Both were men of extremely high linguistic ability, but in other respects they formed a striking contrast. The father was pious and conservative in theology, and although he was interested in Christian missions to the Jews, he was warmly appreciative of Judaism; the son became iconoclastic and contemptuous toward traditional doctrine and hostile to the entire dependence of Christianity upon Judaism. The leading figure in the Assyriology of his time, Friedrich Delitzsch placed grammar and lexicography of the languages of ancient Mesopotamia on a sound and exact basis. In the area of biblical scholarship, his Die Lese- und Schreibfehler im Alten Testament provided an exhaustive classification of ways in which copying errors, such as writing one consonant in place of another, may have affected the text of the Hebrew Bible. His main influence on religious studies came with the "Babel-Bible" controversy. Advances in Assyriology had already made a difference to scholarship but had hardly affected the general public.

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Currently, only selected museums, exhibitions and institutes of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are open to the public. In conjunction with this conference, the Vorderasiatisches Museum zu Berlin is devoting a research exhibition to the topic.

In the presence of the Kaiser, he presented the revolutionary thesis that the Jewish religion and the stories contained in the Old Testament could be traced back to Babylonian precursors. Though the Kaiser was initially quite taken by these ideas, he abandoned Delitzsch in the wake of vociferous protests. When the scholar of the Ancient Near East stuck to his theories in two further lectures, a fierce conflict broke out between theologians and proponents of the nascent discipline of Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

The ensuing debates, which were at times highly polemical, led to an enormous popularisation of the German-led excavations in the Near East, and in particular those in Babylon. Additionally, feature articles in newspapers, satirical magazines and caricatures addressed the topic, allowing the educated middle class to participate in this scholarly conflict in an entertaining fashion.

Vorderasiatisches Museum. The major architectural exhibits — such as the Processional Way, featuring the Ishtar Gate and the Market Gate of Miletus — are still accessible to people with mobility issues.

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Friedrich Delitzsch

He was the son of Lutheran theologian Franz Delitzsch — Born in Erlangen , he studied in Leipzig and Berlin , gaining his habilitation in as a lecturer of Semitic languages and Assyriology in Leipzig. In he became a full professor at Leipzig, afterwards serving as a professor at the Universities of Breslau and Berlin Friedrich Delitzsch specialized in the study of ancient Middle Eastern languages, and published numerous works on Assyrian language, history and culture. He is remembered today for his scholarly critique of the Old Testament.


Babel und Bibel und Bias



Delitzsch, Friedrich


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