He studied theology at the University of Göttingen, where he had as instructors Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889), Heinrich Ewald (1803-1875) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), with the latter becoming a good friend and colleague to Duhm. In 1873 he became a lecturer at Göttingen and subsequently an associate professor of Old Testament studies (1877). In 1888 he relocated to the University of Basel, where he was one of the more influential Old Testament scholars of his time.
Duhm is remembered for his exegetical work on the prophets of the Old Testament, particularly studies dealing with the complexities of the Books of Jeremiah and Isaiah. He pioneered the theory of multiple authors of the book of Isaiah. His commentary outlined the structure and content of Isaiah chapters 1-39 (called "First Isaiah" or "Isaiah of Jerusalem"). Duhm in the same commentary provides an in-depth analysis of the "Deuterojesaja" (Second Isaiah, chapters 40-55), and the so-called "Tritojesaja" (Third Isaiah, chapters 56-66).
He was the father of three sons, Hans (1878-1946) Dietrich (1880-1940) and Andreas (1883-1975), all of whom were professional chess players. Bernhard Duhm died in Basel on November 1, 1928 as the result of car accident.
- Die Theologie der Propheten als Grundlage für die innere Entwicklungsgeschichte der israelitischen Religion (The theology of the prophets as the basis for internal development of the Israelite religion), 1875.
- Das Buch Jesaia übersetzt und erklärt (The Book of Isaiah translated and explained), 1892.
- Das Buch Jeremia, (The Book of Jeremiah), 1901.
- Israels Propheten (Israel's prophets), 1922.
- "This article includes translated text from an equivalent article at the German Wikipedia", whose references include: Duhm, Bernhard at Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Band 4, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1959 ISBN 3-428-00185-0, S. 179 f