Otto Kaiser (theologian)

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Otto Kaiser (born November 30, 1924 in Prenzlau ; † December 14, 2017 in Marburg ) was a German Protestant theologian and Old Testament scholar .


Kaiser was the son of a Prussian administrative officer. After completing high school in Eberswalde , he began to study medicine at the Military Medical Academy in Berlin , but soon came to war and wounded on the Eastern Front . At the end of 1945 he continued his studies at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen and attended lectures in Protestant theology , philosophy , psychodiagnostics and Egyptology . From 1952 to 1954 Otto Kaiser was vicar in the Swabian town of Balingen , from 1954 to 1958 assistant in Tübingen. He received his doctorate there in 1956 with a thesis on the mythical meaning of the sea in Egypt, Ras Shamra and Israel (published in 1959) and completed his habilitation in 1958 with The Royal Servant: An Exegetical Study of the Ebed-Yahweh Songs in Deutero-Isaiah .

In 1960 he received an extraordinary professorship at the University of Marburg and in 1963 the chair for the Old Testament, which he held until his retirement in 1993 despite numerous appointments at other universities.

He last lived in Ockershausen .


His work is in the tradition of Rudolf Bultmann ; he sees theology as “the exploration of human reflection on the experience of the divine in time and space”. He wrote a three-volume theology of the Old Testament and also an Introduction to the Old Testament, which became the standard work. His many specialties include the book of Job , the Kohelet , the Apocrypha and Sirach . Kaiser is also considered to be an excellent connoisseur of ancient and modern philosophy, especially Kant , Hegel , and, most recently, Aristotelian philosophy as well as Plato and Nietzsche .

The universities of Jena , Tartu and Salzburg awarded him honorary doctorates . Kaiser was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany . He was a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen .

Selected works


  • Ideology and belief. A danger to the Christian faith is shown using the example of the Old Testament . Radius, Stuttgart 1984. ISBN 3-87173-679-1
  • Man under fate. Studies on the history, theology and present-day meaning of wisdom (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 161). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1985, ISBN 3-11-010095-9
  • The God of the Old Testament. Old Testament theology. Essence and effect. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1993-2003, ISBN 3-8252-2428-7 in 3 volumes:
  • The Old Testament Apocrypha. A basic introduction. Kaiser / GVH, Gütersloh 2000. ISBN 3-579-02661-5
  • with Gottfried Adam and Otto Merk Introduction to the exegetical methods. Kaiser / GVH, Gütersloh 2000. ISBN 3-579-02651-8 ; ISBN 3-579-02651-3
  • Between Athens and Jerusalem. Studies on Greek and Biblical theology, their characteristics and their relationship (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 320). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003 ISBN 3-11-017577-0
  • Beyond nihilism. Postmodern Christian existence. Radius, Stuttgart 2004. ISBN 3-87173-292-3
  • Wisdom for life. The book of Jesus Sirach translated and introduced. Radius, Stuttgart 2005. ISBN 3-87173-313-X
  • The book of Job translated and introduced . Radius, Stuttgart 2006. ISBN 3-87173-363-6
  • The Prophet Isaiah, chapters 1–12 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1981 ( Old Testament German Volume 17).
  • Human happiness and God's righteousness. Studies on Biblical Tradition in the Context of Hellenistic Philosophy . ( Tria Corda Volume 1), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-16-149471-0 .
  • Christmas in the Easter light. A biblical introduction to the Christian faith , Radius, Stuttgart 2008.
  • God. Man and history. Studies on the understanding of humans and their history in classical, biblical and biblical literature (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 413). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-11-022809-0 .
  • The wisdom of Solomon translated and introduced . Radius, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-87173-906-4 .
  • as editor: documents of a friendship in difficult times. Hermann Hupfeld and Johann Wolfgang Bickell. Correspondence 1832–1848. Edited and provided with an introduction (= publications of the Historical Commission Hesse. Volume XXIII / 5). Historical Commission Hesse, Marburg.


  • Between interpretation and over-interpretation: the ethos of the interpreter. In: Variations herméneutiques , 6 (May), 1997, pp. 53-70.
  • Talking about God in the age of nihilism. In: James Alfred Loader, Hans Volker Kieweler (ed.): Versatility of the Old Testament. Festschrift for Georg Sauer on his 70th birthday . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-631-32557-6 , pp. 411-425.
  • The fear and love of God. An attempt to compare Ben Sira's ethics with that of the Apostle Paul. In: Renate Egger-Wenzel (Ed.): Ben Sira's God. Proceedings of the International Ben Sira Conference, Durham - Ushaw College 2001 (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science. Volume 321). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2002, ISBN 3-11-017559-2 , pp. 39-75.


  • Ingo Kottsieper et al. (Ed.): “Who is like you, LORD, among the gods?” Studies on theology and religious history of Israel. Festschrift for Otto Kaiser on his 70th birthday. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1994, ISBN 3-525-53631-3
  • Jörg Jeremias (Ed.): Justice and Life in the Hellenistic Age. Symposium on the occasion of Otto Kaiser’s 75th birthday (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 296). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2001, ISBN 3-11-016823-5 .
  • Wolfgang Drechsler (Ed.): Paradiama. Essays in Honor of Otto Kaiser on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday (= Trames. Volume 3 (53/48), Issue 3, autumn 1999).
  • Markus Witte (ed.): God and man in dialogue. Festschrift for Otto Kaiser on his 80th birthday (= supplements to the journal for Old Testament science . Volume 345 / I – II). 2 volumes, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2004, ISBN 3-11-018354-4


  • Otto Kaiser: Otto Kaiser. In: Sebastian Grätz, Bernd U. Schipper (Hrsg.): Old Testament science in self-portrayals. Göttingen 2007 ISBN 978-3-8252-2920-7 , pp. 3-17.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Award of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on March 7, 1990 . In: The Hessian Prime Minister (Ed.): State Gazette for the State of Hesse. 1990 No. 13 , p. 542 , point 281 ( online at the information system of the Hessian state parliament [PDF; 7.3 MB ]).