KEIL, Johann Karl Friedrich. Lauterbach bei Oelsnitz, Sachsen 26.2.1807 — Rödlitz, Sachsen 5.5.1888. German Oriental Scholar in Estonia. Professor in Dorpat (Tartu), started Sanskrit teaching there. Son of a Saxonian farmer, Johann Gottfried K. and his wife Anna Sophie. In 1821 moved to his uncle in St. Petersburg. He studied theology and Oriental languages at Dorpat in 1827-30 (under Henzi and Kreinert), completing Cand. Theol., and Berlin, where he also attended Bopp’s Sanskrit teaching. Ph.D. & Lic. Theol. 1833 Berlin. From 1833 PD at Dorpat, in 1838-58 (1838-39 eo.) Professor of Exegetics and Oriental Languages there. In 1841-51 dean of Theological Faculty. In 1858 he resigned his chair and returned to his native Saxonia, where he concentrated on working commentaries about the Old Testament books. Married Bertha Pohrt (d. 1852), then Maria Bienemann, two children.
As the chair was largely meant for training of future priests and, as Hebrew was taught separately, Keil was mainly concerned with Aramaic. But he also taught other languages like Arabic and Syriac. He was the first to teach Sanskrit at Dorpat in 1837. In exegetics he was a Lutheran Orthodox, but in his lectures he also dealt with the Qur’ān and Mahābhārata.
Publications: Diss. Apologetischer Versuch über die Bücher der Chronik und die Integrität des Buches Esra. B. 1833; diss. off. Apologia mosaicae traditionis de mundi hominumque originibus exponentis. Dorpat 1838; other works on the Old Testament.
– “Ueber die Hiram-Salomonische Schifffahrt nach Ophir und Tarsis”, Dorpater theol. Beitr. 2, 1834.
– “Obzor sovremennyh uspehov sravnitel’nago jazykoznanija, osobenno v otnošenii k srodstvu sanskritskago jazyka s jazykami semitičeskimi”, Žurnal minist. narod. prosv. 20:11, 1838, 262-319.
– Handbuch der biblischen Archäologie. 1-2. 1858-59, 2nd ed. 1875, English tr. 1856 (!).
– Edited with Franz Delitzsch: Biblischer Kommentar über das A. T. 1861ff. with numerous own contributions; commentaries on the Gospels and some Epistles.
Sources: Frej, Biobibl. slovar’ … Jur’evskago, byvšago Derptskago Universiteta. Jur’ev 1902, 91-94; Kratschkowski, Die russische Arabistik. Lp. 1957, 86; Klaassen, Eesti afriasiaatika. Tartu 1988, 57f.; family and photo in geni.com; briefly Wikipedia.
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