Sigmund Olaf Plytt Mowinckel
(born Aug. 4, 1884, Kjerringy, Nor.—died June 4, 1965, Oslo), Norwegian biblical scholar, founder of the Scandinavian school of Old Testament studies.
Educated at the University of Oslo (then Kristiania), Mowinckel spent his life from 1917 teaching there. His greatest contribution was in cultic-religious history. He conducted substantial research into the motivation for the psalms and in the practice of worship in ancient Israel. He wrote 6 vol. (1921–24; “Studies in the Psalms,” later popularized as 1962), one of the major works of biblical commentary of the 20th century. Depicting the psalms in their concrete cultural milieu, he emphasized the cultic nature of their origin and development.
From the 1920s onwards Mowinckel headed a school of thought on the Psalms which sometimes clashed with the Form Critical conclusions of Hermann Gunkel and those who followed in Gunkel's footsteps. Mowinckel's approach to the Psalms differed quite a bit from Gunkel's views based on the two names for ’God’ occuring in the Psalms (i.e. the ”Yahwist” and the ”Elohist”).
Mowinckel explained the psalms as wholly cultic both in origin and in intention. He attempted to relate more than 40 psalms to a hypothetical autumnal New Year festival.
In addition to his work on Psalms, his major monograph on the Old Testament roots of Messianism, He That Cometh: The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism, trans. G. W. Anderson (Oxford: B.Blackwell, 1956) is still of significance.