The inscription on Benno Jacob&8217;s grave (1862&8211;1945) aptly describes his life&8217;s work &8211; &8220;to learn and to teach; to fight and to help&8221;. This leading German rabbi, who escaped the Nazis to resettle in London, is one of the major figures who shaped modern Jewish biblical studies. He concluded that the meaning and spirit of the biblical text could be achieved only through a precise under stand ing of its language. He demonstrated the significance of details often overlooked and showed that these were not errors or parts of different documents, but shed new light on otherwise difficult passages. He forcefully rejected the fashionable documentary hypothesis and its often anti-Semitic bias. B. Jacob&8217;s studies incorporated the latest linguistics and other modern tools, but led to different conclusions in his magisterial commentaries on Genesis and Exodus along with other works. Benno Jacob was not only a scholar, a congregational rabbi in large German pulpits, and a national leader, but also a courageous fighter against anti-Semitism. Already as a university student, he founded the first Jewish duelling fraternity. As a popular orator and author he fought anti-Semitism throughout his life in Germany even at considerable personal risk.
Hentrich & Hentrich
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