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Guthe, Hermann°


GUTHE, HERMANN ° (1849–1936), German Old Testament scholar and researcher of Palestine. Born in May 1849 in Westerlinde (Braunschweig), he conducted his gymnasium studies at Wolffenbuettel, with theology studies between 1867 and 1870 at the universities of Goettingen and Erlangen. First working as a tutor, in 1877 he began his academic teaching at Leipzig, where he lived until his death. He served as the professor for Old Testament at the university from 1884 until his retirement in 1922.

Guthe was one of the most important and influential figures within German Palestine studies for more than 50 years. In 1877 he was one of the founders of the Deutscher Verein zur Erforschung Palaestinas (dpv), together with Albert Socin, Emil Kautzsch, Otto Kersten, and Conrad Fuerrer, serving from the beginning as its secretary and librarian. He was the founder and first editor of its periodical, the Zeitschrift des deutschen Palaestina-Vereins (zdpv), until 1896, when he started editing for ten more years the Society's second publication, the Mittheilungen und Nachrichten des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins. Always a member of the committee, he served between 1911 and 1925 as chairman. He was also responsible for recruiting some of the other prominent figures in the society, notably Peter Thomsen, a student of his who undertook the difficult bibliographical work.

Guthe gave the society its archaeological direction and he initiated most of its excavations. He visited Palestine three times, in 1881, 1904, and 1912, and there he made the acquaintance of the leading resident German scholars, Conrad Schick and Gottlieb Schumacher, recruiting them into the service of the Society. As a first step in a long partnership, Schick drew a map which was added to Guthe's first paper on Palestine dealing with the ruins of Ascalon, which was published in the first volume of the zdpv. On his first visit he participated in excavations, mainly those in the Ophel. The 1904 visit gave him the opportunity to observe the works in Megiddo and to visit Madaba and copy the mosaic map.

His studies dealt mainly with questions and places of antiquity, concerning historical, geographic-topographical, and archaeological themes. He also wrote highly critical book reviews. Many of his papers were devoted to the results of new research. He was also lucky to be a witness to the sensational discovery of the Siloam inscription and was the only one to prepare a gypsum (plaster?) cast and to make a good drawing of it before it was removed, broken, and then taken to Constantinople.

Guthe published a number of geographical books, among them Palaestina in Wort und Bild (with Georg Ebers, 1883) and a monograph titled Palaestina (1908). He was also involved in the production of many maps of the country, historical as well as recent, mainly with Hans Fischer, the cartographer of the Society. Many of his contributions described processes, events, organizations, etc., existing in the country at that time. He wrote exegeses on various books of the Bible, issued a biblical atlas, and cooperated with Kautzsch on a biblical dictionary.


For obituaries, see: A. Alt, "Hermann Guthe," in: zdpv, 59 (1936), 177–80; C. Steuernagel, "Ein Rueckblick auf 50 Jahre der zdpv," in: zdpv, 51 (1928), 1–4; P. Thomsen, "Dt. theol. et phil. Hermann Guthe zum 10. Mai 1919," in: zdpv, 42 (1919), 117–31; H. Bardtke, in: ndb, vol. 7, 343f.; F.W. Bautz, in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, 2 (1990).

[Haim Goren (2nd ed.)]

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