Eichhorn, Johann Gottfried°

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EICHHORN, JOHANN GOTTFRIED ° (1752–1827), German historian and biblical scholar. Eichhorn was professor of Oriental languages at Jena (1775–87) and of philosophy at Goettingen (1788–1827), where he succeeded his teacher, J.D. *Michaelis. He was one of the pioneers in the modern study of the Bible. He shares the credit with G. *Herder for freeing biblical studies from the shackles of church dogma and making biblical literature accessible to a wider public. Some of his work attempts to explain biblical myth naturalistically. In his Einleitung in das Alte Testament (3 vols., 1780–83; a partial translation: Introduction to the Study of the Old Testament, 1888), which ran into four editions (the 4th edition including 5 vols., 1820–24) and several reprints, he summed up the results of research in the field of biblical literature up to his day and endeavored to give a just appreciation of the poetic and religious elements in the Hebrew Bible. This was the first introduction to the Bible to be written, and through its vivid style and wide scholarship made a deep impression upon the scholarly world. Eichhorn's Einleitung exerted great influence on the biblical studies of Moses *Mendelssohn and his fellow commentators, especially *Ben-Ze'ev. Eichhorn also wrote an introduction to the Apocrypha (Einleitung in die apokryphischen Schriften des Alten Testament, 1795) as well as translations of Job and the prophetical books of the Bible (Die hebraeischen Propheten, 3 vols., 1816–19). He edited Re pertorium fuer biblische und morgenlaendische Litteratur (18 vols., 1777–86) and Allgemeine Bibliothek der biblisehen Lite ratur (10 vols., 1787–1801).


T.K. Cheyne, Founders of Old Testament Criticism (1893), 21–26; H.J. Kraus, Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments (1956), 120–40; ADB, 5 (1877), 731–7. add. bibliography: J. Rogerson, in: dbi, 324.

[Moshe Zevi (Moses Hirsch) Segal]