Erich Zenger

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Erich Zenger (born July 5, 1939 in Dollnstein ; † April 4, 2010 in Münster ) was a German Roman Catholic theologian and university professor. He is considered one of the most important Old Testament biblical scholars of his time. He made particular contributions to the Christian-Jewish dialogue . Zenger stood out primarily through his work on the book of psalms . His introduction to the Old Testament is considered a standard work in biblical studies.


From 1958 Erich Zenger studied philosophy (1961: Lic. Phil.), Theology (1965: Lic. Theol .; 1971: Dr. theol.) And Oriental Studies in Rome , Jerusalem , Heidelberg , Münster and Würzburg . In 1964, Zenger was ordained a priest in Rome. In 1968 he became a research assistant at the University of Münster , and from 1970 in Würzburg.

In 1971 Zenger was offered a professorship for Old Testament Studies at the University of Eichstätt , and from 1973 to 2004 he taught at the University of Münster. In 1982 he turned down an offer at the University of Freiburg . He has received several visiting professorships at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem. In 1994 he was visiting professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin . Zenger gave guest lectures and lectures at universities in Berlin, Bochum, Bonn, Brixen, Dublin, Eichstätt, Essen, Frankfurt, Freiburg i. Ü., Göttingen, Graz, Greifswald, Heidelberg, Jerusalem, Innsbruck, Kassel, Lausanne, Linz, Marburg, Munich, Paderborn, Passau, Regensburg, Salzburg, Sheffield, Tübingen, Vienna and Würzburg. He gave the farewell lecture before his retirement on July 14, 2004.

From 1976 Zenger was a member of the discussion group "Jews and Christians" at the Central Committee of German Catholics , from 1994 member of the working group "Questions of Judaism" of the German Bishops' Conference . From 1988 to 1991 Zenger was chairman of the working group of German-speaking Catholic Old Testament scholars.

At the seminar for Catholic theology at the Free University of Berlin , a research project funded by the DFG deals with Zenger's work with regard to biblical hermeneutics after the Shoah in the context of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

honors and awards



  • The Sinai theophany . Investigations on the Yahwist and Elohistic historical work (fzb 3), Würzburg 1971
  • Bible preached. Opening words, prayers, sermons, intercessions, Würzburg 1971 (together with F.-J. Ortkemper)
  • A basic text of biblical experience of God Ex 3–4: Methodical interpretation (theology in the correspondence course advanced course Lb 5), Würzburg 1973
  • Exodus . Stories and history of the liberation of Israel (SBS 75), Stuttgart 1975, 2nd edition 1979 (together with P. Weimar)
  • Study letter "Old Testament" (distance learning course for Catholic religious education DIFF), Tübingen 1975
  • Crossed life. Reflection on Job , Freiburg 1976 (together with R. Böswald)
  • Study letter "Hermeneutics I. Methods of interpretation of scriptures and dogmas" (distance learning course for Catholic religious education DIFF), Tübingen 1977 (together with Franz Joseph Schierse / J. Wohlmuth)
  • Das Buch Exodus (spiritual reading AT 7), Düsseldorf 1978, 3rd edition 1987 (translation into Korean: 1990)
  • The God of the Bible. A non-fiction book on the beginnings of the Old Testament belief in God, Stuttgart 1979, 3rd edition 1986 (translation into Italian: 1983; into Portuguese / Brazilian: 1989)
  • The book Judit (JSHRZ I / 6), Gütersloh 1981
  • Crossed life. Job , Hope for the Suffering (reissue). Freiburg 1981, 2nd edition 1982
  • Israel on Sinai . Analyzes and interpretations of Exodus 17–34. Altenberge 1982, 2nd edition 1985
  • God's bow in the clouds. Composition and theology of priestly written prehistory (SBS 112), Stuttgart 1983, 2nd edition 1987
  • The future of the world is also in our hands. Environmental protection in conflict of interests (materials for life science lessons . Material booklet on the topic of the month February 1984, published by the Catholic Military Bishop's Office Bonn), Bonn 1984
  • The Book of Ruth (Zürcher Bibelkommentare: AT; 8), Zurich 1986, 2nd edition, 1992, ISBN 3-290-14740-1
  • With my God I jump over walls. Introduction to the Psalms Book, Freiburg 1987, 4th edition 1993, ISBN 3-451-21094-0 ; Paperback edition: HB 8810, Freiburg 1994
  • It is delicious to eat from the tree. Pictures and texts on the Old Testament, Münster 1988 (together with B. Kösters)
  • The first testament. The Jewish Bible and the Christians, Düsseldorf 1991, 4th edition 1994 (translation into Italian: 1997, into Czech: 1999)
  • I want to wake the dawn Psalms interpretations, Freiburg 1991, 4th edition 1995; Paperback edition: HB 8811, Freiburg 1994
  • The Psalms I. Psalm 1-50 (NEB). Würzburg 1993 (together with Frank-Lothar Hossfeld )
  • At the foot of the Sinai. Images of God in the First Testament, Düsseldorf 1993, 2nd edition 1994 (translation into Czech: 1996)
  • A god of vengeance ? Understanding Feindpsalmen (Biblical Books 1), Freiburg 1994, 2nd edition 1998 (translation into English: 1996; translation into Italian 2005)
  • The God of Israel and the peoples. Studies on the Book of Isaiah and the Psalms (SBS 154), Stuttgart 1994 (together with N. Lohfink; translation into English: 2000)
  • Introduction to the Old Testament (Kohlhammer Studienbücher Theologie 1), Stuttgart 1995, 7th edition 2008 (together with G. Braulik et al .; translation into Portuguese / Brazilian: 2003, into Italian: 2005, into Korean, Russian, Spanish in preparation)
  • In the beginning , God created. Biblical Creation Theologies , Düsseldorf 1997 (together with K. Löning; translation into English: 2000)
  • The night will shine like the day. Interpretations of the Psalms, Freiburg 1997 (new edition: With my God I skip walls. I want to wake the dawn), ISBN 3-451-26379-3
  • I'm looking for your face. New interpretations of the psalms, Freiburg 1998
  • The Psalms II. Psalm 51-100 (NEB) 40, Würzburg 2002 (together with F.-L. Hossfeld)
  • Psalms 51-100 ( HThKAT ). Freiburg 2000, 3rd edition 2007 (together with F.-L. Hossfeld), 728 pages, ISBN 3-451-26826-4 (translation into English 2005)
  • Stuttgart Old Testament, Stuttgart 2004
  • Stuttgart Psalter, Stuttgart 2005
  • Psalms. Interpretations 1-4. Freiburg 2008 (2003), ISBN 3-451-27615-1 (therein: Vol. 1: With my God I jump over walls. Vol. 2: I want to wake the dawn. Vol. 3: I am looking for your face. Vol. 4 : A god of vengeance? Understand enemy psalms.)
  • Psalms 101-150 (HThKAT). Freiburg 2008 (together with F.-L. Hossfeld), ISBN 3-451-26827-2
  • Frank-Lothar Hossfeld, Erich Zenger: Incline your ear to the words of my mouth. Studies on Psalms and Psalter . Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-460-33149-5


  • God of the living and the dead. Three speeches, Mainz 1976 (together with F.Kamphaus / JBMetz)
  • Herald of the Word. Contributions to the theology of the prophets . FS J.Schreiner, Würzburg 1982 (together with L.Ruppert / P.Weimar)
  • Dynamic in the word. Doctrine of the Bible, Life from the Bible, Stuttgart 1983 (together with J.Gnilka)
  • Tisa von der Schulenburg, Like the edges of a wound. Pictures of the lawsuit, Kevelaer 1983 (together with K. Richter)
  • Josef Schreiner : A blessing for the people. Collected writings on the origin and theology of the Old Testament. Wuerzburg 1987.
  • Teacher of justice. Studies on the Book of Wisdom (Erfurt theological writings 19) Leipzig 1990 (together with G.Hentschel)
  • The one god and the goddess. Concepts of God in biblical Israel in the horizon of feminist theology (QD 135), Freiburg 1991 (together with M.-Th. Wacker)
  • Israel and Church Today. Contributions to the Christian-Jewish dialogue. FS EL Ehrlich, Freiburg 1991 (together with M.Marcus / EWStegemann)
  • Josef Schreiner. Living according to God's direction. Collected writings on the genesis and theology of the Old Testament II, Würzburg 1992
  • The new covenant in the old. Studies on the Federal Theology of the Two Testaments (QD 146), Freiburg 1993
  • New ways of researching the psalms. FS W. Beyerlin (HBS 1), Freiburg 1994, 21995 (together with K. Seybold)
  • Torah and Canon . Studies on their significance in Judaism and Christianity (HBS 8), Freiburg 1995
  • Josef Schreiner. The one God of Israel. Collected writings on the theology of the Old Testament III, Würzburg 1997
  • Living world of the Bible. Journey of discovery into the Old Testament, Freiburg 1997
  • The Psalter in Judaism and Christianity (HBS 18), Freiburg 1998
  • The septuagintap age . Linguistic and theological aspects (HBS 32), Freiburg
  • “You are my son” (Ps 2: 7). Studies on the Royal Psalms (SBS 192), Stuttgart 2002 (together with E. Otto)
  • City of God and Garden of God. On the history and theology of the Jerusalem Temple (QD 191), Freiburg 2002 (together with O. Keel)
  • "Word of YHWH that happened ..." (Hos 11: 1). Studies on the Book of the Twelve Prophets (HBS 35), Freiburg 2002
  • Ritual and poetry. On the function of prayers and psalms in the ancient Orient, Judaism and Christianity (HBS 37), Freiburg 2003

(Co-) editor of series and magazines

Literature on Zenger

  • Georg Steins : A theological Old Testament scholar. Erich Zenger was a passionate Bible reader and mediator , in: Herder Korrespondenz 64 (2010), pp. 307-312
  • Paul Deselaers : A stroke of luck for theology and the church: Memories of Erich Zenger (1939–2010), in:, June 10, 2020.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Münster: Old Testament scholar Erich Zenger dead. In: April 5, 2010, accessed April 5, 2010 . .
  2. ^ The daily mail of April 7, 2010, p. 4.
  3. A Biblical Theology of the Judeo-Christian Convivence. Retrieved September 15, 2016 .
  4. Buber Rosenzweig Medal 2009 goes to the theologian Zenger from Münster. May 5, 2008, accessed May 5, 2008 .