Wilhelm Vatke (theologian)

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Johann Karl Wilhelm Vatke (born March 14, 1806 in Behnsdorf near Magdeburg , † April 19, 1882 in Berlin ) was a Protestant theologian and professor of the Old Testament and religious philosophy in Berlin.

Wilhelm Vatke studied in Halle, Göttingen and Berlin and became a private lecturer at the University of Berlin in 1830 and a professor there in 1837. Vatke was one of the founders of the more recent biblical criticism of the Old Testament. In the same year (1835), when David Friedrich Strauss published his "Leben Jesu" (Life of Jesus), Vatke published his book The biblical theology scientifically presented , which contained similarly revolutionary ideas about the Old Testament. Vatke's ideas were hardly taken up at first and were then further developed by Abraham Kuenen and Julius Wellhausen .

His son Wilhelm was a botanist.


  • Biblical theology presented scientifically . Part 1: The Old Testament Religion Developed According to the Canonical Books . 1835
  • Human freedom in relation to sin and divine grace . Bethge, Berlin 1841
  • Philosophy of religion or general philosophical theology . After lectures ed. v. Hermann GS Prize. Strauss, Bonn 1888
  • Historical-critical introduction to the Old Testament . After lectures ed. v. Hermann GS Preiss and DA Hilgenfeld . Strauss, Bonn 1886


  • Christoph Bultmann: Art. Vatke, Wilhelm . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie 34 (2002), pp. 552–555 (with further references) Google Booksearch
  • Max HeinzeVatke, Johann Karl Wilhelm . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 39, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1895, pp. 508-510.
  • Lothar Perlitt : Vatke and Wellhausen. Historical-philosophical prerequisites and historiographical motifs for the representation of the religion and history of Israel by Wilhelm Vatke and Julius Wellhausen . Supplements to the journal for Old Testament science 94. Töpelmann, Berlin 1965
  • John W. Rogerson: "What is Religion? The Challenge of Wilhelm Vatke's 'Biblical Theology'". In: Christoph Bultmann, Walter Dietrich , Christoph Levin (eds.): Verification of the Old Testament. Contributions to Biblical Hermeneutics. Festschrift for Rudolf Smend on his 70th birthday . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002, 272–284 ISBN 3-525-53621-6
  • Martin Kegel: Wilhelm Vatke and the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis . Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1911
  • Heinrich Benecke: Wilhelm Vatke in his life and his writings . Strauss, Bonn 1883
  • Christoph Moritz Bernhard Julius Drechsler: The unscientific nature in the field of Old Testament criticism. Evidenced from the writings of recent critics, especially Messrs. Von Bohlen and Vatke . Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1837