Ilgen, Karl David°

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ILGEN, KARL DAVID ° (1763–1834), German Protestant classical philologist and Bible critic. Ilgen was rector of the Stadtschule in Naumburg from 1789 to 1794, professor in Jena from 1794 to 1802, and rector at Schulpforte from 1802 to 1830. He then resided in Berlin. His chief work is Die Urkunden des jerusalemischen Tempelarchivs in ihrer Urgestalt, als Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Geschichte der Religion und Politik (vol. 1, Urkunden des ersten Buchs von Mose; 1798, "The Documents of the Jerusalem Temple-Archive in Their Original Form as a Contribution to Correcting the History of Religion and Politics, vol. 1, Documents of the First Book of Moses"). Its aim is a history of ancient Israel, which can be attained only through a comprehensive critical treatment of the sources. (In this Ilgen's undertaking equals the contemporary work of B.G. Niebuhr on Roman history.) According to Ilgen, the Bible contains jumbled and distorted documents from the archives of the Temple, and it is the role of scholarship to restore and rearrange them. He numbered 17 fragmentary documents in Genesis which he related to three writers: Sofer Eliel ha-Rishon, Sofer Eliel ha-Sheni, and Sofer Elijah ha-Rishon. Their work had been combined by a redactor. Thus Ilgen modified the documentary hypothesis accepted by J.G. Eichhorn and others, according to which there were two documents in Genesis – one in which God's name is Elohim and the other in which it is yhwh – by asserting that there existed two Elohist documents. The possibility of a second "Jehovist" document remained an open question. This theory of three sources was accepted only after it was modified by H. Hupfeld in 1853. Ilgen's analysis of the Joseph story (Gen. 37–50) into two sources somewhat harmonized by a redactor was widely accepted.


H. Kaemmel, in: adb, 14 (1881), 19–23 (incl. bibl.). add. bibliography: J. Rogerson, in: dbi, 1, 537–38.

[Rudolf Smend /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]