Catholic theologian; b. Lindenau in (what is today) Czechoslovakia, Nov. 17, 1783; d. Vienna, Feb. 24, 1863. His parents were staunch Catholics and quite poor. He attended the village school of Lindenau, secondary schools in Haide and Leitmeritz, and the University of Prague (until 1809). As a student he was frequently obliged to support himself by tutoring children. He was versed in the writings of such philosophers as Descartes, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. At one time he experienced difficulties about his faith, but these were dispelled by his reading of Sacred Scripture and by his association with (St.) Clement hofbauer, among others. Subsequently he completed legal studies. Then he undertook the study of theology, and in 1820 he was ordained.
For two years (1822–24) Günther was a Jesuit novice. Leaving the Jesuits, he settled in Vienna for the remainder of his life. He devoted himself to tutoring, assisting in the care of souls, acting as government censor of philosophical and juridical books (until 1848), and writing. His works include the following: Vorschule zur spekulativen Theologie des positiven Christenthums (1828–29), Süd-und Nordlichter am Horizont spekulativer Theologie (1832), Der letzte Symboliker (1834), Thomas a Scrupulis (1835), Die Juste-Milieus in der deutschen Philosophie gegenwärtiger Zeit (1838), and Eurysthesus und Herakles (1843). In addition, he produced a number of books in collaboration with others, as well as articles and book reviews.
In the course of his life, Günther received invitations to join the faculties of such universities as Munich, Bonn, and Breslau, but he refused these, possibly because he hoped to obtain a professorial chair in Vienna, a hope that was never realized. His influence in German theological circles was widespread during his lifetime, not only because of his writings, but also because his pupils occupied chairs in German universities. Nevertheless, Günther also experienced opposition to his theological point of view, especially from Redemptorist and Jesuit theologians. His writings were examined in Rome, and despite the efforts of his friends, some of whom even traveled to Rome, nine of his works were prohibited by the Congregation of the Index on Jan. 8, 1857 (see H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer 2828–31). The author announced his acceptance of the prohibition of those works Feb. 10, 1857.
See Also: semirationalism for Günther's views.
Bibliography: Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–), Tables générales 1:2005. p. wenzel, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 4:1276–78. g. maron, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3rd ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 2:1902–03. h. thurston, j. hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, 13 v. (Edinburgh 1908–27) 6:455–456. f. p. knoodt, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie (Leipzig 1875–1910) 10:146–167.
[e. j. gratsch]