Robert Eisler

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Robert Eisler (27 April 1882 – 17 December 1949) was an Austrian Jewish historian of art and culture, and Biblical scholar. He was a follower of the psychology of Carl Jung. His writings cover a great range of topics, from cosmic kingship and astrology to werewolves.


Eisler was born in Vienna, then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He attended the University of Vienna, the Sapienza University of Rome, and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. In World War I he served as an officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Eisler had a position at the Austrian Historical Institute at the Vienna University. From 1925-31 he served as Assistant Director of the League of Nations Universities Interrelation Office in Paris and temporarily held a guest professorship at the Sorbonne. At that time he wrote on economics. Persecuted by the Nazi authorities after the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, he survived his internment in the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps. Before the outbreak of World War II he could take refuge in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a lecturer at the University of Oxford. He died in Oxted, Surrey.

Married to Lili von Pausinger, Eisler was the son-in-law of Austrian painter Franz Xaver von Pausinger (1839–1915). His wife's sister Elisabeth translated Johanna Spyri's classic children's book Heidi into English and was married to the American writer Charles Wharton Stork (1881–1971).


He advanced controversial theses on the Life of Jesus. One is about the concept of a political, rebellious and eschatological Jew as Jesus, in relation to the Zealot movement.[1][2][3] In this he is the company of Joel Carmichael.[4] In arguing for this position he used the work of Flavius Josephus[5] in Slavonic manuscripts (the authenticity of which has been questioned).[6] On the Messiah he discussed the afikoman in 1925, with ideas taken up much later.[7] He made much of the Hebrew background of John the Baptist.[8]

He was described by Gershom Scholem as 'an astonishing figure in the world of scholarship'.[9] Another critic was Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough.[10]


  • Studien zur Werttheorie (1902) The Theory Of Values
  • Die Legende vom heiligen Karantanerherzog Domitianus, Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 28, Innsbruck 1907
  • Die illuminierten Handschriften in Kärnten (1907)
  • Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt, two volumes (1910) Internet Archive link (vol. 1 only)
  • Die Kenitischen Weihinschriften der Hyksoszeit (1919)
  • Orpheus the Fisher: Comparative Studies in Orphic and Christian Cult Symbolism (1921)
  • Das Geld (1924)
  • Orphisch-Dionysische Mysteriengedanken in der christlichen Antike (1925)
  • Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas, two volumes (1929/30)
  • The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (1931) pdf link
  • This Money Maze (1931)
  • Stable Money (1932)
  • Monetary Theory and Monetary Policy (1934)
  • Zur Kritik der psychologistischen Konjunktur-Theorie (1935)
  • Das Rätzel des vierten Evangeliums (1936) as The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel (1938)
  • Flavius Josephus Studien (1938)
  • The Royal Art of Astrology (London 1946)
  • Man Into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy (1948)
  • Una Tavoletta di Biccherna Nuovamente Scoperta (1950)
  • Comparative Studies In Ancient Cosmology (never published)


  1. ^ [1]: In the tradition of S. G. F. Brandon and Robert Eisler, Robert Eisenman has argued that the original Jamesian Christianity consisted of Torah-observant and nationalistic Jews of insurrectionist bent.
  2. ^ [2]:the notion that Jesus is to be seen chiefly in political terms, a notion which [S. G. F.] Brandon, together with H. S. Reimarus and Robert Eisler, championed within the world of academic discourse.
  3. ^ [3]: Several major scholars in controversial books, Robert Eisler, S. G. F. Brandon and Paul Winters, claim he was a Zealot.
  4. ^ The Death of Jesus
  5. ^ Also Celsus and Sossianus Hierocles.
  6. ^ For example by Charles Guignebert, John P. Meier[4].
  7. ^ By David Daube, see [5].
  8. ^
  9. ^ Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship (English translation, 1982), p.131. Scholem goes on to say For all unsolved problems he had in readiness brilliantly false solutions of the most surprising kind. He was a man of unbridled ambition, ceaseless diligence, but rather unstable character. Indeed, Eisler held the dubious honor of holding a post at Scholem and Walter Benjmain's fictional University of Muri.
  10. ^ See citation here Archived 2006-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. from his Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman World, implying Eisler lacked in self-critical acumen.

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