He studied at the universities of Berlin and Leipzig. In 1880 he became privatdocent in the University of Göttingen and from 1883 to 1889 was assistant professor of Assyriology. In 1883 he became professor of Semitic languages at Johns Hopkins University, but until 1889 continued to lecture in the summer at Göttingen.
In addition to numerous smaller articles, he projected and edited the Polychrome Bible, a critical edition of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and a new English translation with notes. A unique feature of this edition is the use of different colors to distinguish the various sources and component parts in the Old Testament books—each one of which is entrusted to a specialist in biblical studies.
- Der keilinschriftliche Sintfluthbericht (1881)
- Akkadische und sumerische Keilschrifttexte (1881–82)
- Die akkadische Sprache (1882)
- Sumerische Familiengesetze (1883)
- Nimrodepos (the Gilgamesh epic, 1884–91)
He published critical texts with notes of:
- Canticles (1902)
- Koheleth (1905)
- Ecclesiastes (1905)
- Nahum (1907); Esther (1908)
- Micah (1910)
- Biblische Liebeslieder (1907)
- "Die Schlacht von Taanach," in Studien ... Wellhausen gewidmet (1914)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
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