Theology And The University In Nineteenth-Century Germany

The history of modern German theology is dominated by two figures, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) and G. F. W. Hegel (1770–1831) but there is more to the story. If Schleiermacher and Hegel formed the skeleton, a series of lesser-known figures and institutions formed the sinews of nineteenth-century German theology. What happened when the leading figures in a nation’s great universities rejected Christianity as historically understood, when they sought to adapt it to the demands of “Enlightenment”? What hath Christian theology to do with Wissenschaft and the encyclopedia movement sponsored by the German Enlightenment? What was “mediating theology” (Vermittlungstheologie)? How did the Napoleonic Wars change the fortunes of the German university and theology in the 19th century? These are some of the questions Purvis’ new volume explores.

Zachary Purvis (DPhil., Oxford), a Fulbright Award winning graduate of Westminster Seminary California (MA Historical Theology), has published a well-written, engaging, and carefully researched account of German theology and theological education in the 19th century: Theology and the University in Nineteenth-Century Germany (OUP, 2016).  For those who would learn what happened to German theology after the Reformation, in the wake of Pietism, and before Barth, this is a wonderful starting place.

An outstanding young scholar, with a remarkable record of refereed publications (e.g., Church HistoryZeitschrift für neuere TheologiegeschichteReligious Studies Review) Zack is currently doing post-doctoral work in Scotland on the production of the Corpus Reformatorum, the nineteenth-century collection of the works of Melanchthon, Calvin, and Zwingli.

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  1. Here’s another excellent book on that general subject: “The Tubingen School: A Historical and Theological Investigation of the School of F. C. Bauer”; reprint (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990), xxvii + 288pp. Originally published by Oxford University Press in 1975.

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