Rolf Rendtorff (1925–2014)


Rolf Rendtorff, emeritus professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg, passed away on April 1, 2014.

Rendtorff studied under Gerhard von Rad—one of the first to apply form criticism to the Pentateuch—at the University of Heidelberg in the 1950s. Rendtorff would go on to refine his own theories about the composition of the Pentateuch. Rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis,* he championed an approach that took into account the history of traditions in the Bible and looked at the “the Biblical text itself in its given form.” 1 A distinguished scholar, he elaborated on his views about the Hebrew Bible and Christian- Jewish understanding in Bible Review.**

Rendtorff was rector of the University of Heidelberg from 1970 to 1972. In 1965, he founded the German-Israeli Society, and in 2002, he was awarded the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal, an annual prize given for contributions to Christian-Jewish understanding. His works include The Problem of the Process of Transmission in the Pentateuch (1977), The Covenant For- mula: An Exegetical and Theological Investigation (1998) and The Canonical Hebrew Bible (2005).




1. Rolf Rendtorff, “What Happened to the ‘Yahwist’?: Reflections after Thirty Years,” SBL Forum (blog), June 2006.

* See Joseph Blenkinsopp, “The Documentary Hypothesis in Trouble,” Bible Review, Winter 1985.

** See Rolf Rendtorff, “Jews and Christians,” Bible Review, February 2003; Rolf Rendtorff, “What We Miss,” Bible Review, February 1998; Rolf Rendtorff, “Must ‘Biblical Theology’ Be Christian Theology?” Bible Review, June 1988.

Posted in Archaeologists, Biblical Scholars & Works.

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