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De wette

W.M.L. de Wette (1780-1849)


Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849; Swiss)

·         One of the founders of modern biblical criticism.

·         Research on the Pentateuch important

o   Divided it into the Tetrateuch and Deuteronomy.

o   Genesis-Numbers should be understood as a collection of various fragments without any authentic historical material.

o   He saw Deuteronomy as the most recent book of the Pentateuch and as closely linked to Joshua.

·         Along with Vater, the first to use the term “Deuteronomic” to characterize the redactional texts of the historical books.

o   Argued that the law book mentioned in 2 Kgs 22-23 was Deuteronomy, or at least an early form of Deuteronomy (1805).

o   This idea wasn’t new, but what was new was his argument that Deuteronomy was composed put in the Temple as a propaganda document supporting the Josianic reform.

o   Therefore, Deuteronomy can’t be dated before Josiah (640-609 BCE).

·         To better understand the history of Israel, he compared Chronicles, which he dated c. 330 BCE, to Samuel-Kings, which he dated to c. 550 BCE.

o   He accounted the differences to ideology differences on the part of the Chroniclers.

·         For de Wette, Joshua was a late book, but permeated with Deuteronomic style and theology.

o   He was the first to find this Deuteronomic style and theology in the other historical books.


His most important of his works are (not all pertain to HB):

·         Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Alte Testament (2 vols, 1806–1807)

·         Kommentar über die Psalmen (1811), which has passed through several editions

·         Lehrbuch der hebräisch-jüdischen Archäologie (1814)

·         Über Religion und Theologie (1815); a work of great importance as showing its author's general theological position

·         Lehrbuch der christlichen Dogmatik (1813-1816)

·         Lehrbuch der historisch-kritischen Einleitung in die Bibel (1817)

·         Christliche Sittenlehre (1819–1821)

·         Einleitung in das Neue Testament (1826)

·         Religion, ihr Wesen, ihre Erscheinungsform, und ihr Einfluss auf das Leben (1827)

·         Das Wesen des christlichen Glaubens (1846)

·         Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch zum Neuen Testament (1836–1848).

·         De Wette also edited Luther's works (5 vols., 1825–1828)