Bauer, Bruno°

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

BAUER, BRUNO°

BAUER, BRUNO° (1809–1882), German Protestant theologian, philosopher, and historian. He became influenced by the philosophy of Hegel while a student in Berlin, and because of radical criticism of the New Testament expressed in numerous works, was dismissed from his post as lecturer at Bonn in 1842. Bauer then returned to Berlin where he devoted himself to writing historical works and critical studies of the rise of Christianity. He also wrote on contemporary political issues, defending Prussian conservatism, and strongly opposed granting emancipation to the Jews in Germany. In his essay Die Judenfrage ("The Jewish Question," 1843), he stresses, like Hegel, the Oriental character of the "Jewish national spirit" (Volksgeist) which failed to comprehend the ideals of freedom and reason and saw its highest duty in fulfilling unreasonable ceremonies. In particular, Bauer attacked the representatives of Reform Judaism, who called for a return to a pure or purified "Mosaism." In his view, "pure Mosaism" was only possible in the land of Canaan, and only in a sovereign Jewish state. It was therefore impossible in contemporary circumstances. Bauer argued that the observance of Jewish laws made faith illusory and that Judaism was exclusive and unrealistic. As long as Jews were not ready to forsake their specific character, their emancipation was out of the question. The work gave rise to sharp controversy in which Abraham *Geiger, Gabriel *Riesser, Samuel *Hirsch, and Karl *Marx, among others, took part.

bibliography:

N. Rotenstreich, in: ylbi, 4 (1959); 3–36; Ẓ. Rosen, in: Zion, 33 (1968), 59–76; K. Marx, A World Without Jews (1959).

[Reuven Michael]