Kittel, Rudolf°

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KITTEL, RUDOLF ° (1853–1929), German Bible scholar. Kittel taught Bible and theology at the universities of Tübingen (1879–81), Stuttgart (1881–88), Breslau (1888–98), and Leipzig (1898–1924). He was the father of the New Testament scholar Gerhard Kittel (1853–1929). Rudolph Kittel demonstrated antisemitic tendencies in private and popular expression, but these did not affect his scholarship. One of his closest aides in the preparation of Biblia Hebraica (see below) was Isser Kahn, an observant Lithuanian Jew. Kittel considered himself a follower of the *Wellhausen School but departed from its teachings in various aspects. In his monographs on biblical history and religion Kittel helped establish the importance of supplementing the results of internal criticism with extra-biblical evidence. In his Geschichte des Volkes Israel (3 vols., 1922–28), a second edition of Geschichte der Hebräer (2 vols., 1888–92; A History of the Hebrews, 2 vols., 1895–96), he stated that Israel's unique religious expression resulted from the tension between a strict Yahweh oriented minority fashioned by Moses and a Yahweh cult assimilated to the Baal worship of the Canaanites and supported by the mass of the people who were unable to grasp the full implications of the Sinaitic covenant. The Mosaic religion was kept alive in certain circles until it became the official national expression through the triumphant teachings of the prophets.

Kittel published commentaries on Kings (1902), Chronicles (1902), Psalms (1929), and Isaiah 1–39 (with A. Dillman, 1898). He wrote on the contributions of the Hellenistic mystery religions to Hebrew wisdom literature (1924), on warfare in biblical times (1918), and on biblical theology (1899). He also edited Beitraege zur Wissenschaft vom Alten [und Neuen] Testament from 1908 to 1920. He is remembered as the originator of the Biblia Hebraica, a work which presents the Masoretic Text of the Bible along with the variants of the versions and other manuscripts; it has become a classic text book used in seminaries and universities. First and second editions of the Biblia Hebraica (1905–06 and 1912) provide the textus receptus of *Jacob ben Ḥayyim ibn Adonijah's edition of 1525–26 in the Second Rabbinical Bible. The third edition of Biblia Hebraica, published posthumously in 1937 and edited together with P. *Kahle, is based upon the older and more reliable Ben Asher codex of Leningrad. This was followed by the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1967–77). The Biblia Hebraica Quinta has begun to appear under the auspices of the Deutsche Bibelgesellschat (2004ff).


Hempel, in: zdmg, 84 (1930), 78–93; T. Fritsch, Der Streit um Gott und Talmud… (1922), 27–41; P.E. Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (19592), 131–8; H.F. Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern Research (1956), 103–9; E. Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (1957), passim; Alttestamentliche Studien, Rudolph Kittel zum 60. Geburtstag dargebracht (1913). add. bibliography: C. Begg, in: dbi, 2:30; H. Wasserman, in: Modern Judaism, 22 (2002), 92.

[Zev Garber /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]