1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hitzig, Ferdinand

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HITZIG, FERDINAND (1807-1875), German biblical critic, was born at Hauingen, Baden, where his father was a pastor, on the 23rd of June 1807. He studied theology at Heidelberg under H. E. G. Paulus, at Halle under Wilhelm Gesenius and at Göttingen under Ewald. Returning to Heidelberg he became Privatdozent in theology in 1829, and in 1831 published his Begriff der Kritik am Alten Testamente praktisch erörtert, a study of Old Testament criticism in which he explained the critical principles of the grammatico-historical school, and his Des Propheten Jonas Orakel über Moab, an exposition of the 15th and 16th chapters of the book of Isaiah attributed by him to the prophet Jonah mentioned in 2 Kings xiv. 25. In 1833 he was called to the university of Zürich as professor ordinarius of theology. His next work was a commentary on Isaiah with a translation (Übersetzung u. Auslegung des Propheten Jesajas), which he dedicated to Heinrich Ewald, and which Hermann Hupfeld (1796-1866), well known as a commentator on the Psalms (1855-1861), pronounced to be his best exegetical work. At Zürich he laboured for a period of twenty-eight years, during which, besides commentaries on The Psalms (1835-1836; 2nd ed., 1863-1865), The Minor Prophets (1838; 3rd ed., 1863), Jeremiah (1841; 2nd ed., 1866), Ezekiel (1847), Daniel (1850), Ecclesiastes (1847), Canticles (1855), and Proverbs (1858), he published a monograph, Über Johannes Markus u. seine Schriften (1843), in which he maintained the chronological priority of the second gospel, and sought to prove that the Apocalypse was written by the same author. He also published various treatises of archaeological interest, of which the most important are Die Erfindung des Alphabets (1840), Urgeschichte u. Mythologie der Philistäer (1845), and Die Grabschrift des Eschmunezar(1855). After the death of Friedrich Umbreit (1795-1860), one of the founders of the well-known Studien und Kritiken, he was called in 1861 to succeed him as professor of theology at Heidelberg. Here he wrote his Geschichte des Volkes Israel (1869-1870), in two parts, extending respectively to the end of the Persian domination and to the fall of Masada, A.D. 72, as well as a work on the Pauline epistles, Zur Kritik Paulinischer Briefe (1870), on the Moabite Stone, Die Inschrift des Mescha (1870), and on Assyrian, Sprache u. Sprachen Assyriens (1871), besides revising the commentary on Job by Ludwig Hirzel (1801-1841), which was first published in 1839. He was also a contributor to the Monatsschrift des wissenschaftlichen Vereins in Zürich, the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, the Theologische Studien u. Kritiken, Eduard Zeller’s Theologische Jahrbücher, and Adolf Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie. Hitzig died at Heidelberg on the 22nd of January 1875. As a Hebrew philologist he holds high rank; and as a constructive critic he is remarkable for acuteness and sagacity. As a historian, however, some of his speculations have been considered fanciful. “He places the cradle of the Israelites in the south of Arabia, and, like many other critics, makes the historical times begin only with Moses” (F. Lichtenberger, History of German Theology, p. 569).

His lectures on biblical theology (Vorlesungen über biblische Theologie u. messianische Weissagungen) were published in 1880 after his death, along with a portrait and biographical sketch by his pupil, J. J. Kneucker (b. 1840), professor of theology at Heidelberg. See Heinrich Steiner, Ferdinand Hitzig (1882); and Adolf Kamphausen’s article in Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie.