Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889-1963) was a Ukrainian-born Israeli scholar, whose contributions to biblical

scholarship have often been overlooked.  He received his PhD from the University of Berne in 1918 and taught at the Re’ali School in Haifa (1928-1949) and the Hebrew University (1949-1963). 

            Kaufmann’s scholarship focused on the origin and history of Jewish religion.  He consciously formulated his four-volume magnum opus The Religion of Israel from its Beginning to the Babylonian Exile as an alternative to the conclusions drawn by Julius Wellhausen in Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel.  Unlike Wellhausen, Kaufmann argued that Israelite religion was monotheistic from the beginning and that myth was unknown concept in ancient Israel.  He also denied that JE, P, and D represent different stages in the development of Israelite religion, preferring to see them as independent literary creations.  Significantly, Kaufmann dated P earlier that D, a conclusion that is now supported by linguistic evidence.         


Hayes, John H.  “Yehezkel Kaufmann”  In Dictionary of Biblical Interpreters Vol. II., edited by John H. Hayes, 16-17.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999

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