old Testament Leipzig, 1895; Eng trans, 1898

In 1906 appeared Die christliche Religion, mit Einschluss der israelitisch-jüdischen Religion, in collaboration with A Jülicher, Adolf Harnack and others He also produced less influential work as a New Testament commentator, publishing Das Evangelium Marci, übersetzt und erklärt in 1903, Das Evangelium Matthäi and Das Evangelium Lucae in 1904, and Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien in 1905


  1. ^ http://wwwaishdasorg/toratemet/en_cardozohtml
  2. ^ http://wwwleaderucom/orgs/probe/docs/moseshtml
  3. ^ Clements, RE A Century of Old Testament Study Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1994, 7
  4. ^ Cited in Robert J Oden Jr,"The Bible Without Theology", Harper and Row, 1987, ISBN 0-252-06870-X
  5. ^ Hawting, GR 2000, The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661–750 2nd Edition, Routledge, p xxi, ISBN 0-415-24072-7 


  •  Gilman, D C; Thurston, H T; Colby, F M, eds 1905 "Wellhausen, Julius" New International Encyclopedia 1st ed New York: Dodd, Mead 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1911 "Wellhausen, Julius" Encyclopædia Britannica 11th ed Cambridge University Press 

External linksedit

  • Works by Julius Wellhausen at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Julius Wellhausen at Internet Archive

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