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Hermann Gunkel
Mercer University Press, 1997 - Bible - 477 pages
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Gunkel's commentary on Genesis is a classic in the field of Old Testament studies. This translation makes it available in English for the first time. Gunkel's familiarity with the religious and folk literatures of the world especially of the ancient Near East, provides the context into which he sought to situate Israelite religion and literature. Although he employed source- and form-critical methods, he brought a fine literary and cultural sensitivity to bear on the question of the interpretation of the text in its final forms. In fact, many who now criticize late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship for its atomism and aridity (Gunkel himself, expressed an awareness of these dangers) will be surprised to find Gunkel's literary reading of Genesis and his engagement with the text inferior to none based on modern approaches. Many of the critical issues with which Gunkel grappled in his commentary continue to commend the attention of Genesis scholarship: the nature of patriarchal religion, the interrelationship between documentary sources, oral tradition, and editorial activity, the antiquity of Israel's eschatological hope, and much more.

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About the author (1997)

Hermann Gunkel, a high-ranking biblical scholar, was born in Springe, Germany, near Hanover, and obtained his formal education at the Universities of Gottingen, Giessen, and Leipzig. After teaching New Testament for one year at Gottingen in 1888, Gunkel devoted the rest of his academic career to Old Testament studies at Halle (1889--93), Berlin (1894--1907), and Giessen (1907--20) before returning to Halle (1920--27). Gunkel's methodological insights and conclusions are most readily evident in two masterful commentaries on Genesis (1901) and Psalms (1926). Above all, Gunkel emphasized the significance of the community as opposed to individual biblical authors and spelled out the ways in which tradition is handed down orally within the community. His isolation of various family and cultic legends in the book of Genesis and his identification of different types of psalmic composition---such as the psalm of individual thanksgiving, royal psalm, and hymn---in the book of Psalms has assuredly shaped subsequent scholarly treatment of not only these two key Old Testament books but also other books in the biblical canon.

Mark E. Biddle (Ph.D., University of Zurich) is Professor of Old Testament at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He has written numerous articles & reviews as well as two books & four volumes of translated works. He has been pastor & in churches in Indiana, Germany, Switzerland, & Tennessee.

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