Liturgist and Orientalist; b. Constance, Aug. 4, 1872;d. Bonn, May 31, 1948. As inheritor of physical and spiritual gifts from his father, Reinhold Baumstark, Anton showed extraordinary versatility in an age of extreme specialization. A married layman, he devoted his rich energies to scholarship. He was knowledgeable in literature, philology, theology, and religious and art history, both classical and Oriental. One of the few arts he failed to master was that of German style; his style was difficult to follow as a result of this.
In 1901 at Rome he began the journal Oriens Christianus with Anton de waal, and with but a short interruption edited it through 36 volumes. None of its issues appeared without a significant contribution from him. Into its pages he poured the results of his unique comprehensive grasp of the culture of the Mediterranean Basin. The journal stands as the most important monument of his life of scholarship. In the same field he published the Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn 1922).
With Odo casel, he began the Jahrbuch für Liturgiewissenschaft ; to this he brought unusual qualifications. Since worship was the center of ancient culture, and Baumstark was by nature a very religious person, he made the study of the evolution of worship, especially the historical development of Christian liturgy, the object of his predilection. Although his ingenious hypotheses did not always prove to be correct, he nevertheless greatly stimulated research, and his own insights and discoveries have made irreplaceable contributions to liturgical scholarship. The results of the method of comparative liturgy, which Baumstark himself worked out, were published in Liturgie comparée [Chevetogne 1940; Comparative Liturgy (London 1958)]. He traced the laws of all liturgical evolution in Vom geschichtlichen Werden der Liturgie (Freiburg 1923). In numerous articles (his published works number 546) he tried to determine the exact relations of the Christian liturgy to the Jewish and Hellenistic world.
In keeping with his broad and profound knowledge, Baumstark taught at several centers of learning: classical and Oriental philology at the University of Heidelberg (1898), early Christian Oriental civilization at the University of Bonn (1921–30), Semitic languages and comparative liturgy at the University of Nijmegen (1923), the science of Islam and Arabic languages at the University of Utrecht (1926), and Oriental studies at the University of Münster (1930–35).
During his last years, Baumstark led an increasingly isolated life because of his involvement in Nazism; he was, unfortunately, naive in political matters. He nevertheless remained constantly devoted to scholarship and to the Church and her liturgy.
Bibliography: t. klauser, Ephemerides liturgicae 63 (Rome 1949) 185–187. h. e. killy, Ephemerides liturgicae 63 (Rome 1949) 187–207, contains complete list of his works. g. graf, "Zum Geleit und zum Andenken an Anton Baumstark und Adolf Rücker," Oriens Christianus 37 (Leipzig-Wiesbaden 1953) 1–5. r. taft, "Comparative Liturgy Fifty Years after Anton Baumstark (d.1948): A Reply to Recent Critics," Worship 73 (1999) 521–540. f. west, The Comparative Liturgy of Anton Baumstark (Bramcote, Nottingham, 1995).