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Julius Wellhausen

1844-1918. German biblical critic. Born in Hameln, Westphalia, he studied at Göttingen, taught there for two years, then went as professor of OT to Greifswald (1872), where orthodox Lutherans were alarmed at the doubts he cast on the inspiration of Scripture; he resigned in 1882. He transferred to the teaching of oriental languages, first at Halle, then as professor at Marburg (1885) and Göttingen (1892). Building on the work of earlier scholars, he attracted widespread attention by suggesting that the basic document of the Pentateuch (“P”) was the youngest rather than the oldest element, and that the development of OT religion became clearer if the Pentateuch were viewed as a composite document. His History of Israel (1878; ET 1883) gave him a place in biblical studies comparable, it was said, to that of Darwin in biology. Wellhausen also contributed significantly to Islamic and NT studies.