Eissfeldt, Otto°

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EISSFELDT, OTTO° (1887–1973), German Lutheran Bible scholar. From 1913 to 1921 he was privatdocent in Berlin, and from 1921, professor in Halle (Saale). In his two principal fields, literary criticism and the history of religion, he was decisively influenced by his teachers Smend, with whom he studied at Goettingen, and Baudissin, who taught him in Berlin. (At Goettingen he studied with Wellhausen as well.) Following Smend, Eissfeldt postulated instead of Wellhausen's oldest Hexateuch source, j, two originally independent sources, j1 and j2, or l (Lay source) and j, and also the continuation of the Hexateuch sources beyond Joshua (Hexateuch-Synopse, 1922; Die Quellen des Richterbuches, "The Sources of the Book of Judges," 1925; Die aeltesten Traditionen Israels, 1950; Die Genesis der Genesis, 1958). His comprehensive Einleitung in das Alte Testament (1934, 19643; Eng. trans., The Old Testament, An Introduction, 1965) strives to preserve the heritage of Gunkel, being concerned with the smallest preliterary units and their "Situation in Life" (Sitz im Leben). Eissfeldt's inaugural lecture "Jahwe and Baal" given in Berlin (1914) prefigured the development of his work in the history of religion, which, to begin with, followed in the footsteps of Baudissin (the publication of his Kyrios, 1929); he concerned himself with numerous problems and figures in the Canaanite-Phoenician religion (Der Gott Bethel, 1930; Der Gott Thabor, 1934; Molkals Opferbegriff im Punischen und Hebraeischen ("Molek as a Sacrificial Term in Hebrew and Punic"), 1935; Der Gott Karmel, 1953), and after the discoveries at Ras Shamra the specific study of their Ugaritic manifestations (Ras Schamra und Sanchun aton, 1939; El im ugaritischen Pantheon, 1951). His chief aim was to arrive at a better understanding of the religion of the Israelites (Ba'alsamen und Jahwe, 1939; Jahwe Zebaoth, 1950; El and Yahwe, 1956; Adonis und Adona, 1970). He edited the Handbuch zum Alten Testament and, together with A. Alt, the third edition of R. Kittel's Biblia Hebraica. Many of his shorter articles were collected in Kleine Schriften (5 vols., 1962ff.).

add. bibliography:

G. Wallis, db, 1, 327.

[Rudolf Smend]