Yehezkel Kaufmann and Fundamental Problems in Biblical Scholarship

December 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

Before I turn my attention elsewhere, I’d like to introduce a few more “biblical studies” articles in past issues of the Journal of the Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions (JISMOR), published by Doshisha University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions.

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This time, I’d like to introduce a contribution to JISMOR by Job Y. Jindo, a former classmate at Harvard. I think that both Japanese and English readers will be happy to know that Jindo’s Japanese article in JISMOR has been revised and published in English as well.

Below, I have included bibliographic information and links for both articles, as well as a few additional links that may be of interest.

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First, the Japanese article in JISMOR.

Original Title: カウフマンの見た近代聖書学の根本問題 ―イェヘズケル・カウフマンのヴェルハウゼン批判より―

Transliteration: Kaufuman no mita kindai seisho-gaku no konpon mondai: Iehezukeru Kaufuman no Weruhauzen hihan yori

English Title: Revisiting Kaufmann: Fundamental Problems in Modern Biblical Scholarship – From Yehezkel Kaufmann’s Criticism of Wellhausen’s Methodological Presuppositions (this is JISMOR’s English translation of the title, found here)

Author: 神藤 誉武・Yobu (Job) Jindō

Publication Info (Japanese): 一神教学際研究 3 (2007): 44–78

Publication Info (English): Journal of the Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions 3 (2007): 44–78

Article Links:

English Abstract:

This article surveys and discusses the fundamental problem in modern biblical scholarship identified and thoroughly criticized by Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889-1963). These problems are manifested especially in Julius Wellhausen’s study of Israel’s religious history, which was the prevailing position in Kaufmann’s time. Kaufmann’s discussion of Wellhausen’s approach pertains not only to biblical scholarship in particular, but also to the study of religion and religious history in general. Therefore, reconsideration of his methodological discussion may greatly benefit scholars of religious studies and ancient texts generally. This article will first present a brief profile of Kaufmann, followed by an outline of Wellhausen’s hypothesis. The paper will then discuss Kaufmann’s critique of Wellhausen’s study in the following order: (1) the dating of the P(riestly) Source; (2) the Christian prejudice that was then prevalent in modern biblical scholarship; (3) the problem of the philosophical presuppositions pertaining to the historical study of biblical monotheism. (From CiNii)

Japanese Abstract:


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Second, the English version, which appears to be a significant revision of the 2007 Japanese article.

Title: Recontextualizing Kaufmann: His Empirical Conception of the Bible and Its Significance in Jewish Intellectual History

Author: Job Y. Jindo

Publication Info: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 19:2 (2011): 95–129

Article Link: Members of should be able to access this full-text version (PDF) of the article.


This essay revisits the significance of Kaufmann’s Toledot ha-emunah ha-yisre’elit in Jewish intellectual history, as its reception has hitherto been somewhat reductive. His work is generally viewed as an anti-Christian (anti-Wellhausen) polemic with a Zionist agenda that sought to glorify the formative period of his people. A closer look at his intellectual background, as well as his theoretical framework, leads us to a different understanding of his work in general and of its alleged nationalistic features in particular. The essay shows, inter alia, that Kaufmann was already making a Diltheyan hermeneutic turn decades before others in his field. (From Brill Online)

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Author Affiliations:

  • At time of publication in JISMOR (2007): ニューヨーク・ユダヤ神学校大学院研究員・Visiting Scholar, Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
  • Current: Berkowitz Fellow, New York University School of Law; Adjunct Professor, The Academy for Jewish Religion (New York)

A Recent Interview with the Author



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