Sellin, Ernst°

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SELLIN, ERNST ° (1876–1946), German Bible scholar and archaeologist. Sellin was professor of evangelical theology at various universities. In the field of Bible research, he published Einleitung in das Alte Testament (1900, 19508) in which he emphasized the literary critical method. His book on the prophets, Der aelteste Prophetismus (1912), contains studies on the history of prophecy, the messianic age, and a comparison of the appearance of God in the Bible and the signs of divinity among pre-Hebrew peoples. He also wrote books on Job (1919), Moses (1922), and a commentary on the minor prophets – Das Zwoelfprophetenbuch (1922, 1929–302–3). In his introduction to this commentary (p. 8), he sharply attacked Bible criticism of the previous 50 years. Sellin claimed that whatever exponents of that school could not reconcile with their theory they rejected as meaningless additions and, therefore, their approach to the prophetic literature was basically unsound. He also edited a series of 13 volumes of Bible commentaries, Kommentar zum Alten Testament, the first of which appeared in 1913. He published studies of the religious background of the biblical period, Beitraege zur israelitischen und juedischen Religionsgeschichte (2 vols., 1896–97).

In a history of Israel in the biblical period (Geschichte des israelitisch-juedischen Volkes, 2 vols., 1924–32), Sellin points out the relation between Israel's geographic position and the history of its community life. He differentiated between legends and history and emphasized the importance of religion, which he regarded as a decisive fact in the development of Jewish history. Sellin also made important contributions to archaeology. He conducted excavations at Tell-Ta'annek, Jericho (1907–08), and Shechem (1913–14) and published reports of his work. Although his methods are outdated, his discoveries at these sites are of great value.


ks, 1 (1924), 254–5; 35 (1960), 182; E. Sellin, Einleitung in das Alte Testament, ed. by L. Rost (19599), preface.

[Yehuda Komlosh]