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German Protestant exegetist. Born at Lauterbach, Saxony, Feb. 26, 1807; died at Rodlitz, Saxony, May 5, 1888.
He studied theology in Dorpat and Berlin, and in 1833 accepted a call to the theological faculty of Dorpat, where he labored for twenty-five years as docent and professor of Old- and New-Testament exegesis and Oriental languages. In 1859 he settled at Leipsic, where he devoted himself to literary work and to the practical affairs of the Lutheran Church. In 1887 he moved to Rodlitz, continuing his literary activity there until his death.
He belonged to the strictly orthodox and conservative school of Hengstenberg. Ignoring modern criticism almost entirely, all his writings represent the view that the books of the Old and New Testaments are to be retained as the revealed word of God. He regarded the development of German theological science as a passing phase of error. His chief work is the commentary on the Old Testament (1866), which he undertook with Franz Delitzsch. To this work he contributed commentaries on all the books from Genesis through Esther, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the minor prophets.
Lutheran. Born at Leipsic Feb. 23, 1813 and died there Mar. 4, 1890.
He came of Hebrew parentage; studied at Leipsic, and became privatdocent in 1842; was called as ordinary professor to Rostock in 1846; then to Erlangen in 1850; and back to Leipsic in 1867.
His exegetical activity really commenced at Erlangen, where he prepared independently and in connection with Karl Keil some of the best commentaries on the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, 1866) which had been produced in Germany. These were soon translated into English and published at Edinburgh.
Delitzsch opposed the idea "of fencing theology off with the letter of the Formula of Concord." In an introduction to commentary on Genesis published in 1887, he made it clear that the Bible, as the literature of a divine revelation, can not be permitted to be charged with a lack of veracity or to be robbed of its historic basis.
In 1886 he founded a seminary at Leipsic in which candidates of theology are prepared for missionary work among the Jews, and which in memory of him is now called Institutum Judaicum Delitzschianum.
The Old Testament is the basis of the New. (Heb 1:1-2) The Church of Christ is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. For Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil. As He said to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me;" so also, a short time before His ascension, He opened the understanding of His disciples, that they might understand the Scriptures, and beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. With firm faith in the truth of this testimony of our Lord, the fathers and teachers of the Church in all ages have studied the Old Testament Scriptures, and have expounded the revelations of God under the Old Covenant in learned and edifying works, unfolding to the Christian community the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God which they contain, and impressing them upon the heart, for doctrine, for reproof, for improvement, for instruction in righteousness. It was reserved for the Deism, Naturalism, and Rationalism which became so prevalent in the closing quarter of the eighteenth century, to be the first to undermine the belief in the inspiration of the first covenant, and more and more to choke up this well of saving truth; so that at the present day depreciation of the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament is as widely spread as ignorance of what they really contain. At the same time, very much has been done during the last thirty years on the part of believers in divine revelation, to bring about a just appreciation and correct understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.
May the Lord grant His blessing upon our labours, and assist with His own Spirit and power a work designed to promote the knowledge of His holy Word.
C. F. Keil
Biographical text adapted from The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.