Julius Wellhausen

a German biblical scholar and orientalist, noted particularly for his contribution to scholarly understanding of the origin of the Pentateuch/Torah (the first five books of the Bible). He is credited with being one of the originators of the documentary hypothesis.Born at Hamelin in the Kingdom of Hanover, the son of a Protestant pastor, he studied theology at the University of Göttingen under Georg Heinrich August Ewald and became Privatdozent for Old Testament history there in 1870. In 1872 he was appointed professor ordinarius of theology at the University of Greifswald. He resigned from the faculty in 1882 for reasons of conscience, stating in his letter of resignation:"I became a theologian because the scientific treatment of the Bible interested me; only gradually did I come to understand that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing the students for service in the Protestant Church, and that I am not adequate to this practical task, but that instead despite all caution on my own part I make my hearers unfit for their office. Since then my theological professorship has been weighing heavily on my conscience."He became professor extraordinarius of oriental languages in the faculty of philology at Halle, was elected professor ordinarius at Marburg in 1885, and was transferred to Göttingen in 1892 where he stayed until his death.He is best known for his Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Prolegomena to the History of Israel), a detailed synthesis of existing views on the origins of the first six books of the Old Testament: Wellhausen's contribution was to place the development of these books into a historical and social context. The resulting argument, called the documentary hypothesis, remained the dominant model among biblical scholars until later in the 20th century.


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