Martin Noth

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Martin Noth (born August 3, 1902 in Dresden , † May 30, 1968 in Schivta / Subeita in the Negev ) was a German Protestant theologian . The focus of his academic work is on historical-critical research on the Old Testament and the history of Israel .


Martin Noth was born on August 3, 1902 as the son of the senior high school teacher Lic. Gerhard Noth and the Cölestine Hochmuth. One of his brothers, Gottfried Noth , later became regional bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony . The Islamic scholar Albrecht Noth is his son.

From 1909 to 1913, Noth attended primary school in Dresden, and from 1913 to 1921 the local grammar school at the Holy Cross . From 1921 to 1925 he studied theology and oriental studies in Erlangen , Rostock and Leipzig . His most important teachers at this time were Rudolf Kittel and (above all) Albrecht Alt .

In 1925 he passed his first theological exam. In 1927 he completed his doctorate , which was based on a price task set by Kittel in 1922 on the meaning of Israelite personal names. The dissertation was supervised by Johannes Hempel , as was the habilitation less than five months later in 1927 at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald . The topic dealt with was reflected in Noth's first monograph Die Israelitischen Personalennamen in the context of common emitic naming (1928) and previously in an article in the magazine of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft 81 (1927), 1-45.

After a short period as a private lecturer in Greifswald, Noth completed his habilitation in Leipzig in 1928. In December 1929, Noth was appointed as a full professor in Königsberg as successor to Max Löhr . In 1938 he became a full member of the humanities class of the Königsberg learned society .

From 1939 to 1941 and from 1943 to 1945 Noth was called up as a soldier. During the war, he lost his entire library and all academic papers and records. At the end of the war, he lived with his family temporarily in Halle an der Saale until he was appointed to the University of Bonn on November 1 as the successor to the dismissed Anton Jirku , where he was rector in 1947/48 and 1957/58 . This was followed by calls to Göttingen , Tübingen , Hamburg and Basel , which Noth turned down. In 1962 he was President of the 4th IOSOT Congress, which took place in Bonn.

On October 1, 1964, Noth was on leave to head the reopened German Evangelical Institute for Classical Studies of the Holy Land in Jerusalem . On October 1, 1967, he retired . On May 30, 1968, Noth died of a coronary thrombosis during an excursion in the Negev desert. Israeli soldiers stationed nearby helped transport the suddenly deceased to Jerusalem. The funeral service took place in the Church of the Redeemer ; on May 31, Martin Noth was then buried in Bethlehem .

Scientific importance

Noth developed several great theories that changed biblical scholarship greatly.

Israelite amphictyony

His theory about pre-state Israel, in which he describes it as amphictyony , is famous . He assumes the existence of a pre-state Israelite tribal association, which was organized as a kind of holy league with a common central shrine. Although this theory can explain a lot, it is now considered outdated.

Tradition of the Pentateuch

With a view to the creation of the Pentateuch , Noth developed the “traditional explanatory model”. According to this, the Pentateuch emerged from several thematically arranged, originally independent blocks of tradition and not from the cooperation of different layers (narrative threads) running through the entire Pentateuch.

The books of the DtrG

Deuteronomistic history

After all, the theory of the Deuteronomic History (DtrG), which is largely undisputed in its core, goes back to Noth. According to this theory, a "historian" influenced by the theology of Deuteronomy has created a large, multi-book historical work using the existing scriptures and traditions about the book of Joshua , the so-called "judges", Samuel and the kings of Israel and Judah.



The University of Lund awarded Noth an honorary doctorate in law in 1959 and the University of Frankfurt am Main in 1964 .


  • The Israelite personal names in the context of the joint naming , Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1928.
    • The Israelite personal names in the context of the common Semitic naming . Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2010 [reprint] (contributions to the science of the Old and New Testament; H. 46 = Series 3, H. 10).
  • The system of the 12 tribes of Israel (BWANT IV, 1) , Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1930.
  • The book Josua , Tübingen: JCB Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1938 (Handbook to the Old Testament. Series 1, 7).
    • The book of Joshua . 2., verb. Ed., Tübingen: Mohr, 1953.
    • The book of Joshua , 3rd ed., Unchanged. Reprint of the 2nd, verb. Ed., Tübingen: Mohr, 1971.
  • The world of the old testament. Introduction to the border areas of Old Testament science, Berlin: Töpelmann, 1940 (Töpelmann collection. Series 2, auxiliary theological books; vol. 3).
    • The world of the old testament. Introduction to the Frontiers of Old Testament Science. 4., rework. Ed., Berlin: Töpelmann, 1962 (Töpelmann Collection; Vol. 3).
    • The world of the old testament. An introduction. With an introduction by Hans Walter Wolff , Freiburg im Breisgau / Basel / Vienna: Herder o. J. [1992] (Herder spectrum; vol. 4060).
  • Traditional studies. Part 1: The collecting and processing historical works in the Old Testament (writings of the Königsberg learned society, humanities class 18.2), Halle: Niemeyer 1943.
  • Tradition of the Pentateuch , Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1948.
  • The second book of Moses: Exodus. Translated and explained by Martin Noth , (Das Alte Testament Deutsch 5); Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 5th, unchanged. 1973 edition; ISBN 3-525-51115-9 .
  • The fourth book of Moses: Numbers. Translated and explained by Martin Noth , (Das Alte Testament Deutsch 7); Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2nd, unchanged. 1973 edition; ISBN 3-525-51127-2 .
  • History of Israel , Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1950, 6th edition 1966.
  • The contribution of archeology to the history of Israel . In: Vetus Testamentum , Supplement 7 (1960), pp. 262-282.

Font directory

  • Hermann Schult: Bibliography Martin Noth. In: Martin Noth: Collected studies on the Old Testament. Published by Hans Walter Wolff . Volume 2. Kaiser, Munich 1969, pp. 166-205 ( Theologische Bücherei 39, ISSN  0563-430X ).

Individual evidence

  1. See the entry of Martin Noth's matriculation in the Rostock matriculation portal
  2. Otto Plöger: In memory of Martin Noth , 1968, p. 101.


Web links