Michaelis, an 18th century German scholar at Göttingen,was known for being an orientalist as well as a biblical scholar. He has a good pedigree, since both his father (Christian B. Michaelis) and great uncle (Johan Heinrich Michaelis) were influential biblical scholars. He kept in contact with British scholars and introduced Lowth’s work of poetry to Germany. As a competent scholar in Syriac and Arabic, he was able to include Near Eastern parallels into his work on biblical studies. His most enduring contributions were probably his text critical work on the Peshitta. His work shows the influence of critical scholarship that had been taking root in biblical studies, even arguing that the pentateuchal legal collections should examined from their historical origins. Michaelis also trained Eichhorn who’s Einleitung had a formative influence on biblical studies. At the time, he was one of the foremost authorities on Jewish law, having written a six-volume work called “Mosaic Law.” Michaelis’s views today would be considering shockingly antisemitic as he weighed in on the conversation of whether Jewish Germans should be given full rights.


Dictionary of Biblical Interpreters

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Hess, Jonathan M. “Johann David Michaelis and the Colonial Imaginary: Orientalism and the Emergence of Racial Antisemitism in Eighteenth-Century Germany.” Jewish Social Studies 6, no. 2 (January 1, 2000): 56–101.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.