Drey, Johann Sebastian von
DREY, JOHANN SEBASTIAN VON
Systematic theologian and historian of dogma, Catholic Tübingen school; b. Killingen, near Ellwangen, Germany, Oct. 16, 1777; d. Tübingen, Feb. 19, 1853. Drey began theology studies in Augsburg (1797–99) and was ordained in 1801, having entered the seminary in Pfaffenhausen. In 1806 he began to teach philosophy of religion, mathematics, and physics at the Catholic secondary school in Rottweil; in 1812 he became professor of apologetics, dogma, and history of dogma in the newly founded university at Ellwangen. When it was closed in 1817, he transferred to the University of Tübingen, where he taught until 1846. With P. Gratz, J. G. Herbst, and J. hirscher, he founded the Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift in 1819. Rome refused to approve the Württemberg government's designation of Drey as first bishop of Rottenburg in 1823.
As early as his first work, Entwurf zu meinen Vorlesungen aus der Physik (1806–13), Drey showed himself under the influence of the philosophy of F. schelling. The development of his thought and scholarship is well mirrored in his Mein Tagebuch über philosophische, theologische und historische Gegenstände (1812–17), which reveals Drey as a representative of Romantic thought (e.g., his organic conception of history and tradition, his theory of thesis and antithesis), again heavily dependent on Schelling. In his Revision des gegenwärtigen Zustandes der Theologie (1812) he attacked both the scholasticism and Enlightenment of the 16th to the 18th centuries along the lines of the new Romantic view of the Middle Ages; at the same time he sought to reassess medieval scholasticism, to which he claimed theology must constantly return "if it would discover its beginnings as a science." In his Geschichte des katholischen Dogmensystems (1812–13) Drey appears as a classical example of the 19th-century theory of the development of dogma; from that time forward this idea of dogmatic evolution as the organic unfolding of the seed planted by Christ became a substantial component of his doctrinal system. Essentially this component is a combination of B. Gular's notion on the "revealedness" of the doctrines of revelation and Schelling's philosophy of history. In the two last-mentioned works, as also in his "Vom Geist und Wesen des Katholizismus" [Theologische Quartalschrift (Tübingen 1819)], Drey was concerned with the concept of tradition as the organic, living unfolding of historically given revelation; this notion is especially important for him as the explanation for the inner continuity of Christianity. He claimed that in modern Catholicism, the primitive Christian fact (which was given in Jesus) is still present. The basis of this interpretation of Drey's was the organic concept of history proper to Romanticism (i.e., the notion of the historical as the uninterrupted persistence and development of the primal). see history and historicity; romanticism, philosophical.
Drey's Über den Satz der allein seligmachenden Kirche (1822) restates his theory of thesis and antithesis and precludes both interdenominational indifferentism and pointless polemic, because various denominations, said Drey, are the necessary opposite poles to the Church and as such are built into the plan of history by God's predestination (see history, theology of). Drey's most important work was Die Apologetik als wissenschaftliche Nachweisung der Göttlichkeit des Christentums (1838–47). Whereas Drey had initially joined schleier macher in assigning to apologetics the task of crystallizing the generic essence of Christianity, in this work he came to the conviction that the true task of apologetics was to create—on the basis of the concrete model of revelation within the Catholic Church—the basis for all disciplines treating of revelation (see fundamental theology). As for the foundations of religion, he opposed both the apriorism of the Enlightenment (i.e., his rejection of concrete historicity) and pure traditionalism (his rejection of an innate idea of God). Drey greatly influenced his pupils J. A. mÖhler, J. kuhn, F. A. Staudenmaier, A. Berlage, and F. X. dieringer. His ideas are still influential in theological discussion on the Church, on Scripture and tradition, and on related topics.
See Also: historiography, ecclesiastical
Bibliography: Works. Dissertatio historico-theologica de origine et vicissitudine exomologeseos in ecclesia catholica (Ellwangen 1815); Kurze Einleitung in das Studium der Theologie (Tübingen 1819); "Über den Satz der allein seligmachenden Kirche," Der Apologet des Katholizismus, ed. a. gratz, Heft 5 (Mainz 1822); Neue Untersuchungen über die Constitutionen und Kanones der Apostel (Tübingen 1832); Die Apologetik als wissenschaftliche Nachweisung der Göttlichkeit des Christentums, 3 v. (Mainz 1838–47; v.1–2, 2d ed. 1844–47). j. r. geiselmann, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 3:573–574, for unedited MSS. Literature. s. lÖsch, Die Anfänge der Tübinger Theologischen Quartalschrift (Rottenburg 1938). h. lohmann, Die Philosophie der Offenbarung bei J. S. von Drey (Diss. Freiburg 1953). w. ruf, J. S. von Dreys System der Theologie als Begründung der Moraltheologie (Diss. Freiburg 1958). f. laupheimer, Die kultisch-liturgischen Anschauungen J. S. Dreys (Diss. Tübingen 1959). h. j. brosch, Das Übernatürliche in der katholischen Tübinger Schule (Essen 1962), discussed by j. r. geiselmann, in Theologische Quartalschrift 143 (1963) 422–453. j. r. geiselmann, Geist des Christentums und des Katholizismus (Mainz 1940); Lebendiger Glaube aus geheiligter Überlieferung (Mainz 1942); Die katholische Tübinger Schule (Freiburg 1965); Theologische Quartalschrift 112 (1931) 88–89.