Theological Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German Nation
|November 17, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter twelve||
Gfrörer thus works into Venturini’s plan a quantity of material drawn from Philo. His first volume would have led one to expect a more original and scientific result. But the author is one of those “epileptics of criticism” for whom criticism is not a natural and healthy means of arriving at a result, but who, in consequence of the fits of criticism to which they are subject, and which they even endeavour to intensify, fall into a condition of exhaustion, in which the need for some fixed point becomes so imperative that they create it for themselves by selfsuggestion— as they previously did their criticism—and then flatter themselves that they have really found it.
This need for a fixed point carried the former rival of Strauss into Catholicism, for which his “General History of the Church” (1841-1846) already shows a strong admiration. After the appearance of this work Gfrörer became Professor of History in the University of Freiburg. In 1848 he was active in the German Parliament in endeavouring to promote a reunion of the Protestants with the Catholics. In 1853 he went over to the Roman Church. His family had already gone over, at Strassburg, during the revolutionary period. In the conflict of the church with the Baden Government he vehemently supported the claims of the Pope. He died in 1861.
Incomparably better and more thorough is the attempt to write a Life of Jesus embodied in the “Theological Letters to the Cultured Classes of the German Nation.” Their writer takes Gfrörer ‘s studies as his startingpoint, but instead of spiritualising unjustifiably he ventures to conceive the Jewish world of thought in which Jesus lived in its simple realism. He was the first to place the eschatology recognised by Strauss and Reimarus in an historical setting—that of Venturini’s plan—and to write a Life of Jesus entirely governed by the idea of eschatology.
The author, Friedrich Wilhelm Ghillany, was born in 1807 at Erlangen. His first studies were in theology. His rationalistic views, however, compelled him to abandon the clerical profession. He became librarian at Nuremberg in 1841 and engaged in controversial writing of an antiorthodox character, but distinguished himself also by historical work of outstanding merit. A year after the publication of the “Theological Letters.” which he issued under the pseudonym of Richard von der Alm, he published a collection of “The Opinions of Heathen and Christian Writers of the first Christian Centuries about Jesus Christ” (1864), a work which gives evidence of a remarkable range of reading. In 1855 he removed to Munich in the hope of obtaining a post in the diplomatic service, but in spite of his solid acquirements he did not succeed. No one would venture to appoint a man of such outspoken anti-ecclesiastical views. He died in 1876.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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