Delitzsch, Friedrich°

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DELITZSCH, FRIEDRICH ° (1850–1922), German Orientalist, son of Franz *Delitzsch. Delitzsch was the outstanding student of E. Schrader; he served as professor of Semitic languages and Assyriology in Leipzig (1877), in Breslau (1893), and from 1899 in Berlin. Delitzsch was among the founders of modern Assyriology. In addition to his purely Assyriological studies he investigated the Hebrew language in its relation to Akkadian and the Semitic languages in relation to the Indo-European languages in Studien ueber indogermanisch-semitische Wurzelverwandtschaft (1873), and Prolegomena eines neuen hebraeisch-aramaeischen Woerterbuchs zum Alten Testament (1886). Delitzsch also published in the field of Bible. His Die Leseund Schreibfehler im Alten Testament… (1920) is a valuable aid to textual criticism. More controversial are his comparative studies of Babylonian culture and the world of the Bible. Their motivation was not objectively scientific but blatantly antisemitic. In 1902, Delitzsch prepared a number of lectures on the topic "Babel and Bible" (Babel und Bibel, 1902–05; Eng. 1906), in which he claimed the absolute superiority of "Babylonia" over "Israel" and that the Bible, in and of itself, is devoid of religious and moral value. While his views were accepted by antisemites with joy, scholars and men of religion reacted sharply to the superficiality of his conclusions and to their evil intent. But Delitzsch, who was silenced for a while, repeated his claims after World War i, and this time in an open attack on the Hebrew Bible, Judaism, and the Jews in his book, Die grosse Taeuschung ("The Great Deception," 1921). His actions contributed not a little to the slogans of the antisemitic movements in Germany. The most important of the polemical works against Delitzsch is E. Koenig's work FriedrichDelitzsch's "Die grosse Taeuschung" kritisch beleuchtet (1921).


Lewin, in: W. Feilchenfeld Festschrift (1907), 47–65; H.J. Kraus, Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments (1956), 274–83; Price, in: Beitraege zur Assyriologie, 10 pt. 2 (1927), i–xii; Meissner, in: Deutsches biographisches Jahrbuch, 4 (1922), 31–35; Weissbach, in: Reallexikon der Assyriologie, 2 (1938), 198; Albright, in: ess, 5 (1953), 68–69. add. bibliography: H. Huffmon, dbi I, 267; R. Lehmann, Friedrich Delitzsch und der Babel-Bibel Streit (1994); B. Arnold and D. Weisberg, in: jbl, 121 (2002), 441–57.

[Abraham Arzi]