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Martin Noth

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Martin Noth

Martin Noth httpszwingliusredivivusfileswordpresscom201

August 3, 1902 (

Taught at Bonn, Gottingen, Tubingen, Hamburg, and University of Basel

Notable work
"The Deuteronomistic History"

Main interests
Pre-Exilic history of the Hebrews

Notable ideas
Traditional-historical approach to biblical studies

May 30, 1968, Negev, Israel

Leipzig University, University of Rostock

The Deuteronomistic History, Numbers: a commentary, The chronicler's history, The laws in the Pentateu, The History of Israel

Similar People
Rolf Rendtorff, R Kent Hughes, Erhard S Gerstenberger, Derek Tidball

Martin Noth (3 August 1902 – 30 May 1968) was a German scholar of the Hebrew Bible who specialized in the pre-Exilic history of the Hebrews. With Gerhard von Rad he pioneered the traditional-historical approach to biblical studies, emphasising the role of oral traditions in the formation of the biblical texts.



Noth was born in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony. He studied at the universities of Erlangen, Rostock, and Leipzig and taught at Greifswald and Königsberg.

From 1939-41 and 1943–45, Noth served as a German soldier during World War II. After the war he taught at Bonn, Göttingen, Tübingen, Hamburg, and University of Basel. He died during an expedition in the Negev, Israel.


Noth first attracted widespread attention with "Das System der zwölf Stämme Israels" (“The Scheme of the Twelve Tribes of Israel”, 1930), positing that the Twelve Tribes of Israel did not exist prior to the covenant assembly at Shechem described in the book of Joshua.

"A History of Pentateuchal Traditions," (1948, English translation 1972) set out a new model for the composition of the Pentateuch, or Torah. Noth supplemented the dominant model of the time, the documentary hypothesis, seeing the Pentateuch as composed of blocks of traditional material accreted round some key historical experiences. He identified these experiences as "Guidance out of Egypt," "Guidance into the Arable Land," "Promise to the Patriarchs," "Guidance in the Wilderness" and "Revelation at Sinai," the details of the narrative serving to fill out the thematic outline. Later, Robert Polzin showed that some of his main conclusions were consistent with arbitrary or inconsistent use of the rules that he proposed.

Even more revolutionary and influential, and quite reorienting the emphasis of modern scholarship, was "The Deuteronomistic History". In this work, Noth argued that the earlier theory of several Deuteronomist redactions of the books from Joshua to Kings did not explain the facts, and instead proposed that they formed a unified "Deuteronomic history", the product of a single author working in the late 7th century.

Noth also published commentaries on all the five books of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Noth considered that the book of Deuteronomy was more closely related to the following books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings (the Deuteronomistic History), thus he preferred the term Tetrateuch to refer to the first four books of the Old Testament.


  • A History of Pentateuchal Traditions
  • History of Israel: Biblical History
  • The Deuteronomistic History
  • Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien: Die sammelnden und bearbeitenden Geschichtswerke im Alten Testament
  • Articles

  • "Die Wege der Pharaonenheere in Palästina und Syrien. Untersuchungen zu den hieroglyphischen Listen palästinischer und syrischer Städte. III. Der Aufbau der Palästinaliste Thutmoses III.", ZDPV 61 (1938), pp. 26–65.
  • References

    Martin Noth Wikipedia