Tübingen School

views updated May 23 2018


A group of 19th-century Protestant theologians, whose main interest was the New Testament and the nature of Christianity as described therein. The school's founder was F. C. baur (17921860), who had been formed in the Lutheran orthodox tradition that had flourished until then at the University of Tübingen. The movement's first élan came seemingly from Baur's Symbolik und Mythologie der Naturreligion des Altertums (182425), written from a viewpoint produced by contact with the thought of schleiermacher. The substance of the school's endeavors, however, consisted in the rigorous application of the ideas of hegel to the development to Christianity, especially that of the primitive Church. The thesis and antithesis, as conceived by Baur and his colleagues, were Petrine and Pauline Christianity, presented as radically opposed orientations. The Petrinists, according to this view, held a doctrine of justification by faith and the works of the Mosaic Law; while the Pauline faction insisted on justification by faith alone. Similar opposition existed in the area of church polity, according to the school, for the Petrine party wanted to model church government on the "hierarchical" structure of Judaism with the high priest at the summit; whereas the followers of St. Paul insisted on a synodal or presbyterian type of rule. According to this theory a synthesis (in the Hegelian sense) emerged gradually during the second and third centuries, when Catholicism came into existence.

The system further developed by sorting New Testament literature. Apostolic authenticity was denied to most books of the New Testament. St. Mark's Gospel was held to be the earliest of the Synoptics, although it was composed after the time of St. justin martyr. The criterion for such conclusions was the presence or absence of indications of compromise. Sharp polemic favoring the Petrine or the Pauline position was taken to indicate an early date. The most vigorous expression of this theorizing came from a member of the school, Albert Schwegler (181957), in his Nachapostolische Zeitalter (1846). David strauss (180874) was another prominent representative. Meanwhile another colleague, Eduard Zeller, had founded an organ to propagate the school's ideas, the Tübinger theologische Jahrbücher, (184257). In 1858 Adolf Hilgenfeld (18231907) began editing a continuation, the Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, which appeared regularly until 1914. By that time Tübingen had been completely eclipsed. ritschl, one of its early adherents, founded a school of his own, and it became widely accepted that the simplistic Hegelian interpretation of ecclesiastical history does not conform with historic reality. After reaching its peak of popularity and influence in the decade preceding 1850, the school declined rapidly in prestige.

Bibliography: r. w. mackay, The Tübingen School and its Antecedents (Hertford 1863). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1379. m. elze, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 6:106768. "Tübinger Schule," Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) v.10.

[m. b. schepers]

Tübingen School

views updated Jun 11 2018

Tübingen School. A group of scholars of early Christianity who were influential in the mid-19th cent. They were led by F. C. Baur and included E. Zeller, A. Hilgenfeld, A. Schwegler, and (for a time) A. Ritschl. In their view, influenced by Hegel's conception of history, the early church was divided into a Jewish party led by Peter and a gentile party led by Paul. The opposition of the two parties was resolved only in the ‘catholic’ synthesis of the 2nd cent., at which time the bulk of the New Testament was written. Baur's influence declined after the 1840s, and the work of A. Harnack and J. B. Lightfoot is usually said to have led to the abandonment of its positions.