EWALD, GEORG HEINRICH AUGUST: Orientalist and Biblical scholar; b. at Göttingen Nov. 16, 1803; d. there May 4, 1875. His father was a cloth-weaver. Having been thoroughly prepared in the gymnasium of his native town, he studied classical philology, Orientalia, and theology at its university. After spending two years as teacher in the gymnasium at Wolfenbüttel, he returned to Göttingen in 1824 as repetent in the theological faculty. In 1827 he became extraordinary professor; ordinary professor in 1831; in 1833, member of the Society of Sciences; in 1835, titular professor of Oriental languages and member of the honorary faculty. In 1836 he was made doctor of theology by the faculty of Copenhagen. Notwithstanding his extensive professorial activity he found time for ample production. Besides works on the Hebrew and Arabic languages, the most important of which is the Lehrbuch der hebräischen Sprache des alten Bundes (5th ed., Leipsic, 1844; Eng. transl., from the 2d ed., London, 1836; of part iii.--syntax--from the 8th ed., Edinburgh, 1879), there may be mentioned in this period, Commentarius in apokalypsin Johannis (1828) and Die poetischen Bücher des alten Bundes (4 parts, Göttingen, 1835-1839). He contributed also to several periodicals. These works are the product of strictly scientific researches, careful and at the same time generously proportioned. Ewald's importance was conceded willingly, and his renown was large. But this fortunate season had a sudden check; in 1837 he was dismissed from his public position because, with some of his colleagues, he had addressed a memorial to the board of university regents in Hanover, expostulating against the arbitrary repeal, by act of King Ernst August, of the liberal constitution of 1833.
After sojourning four months in England, Ewald accepted a call to Tübingen, where he worked until 1848 as professor, first in the philosophical, subsequently in the theological faculty. His productive activity during this period was confined mainly to the Biblical sciences. Among other works he issued Die Propheten des Alten Bundes (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1840-41; Eng. transl., 5 vols., London, 1875-81); Geschichte des Volkes Israel (7 vols., Göttingen, 1843-59; Eng. transl., of vols. i.-iv., 5 vols., London, 1867-74), a work of permanent value on account of its careful use of the sources. His dismissal from Göttingen having been hailed as an event of political consequence, Ewald unfortunately felt himself prompted to publish impassioned polemical writings, which embittered him personally, and drove him to a morbidly exaggerated estimation of himself. His irritability also injured him with his Tübingen colleagues, among whom he especially antagonized F. C. Baur, with both spoken and written vehemence.
In 1848 Ewald, at his own request, was reinstated at Göttingen. From this time forth he labored particularly upon the New Testament writings, in express opposition to Baur and Strauss. He occupied himself especially with pseudepigraphy, proceeding from foundations laid by his earlier investigations. His comprehensive scholarship is faithfully reflected in his Jahrbücher der biblischen Wissenschaft (12 vols., Göttingen, 1849-65). Unhappily his sensitiveness and testiness continually increased. He interfered in every event of state and church life, and published his views thereon in prefaces and postscripts to his books. He had taken part in founding the Protestant Union (q.v.) in 1863; nevertheless he subsequently withdrew from the same, on failing to carry through a manifesto that he had planned against the Prussian government. His sharp expressions of opinion in political affairs had already brought him into repeated conflict with the government. When in 1867 he refused the oath of allegiance to the king of Prussia, his removal from the philosophical faculty was effected by a ministerial rescript. Through subsequent utterances he also forfeited, in 1868, the right of delivering lectures. From 1869 he represented, in the Imperial Diet, the capital city of Hanover. Not even the victories of German arms in 1870-71, and the restoration of the Empire, prevailed to efface his bitterness in the political domain. Yet with all this he continued a diligent laborious scholar, and still published extensive works; in particular, Die Bücher des Neuen Bundes übersetzt und erkärt (Göttingen, 1871-72), and Die Theologie des Alten und Neuen Bundes (4 vols., Leipsic, 1871-1876). The latter work contains--with rather tedious exposition, it is true--his aggregate view of Biblical religion.