||First Hebrew edition of R. David Hoffmann’s critical critique of Wellhausen’s theories. Julius Wellhausen was the leading proponent of the higher Bible criticism, which has been described as nothing more than the higher anti-Semiticism. His theories were widely accepted in many circles. In this work, originally written as Die wichtigsten Instanzen gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese (1903/1916) R. Hoffmann subjects Wellhausen’s views to serious scrutiny and finds them seriously wanting. He opposes Wellhausen, rejecting his theories of "sources," but does not formulate an original method of biblical investigation, relying on the basic assumption of "Torah from heaven." The translator, R. A. M. Lipshitz, provides an introduction discussing the life and work of R. Hoffmann.
R. David Zevi Hoffmann (1843–1921) was a rabbi and biblical and talmudic scholar. He was born in Verbo (Slovakia) and studied at Hungarian yeshivot, as well as at the Hildesheimer Seminary in Eisenstadt. He later studied in the universities of Vienna, Berlin, and Tuebingen. In 1873, when R. Hildesheimer established his Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, he invited R. Hoffman to lecture on the Talmud and the posekim, and later also on the Pentateuch. After R. Hildesheimer's death in 1899 R. Hoffmann was appointed rector of the Seminary. He was member and later chairman of the bet din of the Adass Yisroel congregation in Berlin. Toward the end of his life he was regarded as the supreme halakhic authority of German Orthodox Jewry and was inundated by questions in halakhah from most of the German rabbis. In 1918, on his 75th birthday, he was awarded the title professor by the German government. R. Hoffmann was reserved by nature, but nevertheless he taught publicly and voiced his opinion on public matters. He was a member of the executive of Agudat Israel, but at the same time spoke on behalf of Zionism, although fearing the reaction of extremists he hesitated to publish his opinions. His responsa are distinguished by a concern with contemporary conditions, and a tendency to leniency, wherever possible, in matters of halakhah, though he was a violent opponent of reform. In several of his works as, for example, in his apologetic book on the Shulhan Arukh, he directed a polemic against anti-Semites, non-Jews and apostates, who criticized halakhic law. His biblical investigations, too, were directed against biblical criticism. These writings, which occupied him for many years, were viewed by Hoffmann as "a holy undertaking... an obligatory battle to answer decisively these new critics who come as oppressors to violate the holy Torah." In his commentaries to Leviticus and Deuteronomy he emphasized the importance of rabbinic homiletical and exegetical interpretations for an understanding of these books. His approach to biblical investigation was essentially the result of the conditions of his time and place.
Despite his greatness, Hoffmann was humble and modest. His outstanding qualities were manifest both in the scientific world and public life, and in his private life. Those who knew him considered him as one of the spiritual heirs and successors of the Hasidei Ashkenaz. His other major books are: Mar Samuel (1873); Die erste Mischna und die Controversen der Tannaim (1882, 19132; Heb. Ha-Mishnah ha-Rishonah u-Felugta de-Tanna'ei, 1914); Der Schulchan-Aruch und die Rabbinen ueber das Verhaeltniss der Juden zu Andersglaeubigen (1885, expanded 18952); Zur Einleitung in die halachischen Midraschim (1887; Heb. Le-Heker Midreshei ha-Tanna'im, 1928); Die Mischna-Ordnung Nisikin uebersetzt und erklaert mit Einleitung (1893–97, 18992); Die Mechilta des R. Simon b. Jochai (1905); Das Buch Leviticus uebersetzt und erklaert (2 vols., 1905/06; Midrash Tannaim zum Deuteronomium (2 vols., 1900/09); Midrasch ha-gadol zum Buche Exodus (2 vols., up to "Jethro," 1914/21); Das Buch Deuteronomium uebersetzt und erklaert (2 vols., 1913/22; Melammed Leho'il (responsa, 3 vols., 1926–32).
Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) was a leading German biblical scholar of the 19th cent. He is recognized for his documentary hypothesis that sought to account for both the composition of the Pentateuch (Genesis–Deuteronomy) and for the evolution and history of Judaism. His Prolegomena to the History of Israel (1883; tr. 1885) is the best known of his many biblical studies. He studied theology at the university of Gottingen under Heinrich Ewald, establishing himself there in 1870 as privat-docent for Old Testament history. In 1872 he was appointed professor ordinarius of theology in Greifswald. Resigning in 1882 owing to conscientious scruples, he became professor extraordinarius of oriental languages in the faculty of philology at Halle, was elected professor ordinarius at Marburg in 1885, and was transferred to Gottingen in 1892. Wellhausen made his name famous by his critical investigations into Old Testament history and the composition of the Hexateuch, the uncompromising scientific attitude he adopted in testing its problems bringing him into antagonism with the older school of biblical interpreters. The best known of his works are De gentibus et familiis Judaeis (Gottingen, 1870); Der Text der Bucher Samuelis untersucht (Gottingen, 1871); Die Pharisder und Sadducaer (Greifswald, 1874); Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels (Berlin, 1882; Eng. trans., 1885; sth German edition, 1899; first published in 1878 as Geschichte Israels); Muhammed in Medina (Berlin, 1882); Die Komposition des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bucher des Alien Testaments (1889, 3rd ed. 1899); Israelitische und jiidische Geschichte (1894, 4th ed. 1901); Reste arabischen Heidentums (1897); Das arabische Reich und sein Sturz (1902); Skizzen und Vorarbeiten (1884-1899); and new and revised editions of F. Bleek's Einleitung in das Alte Testament (4-6, 1878-1893). In 1906 appeared Die christliche Religion, mit Einschluss der israelitisch-judischen Religion, in collaboration with A. Julicher, A. Harnack and others. He also did useful and interesting work as a New Testament commentator. He published Das Evangelium Marci, ubersetzt und erklart in 1903. Das Evangelium Matthai and Das Evangelium Lucae in 1904. and Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien in 1905.