Jan Christian Gertz

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013
discipline Religious Studies
Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg

Research project

History of the Literature of Ancient Israel in the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Epoch


The project proposes to analyze and summarize the history of literature of ancient Israel in the 8th – 6th centuries B.C.E. The project is part of a multi-volume handbook on ancient Hebrew and early Jewish literary history. The subject of ancient Hebrew and early Jewish literary history are the writings from the 1st millennium B.C.E. collected in the Hebrew Bible. The biblical books originate from different periods of the history of ancient Israel and most of them were composed over a longer period of time. Parts of the texts are based on oral tradition. Like most literature originating in the ancient Near East, ancient Hebrew literature is scribal literature. That means it is the outcome of a long process of tradition; thus the individual text cannot be traced back to specific authors known by name that are historically identifiable. Instead ancient Hebrew literature derives from a largely anonymous process of tradition, in which the production and reception of the texts were closely connected. Transmitted tradition was adopted and adjusted to a new context and the result of such a process of reception became tradition itself. Nevertheless, due to the self-referential character of many of its texts, the Hebrew Bible developed its own history of literature by connecting the emergence of the books to certain historical situations and authorities. However, this self-perception differs considerably from the results of a historical analysis of the respective texts.
Reconstructing the development of the biblical books, scholars usually present their results according to the canonical order of the writings. In contrast, this project proposes to reconstruct the different periods of literary history beyond the borders of individual writings. By doing so, the traditional view of the development of the individual biblical book is expanded in order to survey the synchronic and diachronic networks of the individual phases of development. Additionally the ancient Hebrew literature is compared to the literature of the ancient Syrian-Palestinian world and to that of the various imperial powers.



Jan Christian Gertz is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg where he holds the Chair of History of Ancient Israel, Literature and Religion of the Old Testament. He holds a Ph.D. in Theology from the University.

Selected publications


T&T Clark Handbook of the Old Testament, with A. Berlejung, K. Schmid and M. Witte, T&T Clark, London – New York, 2012. 


‘The Formation of the Primeval History’, in C.A. Evans, J. Lohr and D.L. Petersen (eds), The Book of Genesis. Composition, Reception, and Interpretation, VT.S 152, Leiden/Boston 2012, pp.107-136.


‘Source Criticism in the Primeval History of Genesis: An Outdated Paradigma for the Study of the Pentateuch?’, in T. Dozeman, K. Schmid and B. Schwartz (eds), The Pentateuch, FAT 78, Tübingen, 2011, pp.169-180. 


‘Military Threat and the Concept of Exile in the Book of Amos’, in E. Ben Zvi and C. Levin (eds), Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel and its Historical Contexts, BZAW 404, Berlin/New York, 2010, pp.11-26. 


Grundinformation Altes Testament, with A. Berlejung, K. Schmid and M. Witte, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2009; 2nd. edn. 2007; 3rd. rev. edn. 2009; 4th edn. 2010.


‘Antibabylonische Polemik im priesterlichen Schöpfungsbericht?’, Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, vol.106, 2009, pp.137-155.


‘Noah und die Propheten: Rezeption und Reformulierung eines altorientalischen Mythos’, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, vol.81, 2007, pp.503-522.


‘Jean Astruc and Source Criticism in the Book of Genesis’, in J. Jarick (ed.), Sacred Conjectures: The Context and Legacy of Robert Lowth and Jean Astruc, Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, vol.457, T&T Clark , New York, 2007, pp.190-203.


‘The transition between the Books of Genesis and Exodus’, in T. B. Dozeman and K. Schmid (eds), A Farewell to the Yahwist ? The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation, Symposium Series, vol.34, Society of Biblical Society, Atlanta, 2006, pp.73-87. 


Tradition und Redaktion in der Exoduserzählung. Untersuchungen zur Endredaktion des Pentateuch, FRLANT 186, Göttingen, 2000.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Southeast Asian Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Philosophy
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline History