V FULLY DEVELOPED RATIONALISM—PAULUS
|November 24, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter five||
FULLY DEVELOPED RATIONALISM—PAULUS
Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus. Das Leben Jesu als Grundlage einer reinen Geschichte des Urchristentums. Heidelberg, C. F. Winter. (The Life of Jesus as the Basis of a purely Historical Account of Early Christianity.) 1828. 2 vols., 1192 pp.
Freut euch mit Gottesandacht, wenn es gewahrt euch ist,
Dem, so kurz er war, weltumschaffenden Lebensgang
Nach Jahrhunderten fern zu folgen,
Denket, glaubet, folget des Vorbildes Spur!
(Closing words of vol. ii.)
(Rejoice with grateful devotion, if unto you ’tis permitted,
After the lapse of centuries, still to follow afar off
That Life which, short as it was, changed the course of the ages;
Think ye well, and believe; follow the path of our Pattern.)
PAULUS WAS NOT THE MERE DRY-AS-DUST RATIONALIST THAT HE IS USUALLY represented to have been, but a man of very versatile abilities. His limitation was that, like Reinhard, he had an unconquerable distrust of anything that went outside the boundaries of logical thought. That was due in part to the experiences of his youth. His father, a deacon in Leonberg, half-mystic, half-rationalist, had secret difficulties about the doctrine of immortality, and made his wife promise on her death-bed that, if it were possible, she would appear to him after her death in bodily form. After she was dead he thought he saw her raise herself to a sitting posture, and again sink down. From that time onwards he firmly believed himself to be in communication with departed spirits, and he became so dominated by this idea that in 1771 he had to be removed from his office. His children suffered sorely from a régime of compulsory spiritualism, which pressed hardest upon Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob, born in 1761, who, for the sake of peace, was obliged to pretend to his father that he was in communication with his mother’s spirit.
He himself had inherited only the rationalistic side of his father’s temperament. As a student at the Tübingen Stift (theological institute) he formed his views on the writings of Semler and Michaelis. In 1789 he was called to Jena as Professor of Oriental Languages, and succeeded in 1793 to the third ordinary professorship of theology. The naturalistic interpretation of miracles which he upheld in his commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, published in 1800-1802, aroused the indignation of the consistories of Meiningen and Eisenach. But their petition for his removal from the professorship was unsuccessful, since Herder, who was president of the consistorium, used his influence to protect him. In 1799 Paulus, as Pro-rector, used his influence on behalf of his colleague Fichte, who was attacked on the ground of atheism; but in vain, owing to the passionate conduct of the accused.
With Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland, Paulus and his wife, a lively lady of some literary talents, stood in the most friendly relations.
When the Jena circle began to break up, he accepted, in 1803, an invitation from the Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph II., to go to Würzburg as Konsistorialrat and professor. There the liberal minister, Montgelas, was desirous of establishing a university founded on the principles of illuminism—Schelling, Hufeland, and Schleiermacher were among those whom he contemplated appointing as Docents. Here the Catholic theological students were obliged to attend the lectures of the Protestant professor of theology, as there were no Protestants to form an audience. His first course was on “Encyclopädie” (i.e. introduction to the literature of theology).
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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