Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849)

De wette

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

De Wette is considered to be one of the founders of modern biblical criticism. His research on the Pentateuch was important, as he recognized the different authorship of Deuteronomy. Along with J. Vater, he was the first to use the term “Deuteronomic” to characterize the redactional texts of the historical books. For de Wette, Joshua was a late book, but permeated with Deuteronomic style and theology. He was the first to find this Deuteronomic style and theology in the other historical books.He argued that the law book mentioned in 2 Kgs 22-23 was Deuteronomy, or at least an early form of Deuteronomy (1805). 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, and so can’t be dated before Josiah. In his work on Chronicles, he argued against the view of Israelite religion found within it that Moses founded a complex cultic religion, arguing instead that the Israelite cult had developed gradually from simply origins. This argument can be found in his Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Alte Testament (2 vols, 1806–1807), considered to be his most important work.