PFEIFFER, ROBERT HENRY°


PFEIFFER, ROBERT HENRY° (1892–1958), U.S. Protestant Bible scholar and Assyriologist. Pfeiffer taught at Harvard University from 1922, after serving in the ministry of the Methodist Church from 1916 to 1919. He directed the Harvard-Baghdad School excavations at Nuzi, Iraq (from 1928), and from 1931 served as curator of the Harvard Semitic Museum.

Pfeiffer is mainly known for his Introduction to the Old Testament (1941, 19522) and its sequel History of New Testament Times, With an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949). These works and his The Books of the Old Testament (1957) show a marked influence of his major professors at Harvard, George Foot Moore and William R. Arnold. It was the influence of the latter and the writings of A. Klostermann that led him to isolate the earliest Hebrew historical source that includes II Samuel 9–20 and I Kings 1–2, published as The Hebrew Iliad with general and chapter introductions by William G. Pollard, and to claim that the priest Ahimaaz, the biographer of David, was "the father of history," history being defined as a narrative of past events dominated by great ideas. Pfeiffer's works in the field of Assyriology included The Archives of Shilwateshub (1932); Excavations at Nuzi, volumes 2 (1933) and 4 (with E.R. Lacheman, 1942); One Hundred New Selected Nuzi Texts (with E.A. *Speiser, 1936); and State Letters of Assyria (1935).

Pfeiffer wrote a number of papers on literary, philological, and historical critical problems of the Bible. His comments on New Testament subjects followed the methodology of his teaching, which was distinguished by a traditional Christian approach. He was editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, 1943–47.

[Zev Garber]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.