MICHAELIS, JOIIAJSN DAVID, one of the most eminent and learned biblical scholars of the 18th c.,was b. on Feb. 27, 1717, at IIalle, where his father, Christian Benedict Michaelis, a theologian and orientalist of some distinction, was a professor. After com pletin7 his studies at his native university lie traveled in Eng-land and Holland, where he made the acauaintance of several celebrated scholars. In 1745 he became a professor of philosophy at Gottingen, and took an active part in the formation of a scientific asso ciation there. From 1753 to 1770 he was one of the editors of the Glittinger gelehrtea An:droll, and for some years he filled the office of librarian to the university. During the seven years' war he was occupied in making preparations for an expedition of dis covery in A.rabia, which was afterwards made by Niebuhr. In the latter years of his life he was almost always in the professorial chair or at his desk He died on Aug. 22, 1791. 3Iichaelis was IL man of vast attainments in history and arclueology, and his labors were ,of great importance la the departments of biblical. exegesis and history. Ile may ho
regarded as among the earliest of the critical school of German theologians, but he lived at too early a period to acquire anything like a consistent or systematic theory of the gene sis of the Hebrew Scriptures. He loved to rationalize in details, and was never quite certain what to think about inspiration; at all events, he seeks constantly to prove how thoroughly human the Mosaic legislation was, though he does not exactly deny its claims to being considered a Divine revelation. Many of his pupils became professors, and disseminated his principles through the German universities.
Michaelis's chief works are,his Einleitung in die Gottlichen Schriften des Neuen Bundes (2 vols. GOtt. 1750; English by bishop Marsh); his Mosaisch,es Becht (6 vols. Frankf. 1770-75; English by Dr. Alexander .Smith, 1814); and his Moral (3 vols. Gott. 1792– 1823). See his Lebensbeschreibung von Ihm Selbst Abgefasst (Rinteln und Leip. 1793).