Schuerer, Emil°

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SCHUERER, EMIL ° (1844–1910), leading Protestant New Testament scholar. Born in Augsburg, Germany, the son of a merchant, Schürer studied theology at the universities of Erlangen, Berlin, and Heidelberg. In Heidelberg he was particularly influenced by Richard Rothe. He received his doctorate at Leipzig in 1868 and taught at the universities of Giessen (from 1878), Kiel (from 1890), and Göttingen (from 1895), where among his colleagues he counted Willamowitz-Möllendorf and Julius Wellhausen. Two achievements of his many-sided scholarship are especially noteworthy: his founding in Leipzig in 1876 of the Theologische Literaturzeitung, which he published for many years, thereby wielding an enduring influence on the critico-historical research of his time; and, even more important, his Geschichte des juedischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi (Leipzig, 1901–09; index volume 1911). These were the third and fourth editions; the first appeared in 1874 under the title Lehrbuch der neutestamentlichen Zeitgeschichte, and the second (Leipzig, 1886–1900) also appeared in English under the title, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ (1885–91). In 1888 a partial translation appeared in Dutch. Another partial translation is A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, edited with an introduction by Naḥum N. Glatzer (New York, 1961, 1963).

Schuerer's historiographic concept evolves from a thesis which he formulated in the introduction as follows: "There is not one detail in evangelic history, not one word in Jesus' message, which can be understood without a knowledge of Jewish history and of the Jewish people's world of ideas." An elucidation of New Testament history can therefore in particular be expected from research into post-biblical Judaism of this era. Schuerer's achievement thus differs from that of all his predecessors by excluding from his study the non-Jewish ancient world and, simultaneously, by aspiring to make critical use as comprehensively as possible of all available sources (literary texts, inscriptions, papyri, coins), together with almost all of the so-called secondary literature. That his historical review commenced not with the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey, but with the Maccabean revolt – because it was here that he detected the origins of later developments in the Jewish people's internal history – also constituted a new approach. Schuerer's encyclopedic work, dry and without stylistic pretensions, does not attempt to put forward daring hypotheses or even historico-theological interpretations. Occasionally, he seems to show a cool reserve with regard to the material, which, in his presentation of the Jewish religion, leads to a conspicuous narrowing of his horizon, as he restricts himself to dealing only with the messianic expectation and with the external fulfillment of the Law. This reserve approaches unconcealed hostility in the chapter "Das Leben unter dem Gesetz" (ii, 464–96) in which he deals with the legalistic side of Jewish piety, taking the point of view of the New Testament.

By the 1960s the need was felt for a thorough revision and updating of what was by then considered a minor classic. The new English edition was organized by the late Matthew Black (1908–1994) of the University of St. Andrews, and carried out by three Oxford scholars, Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Martin Goodman, with the late Pamela Vermes as literary editor, under the title The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ in three volumes (1973, 1979, 1986/87). The editors resolved not to mark additions, corrections, and deletions in the text, but to revise it directly, introducing four types of change: (a) the removal of out-of-date items of bibliography and purely polemical material; (b) the revision of the bibliographies; (c) the correction and modernization of the references to, and quotation of, literary texts, papyri, inscriptions and coin legends in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic; and (d) above all, the addition of relevant new archaeological, epigraphic, papyrological and numismatic material. This has meant the introduction not only of fresh data of a type already known to Schuerer, but also of wholly new areas of evidence, such as the Babylonian tablets relative to Seleucid chronology, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Bar Kokhba documents.

The revised work has preserved as much as possible of the original Schuerer and has offered a substantially updated compendium for research for the use of late 20th and early 21st-century historians of Judaism in the age of Jesus. The new English Schuerer has subsequently been translated into Spanish (Historia del pueblo judio en tiempos de Jesus, 1985) and into Italian (Storia del popolo giudaico al tempo de Gesù Cristo, 1985–99).


A. Harnack, in: Theologische Literaturzeitung, 35 (1910), 289–92; A.B. Titius, Realenzyklopaedie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche. 24 (1913), 460–46 (with bibliography); G.F. Moore, in: htr, 14 (1921), 237–41; E. Bammel, in: Deutsches Pfarrerblatt, 60 (1960), 225–26. add. bibliography: M. Hengel, "Der alte und der neue Schuerer," in: jss, 35 (1990), 19–72; A. Oppenheimer (ed.), Juedische Geschichte in hellenistisch-roemischer ZeitWege der Forschung: Vom alten zum neuen Schuerer (1999).

[Heinz Schreckenberg /

Geza Vermes (2nd ed.)]