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Johann David Michaelis
1717-1791. Protestant Orientalist and biblical critic. He was professor of philosophy (1746-50) and oriental languages (1750-91) at the University of Göttingen. A prolific writer, he authored an entire journal (Orientalische und exegetische Bibliothek, 1771-91) as well as important studies in Hebrew lexicography and Aramaic and Syriac grammar. His multivolumed study of the Mosiac Law (1770-75; ET 1814) was very influential in the early days of biblical criticism in Germany, as were his other critical and exegetical writings on the OT (Messianic Psalms, 1759; Ecclesiastes, 1762; 1 Maccabbees, 1776). In a serialized translation of the Bible with annotations (OT, 1769-83; NT 1790-92) he introduced the educated German layman to the results of contemporary criticism. His Introduction to the (1750; ET 1793-1801) laid the foundation for further works of similar nature; he was also author of an Introduction to the (1787, incomplete).