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Ferdinand Christian Baur

Ferdinand Christian Baur

The German theologian Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860) combined historical, philosophical, and linguistic approaches in his pioneering work on the history and philosophy of Christianity. He and his followers are known as the Tübingen school of theology.

Ferdinand Christian Baur, the son of a Protestant minister and dean of the theological seminary at Blaubeuren, was born at Schmiden, near Stuttgart, on June 21, 1792. He received his early schooling at Blaubeuren and attended the University of Tübingen from 1809 to 1814. After serving as country vicar and teacher, he was professor of theology at Blaubeuren from 1817 until 1826.

Influenced by B.G. Niebuhr's history of Rome, Baur became involved in the study of ancient history and the history of religion. This led to his first major work, Symbolism and Mythology, or the Nature Religion of Antiquity (3 vols., 1824-1825), and to his appointment as professor of theology at Tübingen in 1826. There he settled down to a life of teaching, preaching, and scholarship.

In 1833 Baur published Contrast between Catholicism and Protestantism according to the Principles and Main Dogmas of the Two Teachings. This work criticized attempts to polarize the differences between Catholic and Protestant dogma. In it Baur also presented for the first time one of his most important concepts—the distinction between the Petrine (Jewish-Christian) and Pauline (Gentile-Christian) interpretations of early Christian development. This concept was expanded in his famous Christian Gnosticism (1835).

Baur's studies during the 1830s and early 1840s culminated in the important Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi (2 vols., 1845) and in the Textbook of the History of Christian Dogma (1847). In Paulus Baur established a new chronology of St. Paul's New Testament writings. He recognized only the Epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans as genuinely Pauline. He attributed the writings on Paul in Acts of the Apostles to a later Paulinist writer who attempted to overcome Petrine-versus-Pauline party differences in the early Church. Continuing study of the literary sources of the Gospels led to the publication of Critical Investigations concerning the Canonical Gospels (1847), in which the Petrine and Pauline differentiation was further developed.

During the last decade of his life Baur published three volumes of his projected five-volume church history. The last two volumes were compiled from his lectures and were published posthumously. Baur died on Dec. 2, 1860, at Tübingen, having suffered a stroke during a meeting of the Academic Senate. He was one of the most dedicated and fruitful scholars of his time, and his major contribution was the freeing of Protestant theology from the fetters of supranatural and pietistic conservatism.

Further Reading

The most up-to-date study on Baur in English is Peter C. Hodgson, The Formation of Historical Theology: A Study of Ferdinand Christian Baur (1966). A modern translation by P.C. Hodgson, ed., Ferdinand Christian Baur on the Writing of Church History (1968), contains a lengthy and useful introduction to Baur and his work. □

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Baur, Ferdinand Christian

Baur, Ferdinand Christian (1792–1860). German Protestant theologian, who was Professor of Theology at Tübingen from 1826 to his death, and founded the ‘Tübingen school’. Influenced by F. D. E. Schleiermacher and by G. W. F. Hegel's understanding of history, he saw conflict and synthesis as the key to understanding early Christianity. So, e.g. in his controversial work on Paul (1845; Eng. tr. 1873–5), he held that only the letters reflecting his lifelong opposition to the older disciples (viz., Galatians, 1–2 Corinthians, Romans) were authentic. He applied similar historical criticism to the development of Christian doctrines, especially the atonement, Trinity, and incarnation.

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Baur, Ferdinand Christian

Ferdinand Christian Baur (fĕr´dĬnänt krĬs´tēän bour), 1792–1860, German Protestant theologian. He was from 1826 on the theological faculty of Tübingen. He became convinced of Hegel's philosophy of history and studied Christian history and doctrines and the Bible from that point of view. In New Testament criticism he rejected the authenticity of most of the books, using philosophical and literary criteria. His methods and disciples were referred to as the Tübingen School.

See study by P. C. Hodgson (1966) and J. Fitzer (1974).

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Baur, Ferdinand Christian

BAUR, FERDINAND CHRISTIAN

German Protestant ecclesiastical historian and founder of the new tÜbingen school; b. Schmiden, near Stuttgart, June 21, 1792; d. Tübingen, Dec. 2, 1860. After studying at Tübingen, he taught at Blaubeuren (181726) and then spent the remainder of his life at Tübingen as professor of historical theology (182660). At first Baur seems to have been a disciple of the more "orthodox" Tübingen school, but his convictions concerning its positions were shaken by his study of schleiermacher's Glaubenslehre. The radical change that came over his thought, however, depended much more on hegel's philosophy of religion. As a result Baur developed along Hegelian lines a theory of the history of the primitive Church. According to this theory, there existed in apostolic times two sharply divided factions, personified in St. Peter and St. Paul. These two groups differed on the doctrine of justification and on the nature of the Church's polity. During the 2d and 3d centuries a "synthesis" evolved from these two factions, thereby producing Catholicism. This theory also led Baur to reject the apostolic origin of most of the New Testament canon. Thus he claimed to perceive this compromise, indicative of a later date of composition, in all the Pauline Epistles except Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, which alone Baur admitted as Pauline in origin. Baur participated later in the controversy surrounding the work of David strauss concerning the synoptic problem. Among his numerous writings were Die christliche Lehre von der Versöhnung in ihrer geschichtliche Entwicklung (1838) ; Die christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und der Menschenwerdung Gottes (3 v. 184143); Lehrbuch der christliche Dogmengeschichte (1847); Paulus der Apostel Jesu Christi (1845, Eng. tr. 187375); and Geschichte der christlichen Kirche (5 v. 185363). Only two volumes of the last work appeared during Baur's lifetime. The first volume was translated into English as Church History of the First Three Centuries (2 v. 1878).

Bibliography: f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 142143. j. schmid, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 195765) 2:7273. h. schmidt and j. haussleiter, in j. j. herzog and a. hauck, eds., Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie (Leipzig 18961913) 2:467483, with complete list of Baur's writings. m. tetz, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 1:935938.

[m. b. schepers]

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