German commentaries

Reinhard G.Lehmann lehmann at
Tue Aug 1 01:10:55 EDT 2000

> Hello all,
> What is/are the best German=language commentaries to the Tanakh in print
> today?
> Yours,

Dear Jonathan, Jim, and all,

I NEVER would say that "anything in the "Biblischer Kommentar" series 
is worth getting" (Jim) - there are volumes among it that I refused to 
buy until today, because they are not worth the paper and its price! 
(you understand that I tell no names, I am a German).

I always tell my students that the choice of a commentarry depends on 
budget, and the question: what kind of question do you want the 
commentary to answer? And: Do you want to get answers from your 
commentary, or do you want the commentary to show you a way how to ask 
the right questions, even if the commentary's one is the worst you can 
get? The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but 
time and chance...

There are indeed very good OLD German commentaries, which are all 
along outdated under aspects of comparative religion ore so called 
'higher criticism' aspects, but are still very good in philological 
questions. And there are a lot of modern German commentaries that are 
fully abreast the latest scholarship and / or on a theological highway 
directly to heaven ;-), but can not trust them ONE single hebrew word.

So you understand that I never would recommend a commentary series as 
a whole.

I do not like modern commentaries much at all - not because I am 
conservative ore something else (I am NOT!!), but because they have so 
much missing in sound philology.

For Ezek, I like very much Zimmerli, but for Jeremia, I like most 
Hollady (admittedly not German). 1 Kings: still Martin Noth, or 
Wuerthwein. Genesis: ?????? (not Westermann, too big, too expensive, 
too long-winded, and a lot of mistakes concerning Hebrew ­ so I take 
that old Gunkel), Isaiah: the old Duhm (not available, but the best 
feeling for language and good translations I ever have seen), or the 
new Wildberger. Ex: H.W.Schmidt, Josh: Fritz, Judges: ?????, 1/2 Sam: 
???????, Amos: Wolff, Psalms: ??????  (NOT Kraus - see what I wrote to 
Westermann), Qohelet: Lohfink, and D. Michel (unfortunately 
unpublished before he died last year), Song: Pope (not German, as you 
know, but the best of all, the best German one is Keel, and H.-P. 
Mueller) ...

I will give you no complete list of my favorites now (50 % of them are 
not German), but any questions?

Best regards
       Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann
       Lect. for Classical Hebrew and Aramaic
       Johannes-Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
       D - 55099 Mainz
       tel: +49 - 6131 - 39 3284
       mailto:lehmann at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list