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.

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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. Strawn for their helpful sug- gestions. In addition, Dorothy James of the B. Fisher Library at Asbury Theological Seminary provided valuable assistance.

Because of his many students and monumental publications, he has been called one of the founders of modern Assyriology. In the lectures that are the focus of our atten- tion, Delitzsch attempted to put the fledgling discipline of Assyriology on an equal footing with biblical studies and to champion Babylonian religion and culture over against that of the Hebrew Bible.

The high esteem in which Delitzsch was held and the distinguished circumstances of these lectures were nearly unprecedented. This constituted more than a watershed in the history of Assyriology and biblical studies. To a lesser degree, we will make reference to his subsequent work.

Mark W. Chavalas and K. Lawson Younger, Jr. In addition, we contend that the lectures expose other philosophical and theoretical presuppositions that are sometimes overlooked, and which illustrate further how Delitzsch mirrored his sociopolit- ical and cultural context. German Nationalism Delitzsch was a child of his time.

The nationalism that emerged in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was for the first time based on a feeling of community among a people of common descent, language, and reli- gion instead of dynastic ties in which citizens owed loyalty to church or ruling family. Whereas previous cultures had been concerned with clan, tribe, or vil- lage, now the nation-state became paramount as a means of realizing social, economic, and cultural aspirations.

Such nationalism ran rampant in the West- ern world during the nineteenth century, during which the great powers acquired colonial empires throughout the world, creating capital for industrialization. Germany had been a relative newcomer to European colonial expansion. Since unification under Otto von Bismarck in , Germany had experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth and had thrown itself full scale into the scramble among the European powers to colonize Africa and the Pacific.

Just before the turn of the century, however, Germany lagged behind its European rivals in ancient Near Eastern research. The Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London had by then acquired vast quantities of archaeolog- ical artifacts and texts from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, creating in Ger- scholarly publications. The international attention created a demand for copies of the lectures, which resulted in numerous editions, many of which incorporated revisions.

For thorough treat- ment of the literature, including exhaustive text-critical treatment of the lectures in all their edi- tions, see Lehmann, Friedrich Delitzsch, 80—91 lecture 1 , —84 lecture 2 , —56 lecture 3 , and his bibliographies pp. Parts of the Near East were seen as potential colonies for European powers, and it became a matter of national pride for Germany to assume its rightful place among the world pow- ers in archaeological research, as in all other endeavors.

But the fact remained that they were dependent on British and French source materials because Germany had no cuneiform collections. From his opening questions in lecture 1, we get a hint of the competition between nations for archaeological success.

Why all this toil and trouble in remote, inhospitable, and perilous lands? What is the purpose of going to such great expense to ransack through mounds that are many centuries old, digging all the way to the water table, all the while knowing there is no gold or silver to be found? Why this rivalry among the nations, in order to secure the greatest possible number of deso- late tells for excavation? And, on the other hand, what is the source of the ever-growing, self-sacrificing interest, which is now apparent on both sides of the Atlantic, in the excavations in Assyria and Babylonia?

It is the Bible that has led the nations into such rivalry and competition to secure as many desolate mounds for excavation as possible. Babylonia and the Bible—What has been said here displays only a small excerpt of the significance of the excavations in Assyria and Babylonia for the history and progress of humanity. May it help establish the recognition that it was high time for Germany to pitch her tent on the palm-crowned banks of the streams of Paradise!

The society is always inspired afresh by gratitude for the highest per- sonal patronage and warm interest, which His Majesty our King and Emperor has been pleased to bestow to its efforts in a lasting and gracious manner. In 11 The published form of the lecture was accompanied by a photograph of the dwelling of the German expedition in Babylon.

But this no longer stands up in the light of science, nor that of religion, nor ethics. In fact, among contemporaneous European scholars of the Hebrew Bible, Delitzsch stood in a long line of anti-Jewish predecessors. For a prime 14 Ibid. His reference is to Wilhelm Schwaner, ed. In essence, the religion of Judaism was the religion of Israel after it had died. Jewish scholars of the day were vocal in their opposition to such arguments, as is most notably evident in the well-known hyperbole of Solomon Schechter, when he equated higher criticism with higher anti-Semitism.

Interestingly, Lou H. Once the northern kingdom of Israel fell into the Neo-Assyrian provincial system in the late eighth century B.

Further, Delitzsch believed that the Babylonians were not purely Semitic, but included some Aryan stock. He averred that the Good Samaritan whom he called a Babylonian! The title refers to the Hebrew Bible, which he wanted to expose as an untruthful historical record in order to draw conclusions about 23 Delitzsch, Dritter Schluss- Vortrag, 3—4.

He expressed concern that the history of the Jewish people posed a threat to the future of the German people. It is obvious that such a people, which is deliberately landless or an interna- tional people, presents a great, a frightening danger for all other peoples of the earth.

He was from Galilee, and therefore a Babylonian who was not Semitic at all, but probably in part Aryan. He argued in , partly under the influence of Delitzsch, that Jesus was not only an Aryan, a non-Jew, but in fact an anti-Jew who opposed the message of the Hebrew Scriptures. But this would lead us into psychological motivations that we believe we are in no position to analyze. But this approach is impracticable in methodology and impossi- ble in its objectives. Many other examples could be garnered to illustrate how Delitzsch was a willing participant in the intense anti-Semitism of his day.

We retain it here because it has become the conventional standard among historians and logicians. He failed to present his culture with an alternate portrait of reality, and thereby he contributed to the historical and theological underpinnings of Nazism in the s and s. While the portrait of Nietzsche as an anti- Semite must be corrected in light of developments in Nietzschean scholarship over the last twenty years,44 no such correction is needed for Delitzsch.

Perhaps we should clarify immediately that we are not referring to his Lutheran heritage, which one might have expected given the sociocultural climate of his surroundings to lead to anti-Catholic elements in his research. Golomb; London: Routledge, ], 21— Baker and B. Arnold; Grand Rapids: Baker, , — While not wishing to minimize the difficul- ties of confessional Jewish and Christian scholars working together on the Hebrew Scriptures, we should state that so-called Christian supersessionism is not necessarily endemic to Christian faith contra Levenson, Hebrew Bible, 27 and passim.

First, early Israelite religion was natural and free from law as expressed by Yahwistic and Elohistic sources. Its cycles were related to the agricultural year, the priesthood was universal, and worship could take place anywhere. The priesthood became the right of the Levites, and central worship was demanded. Third, the Priestly source reflected a religion in which the festi- vals were fixed on precise days of the calendar year, and while other festivals were retained, an entirely new one, the Day of Atonement, took precedence.

The priesthood was limited to the descendants of Aaron, while all other Levites became lesser clerics. Sutherland Black and Allan Enzies, with preface by W. Reimer, New York: Summit Books, , 25—27; and on the problems of evolutionary thought as particularly prevalent in Delitzsch, see Jacob J.

But on the other hand, let us not blindly adhere to antiquated, scientifically disproved dogmas, even perhaps out of fear, lest our belief in God and gen- uine piety thereby suffer injury. We consider everything earthly as in an active state of flux; standing still is synonymous with death. We gaze there at the mighty, pulsating power, with which the German Reformation serves great nations of the earth in every aspect of human work and human progress!

However even the Reformation is only a stage upon the way to the goal of truth, which has been placed before us by God and in God. To that end we strive in humility, but with all the means of free scientific investigation, cheerfully declaring our allegiance to the further development of religion, which has been seen from the high watch-tower with eagle glance and pro- claimed as the lively slogan for the whole world.

The observations from ancient Mesopotamia discussed in the lectures will free humans from the vitiat- ing effects of the older Hebraic religion and make it possible to move beyond it to a higher expression of faith, one that presumably Delitzsch himself will artic- ulate with the help of Wilhelm II. We are more interested in the general impact of Idealism on Wellhausen, Delitzsch, and their colleagues in the late nineteenth century.

But we suggest it is also anti-Christian, as the reaction of the church to Harnack attests. First, one would be hard pressed to locate in primitive Christianity the concept that Christian faith is itself contributing to an ongoing evolutionary progression from primitive expressions of noble worship 52 Delitzsch, Zweiter Vortrag, 41; and see Friedrich Delitzsch, Babel and Bible: Two Lec- tures Delivered before the Members of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft in the Presence of the Ger- man Emperor ed.

In both, the danger lies in moving beyond the primitive, constitutional formulations of faith. Though both may be said to contain an Endzeit—an ideal eschatological culmi- nation of faith in the future—that Endzeit is something new while at the same time a returning rather than a surpassing of the Urzeit.

Christians of every gener- ation have confronted this question, sometimes with troubling results, while many consider it the central question of Christian theology. His father was Franz Julius Delitzsch — , who was appointed professor at Erlangen in and Leipzig in He was without doubt one of the most beloved and revered professors of the Hebrew Scriptures of his generation. Marcion taught that the God of Jesus was not the same as the God of the Hebrew Scriptures, and that in fact the God of the Hebrews should be rejected.

However, it was Marcion who was rejected by the church in Rome, beginning during his lifetime in the second century C. With the leadership of Irenaeus and Tertullian, the early church of the sec- ond and third centuries rose to the challenge, and with Augustine in the fourth century the issue was finally settled.

In his reply to critics of the second lecture, Delitzsch includes a passing mention of his father. As a result of having made such concessions, Franz was persecuted even while on his deathbed by the denunciations of church synods.

The father was the devout Lutheran scholar who made only slight adjustments to his critical positions during his career, while the son not only rejected the inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures but also denied their useful- ness and validity for contemporary Christians. One can hardly imagine greater distance between father and son who are both academics working in the same discipline, and this would not be the first time an academic has jettisoned con- fessional positions partly as a defense mechanism.

Delitzsch was a brilliant Assyriologist, one of the most distinguished scholars of the time. But beyond his philological accomplishments, he also left behind a legacy of uncritical political nationalism and questionable assumptions. In this light, Delitzsch stands as a singular reminder of the importance of the way in which we relate our research to our context. Related Papers.


Babel and Bible;

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.





Delitzsch, Friedrich





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