Immanuel Benzinger

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Immanuel Gustav Adolf Benzinger (born February 21, 1865 in Stuttgart , † March 12, 1935 in Riga ) was a German Protestant theologian ( Old Testament scholar ) and orientalist .


Immanuel Benzinger was the son of the teacher Michael Benzinger (1823-1904), who was the rector of the Evangelical Daughter Institute in Stuttgart. After graduating from high school in Stuttgart, Immanuel Benzinger studied theology at the University of Tübingen from 1883 to 1888 . In 1888 he completed his studies with a licentiate and a doctorate to become Dr. phil. from and entered the vicariate in Stuttgart.

Since his studies Benzinger has been concerned with oriental history, especially with the archeology of Palestine . He was under the influence of the writings of Julius Wellhausen , who represented the positivist perspective. Benzinger also joined the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft and the German Palestine Association , in which he later held a leading position: from 1897 to 1902 he published the association's magazine, and from 1904 to 1912 he acted as secretary.

After the vicariate, Benzinger worked as a repeater at the Protestant theological seminar of the University of Tübingen. His scientific work received new impulses from the publishing house Karl Baedeker , who commissioned Benzinger to revise and update the travel guide to Palestine and Syria , written by the Swiss orientalist Albert Socin . The Baedeker travel guides were highly regarded in the historical and topographical world and were cited as specialist literature; therefore the assignment was of great importance for Benzinger's career. In the spring of 1890, financed by the Baedeker publishing house, he undertook a research trip through Palestine lasting several months. After his return, the third edition of the travel guide, which he had edited, was published in 1891. It gave Benzinger a great reputation in the professional world. Georg Wissowa , for example, called on the young researcher to work on the revision of Pauly's Real Encyclopedia of Classical Classical Studies , which was published by the JB Metzler publishing house in Stuttgart from 1893.

In the following years, Benzinger continued to earn his living as a repetitee in Tübingen. He dedicated his scientific work to the systematic book Hebrew Archeology , which appeared in the series Grundriss der Theologische Wissenschaften in 1894 and was welcomed by experts. Benzinger joined Wellhausen's positivist school in this work. In later arrangements (1907, 1927) he turned away from it and sided with Panbabylonism .

Despite his initial success, Benzinger's career made slow progress. From 1894 he worked as the parish priest of the Württemberg regional church in Neuenstadt am Kocher , which earned him a modest salary, but did little to promote his scientific work. An academic career opened up for him a few years later in Berlin , where he qualified as a professor in 1898 in Old Testament theology . During these years Benzinger's contributions to the Short Hand Commentar on the Old Testament (KHC-AT), which Karl Marti had published since 1897, appeared. Benzinger edited the Books of Kings (1899), the Book of Josua (1901, with Heinrich Holzinger) and the Books of Chronicles (1901) for the KHC .

In 1901 Benzinger resigned from the teaching staff at Berlin University and has since lived in Berlin as a private scholar. In 1902 he emigrated to Palestine and lived as a teacher in Jerusalem. Among other things, he taught at the schools of the Aid Association of German Jews . From 1906 he was also appointed Vice Consul of the Netherlands.

In 1912 Benzinger received a professorship for Classical Philology at the University of Toronto in Canada. Although he was best known for his research on the Old Testament and the history of Palestine, he had sufficient qualifications for an ancient philology professorship in Canada for the time (due to his excellent knowledge of the ancient languages). In 1915 he moved to Allegheny College in Meadville (Pennsylvania) .

In 1918 he returned to Germany and worked at the University Library in Tübingen . Although he was already at an advanced age, a high academic position opened up for him after the First World War : the University of Latvia in Riga appointed him in 1921 as professor of theology at its theological faculty, which had existed for a year. At that time, numerous German professors were working at the University of the Young Nation. In 1925 Benzinger received an honorary doctorate from the theological faculty of the University of Riga.

During his time in Riga, Benzinger played an inglorious role in the college. It hindered the career of the religious scholar Gustav Mensching , who was appointed in 1927 and only had a temporary professorship. Benzinger used his influence in the faculty to prevent the contract extension (which was voted on after three years). As a justification, he cited Mensching's lack of knowledge of Hebrew and lack of formal qualifications (Mensching only had a theological licentiate) and demanded that Mensching be awarded a doctorate as Dr. theol. must catch up. After a bureaucratic gauntlet run, Mensching achieved his doctorate in 1932 with a specially prepared qualification document.

Immanuel Benzinger died on March 12, 1935 at the age of 70, at a time when the Germans in Latvia were marginalized in many areas . So he did not experience the Russification of the university or the occupation of Latvia by the German Wehrmacht.


  • The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge . Volume 2 (1908), p. 56.
  • Encyclopaedia Judaica: Judaism in the past and present . Volume 4 (1932), p. 159.
  • The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia . Volume 2 (1940), p. 190.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzBenzinger, Immanuel Gustav Adolf. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 504.
  • Andris Vilks (Ed.): Enciklopēdiskā vārdnīca. Volume 1 (1991), p. 80.
  • German Biographical Encyclopedia (DBE). Volume 1 (1999), p. 432.
  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archeology in the Near East . Volume 1 (1999), p. 299.
  • Hamid Rena Yousefi, Ina Braun: Gustav Mensching, life and work. A research report on the concept of tolerance. Würzburg 2002, ISBN 3-8260-2233-5 . ( Building blocks for Mensching research 1)
  • Encyclopaedia Judaica. Second edition . Volume 3 (2007), p. 391.

Fonts (selection)

  • Palestine and Syria. Guide for travelers . Third edition, Leipzig: Baedeker 1891
  • Hebrew archeology . Freiburg 1894. Second completely revised edition, Freiburg 1907. Third revised edition, Freiburg 1927. Reprint Hildesheim 1973
  • The books of kings . Freiburg 1899 (KHC)
  • The books of the chronicle . Freiburg 1901 (KHC)
  • with Heinrich Holzinger: The book of Joshua. Freiburg 1901 (KHC)
  • History of Israel down to the Greek period . Leipzig 1904. Second, improved edition, Leipzig 1909. Third, improved edition, Berlin 1924
  • with Ludwig Frohnmeyer: Picture Atlas for Biblical Studies. A handbook for the religion teacher and Bible lover. Stuttgart 1905. Second edition, Stuttgart 1913

Web links

Wikisource: Immanuel Benzinger  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. The certificate of the state examination is in the state archive of Baden-Württemberg, inventory E 202, call number Bü 1148.
  2. Friedrich Giesebrecht : Göttingische learned advertisements . 156th year (1894), pp. 632–646. Karl Marti: Literarisches Centralblatt . 1894, col. 841-842. JC Matthes: Museum . 1894, col. 48-50. C. Siegfried: Theological literary newspaper . 1894, col. 203-205. B. Stade: German literary newspaper . 1894, col. 385-387. Wuilleumier: Revue critique de théologie et philosophie . 1894, pp. 281-284.
  3. ^ Chronicle of the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin for the financial year 1901 . P. 9.
  4. German literary newspaper . Volume 46 (1925), p. 1434.
  5. Yousefi / Braun (2002) 46-50.