DAVID FRIEDRICH STRAUSS (German: Strauß ; January 27, 1808 in
* 1 Early life * 2 Das Leben Jesu * 3 Interlude (1841–1860) * 4 Later works * 5 Critique * 6 Works * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 Further reading * 11 External links
Born and died in
In 1825 Strauss entered the
University of Tübingen
In October 1831, Strauss resigned his office to study under
Schleiermacher and Hegel in Berlin. Hegel died just as he arrived, and
though Strauss regularly attended Schleiermacher's lectures, it was
only those on the life of Jesus that interested him. Strauss tried to
find kindred spirits among the followers of Hegel but was not
successful. While under the influence of Hegel's distinction between
Vorstellung and Begriff, Strauss had already conceived the ideas found
in his two principal theological works: Das Leben Jesu (Life of Jesus)
and Christliche Glaubenslehre (Christian Dogma). Hegelians generally
would not accept his conclusions. In 1832, Strauss returned to
Tübingen, lecturing on logic ,
Since the Hegelians in general rejected his Life of Jesus, Strauss
defended his work in a booklet, Streitschriften zur Verteidigung
meiner Schrift uber das Leben Jesu und zur Charakteristik der
gegenwärtigen Theologie (Tübingen: E. F. Osiander, 1837), which was
finally translated into English by Marilyn Chapin Massey and published
under the title In Defense of My 'Life of Jesus' Against the Hegelians
(Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1983). The famous scholar
DAS LEBEN JESU
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Strauss's Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus,
Critically Examined) was a sensation. While not denying that Jesus
existed, Strauss did argue that the miracles in the New Testament were
mythical additions with little basis in actual fact. Carl August
Eschenmayer wrote a review in 1835 called "The Iscariotism of our
days," a review which Strauss characterised as 'the offspring of the
legitimate marriage between theological ignorance and religious
intolerance, blessed by a sleep-walking philosophy.' The Earl of
Shaftesbury called the 1846 translation by Marian Evans "the most
pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell." When Strauss
was elected to a chair of theology in the
University of Zürich
What made Das Leben Jesu so controversial was Strauss's characterization of the miraculous elements in the gospels as being "mythical" in character. In analysing the Bible in terms of self-coherence and paying attention to numerous contradictions, he rejected the actuality of the stories as "happenings" and read them solely on a mythic level. According to Strauss, the early church developed these miracle stories in order to present Jesus as the Messiah of the Jewish prophecies. This perspective was in opposition to the prevailing views of the time: rationalism , which explained the miracles as credulous misinterpretations of non-supernatural events, and the supernaturalist view that the biblical accounts were entirely accurate.
Strauss's Das Leben Jesu closed a period during which biblical scholars divided and wrestled over the "miraculous" nature of the New Testament. The "rationalists", deriving their views from the principles of the Enlightenment , found logical, rational explanations for apparently miraculous occurrences. In contrast, the "supernaturalists" defended not only the historical accuracy of the biblical accounts, but also the implicit and explicit claims of direct divine intervention. Strauss's third way, in which the miracles are explained as myths created by early Christians to express their developing conception of Jesus, heralded a new epoch in the textual and historical treatment of the rise of Christianity.
In 1840 and the following year Strauss published his On Christian Doctrine (Christliche Glaubenslehre) in two volumes. The main principle of this new work was that the history of Christian doctrines has basically been the history of their disintegration.
With the publication of his Christliche Glaubenslehre, Strauss took leave of theology for over twenty years. In August 1841, he married Agnese Schebest (1813–1869), a cultivated and beautiful mezzo-soprano of high repute as an opera singer. Five years afterwards, after two children had been born, they divorced.
Strauss resumed his literary activity by the 1847 publication in
In 1848 he was nominated a member of the
Strauss returned to theology in 1862, when he published a biography of H. S. Reimarus . Two years later in 1864, he published the Life of Jesus for the German People (Das Leben Jesu für das deutsche Volk bearbeitet) (13th ed., 1904). It failed to produce an effect comparable to that of the first Life, but it garnered numerous critical responses, which Strauss answered in his pamphlet Die Halben und die Ganzen (1865), directed specially against Daniel Schenkel (1813–1885) and Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg (1802–1869).
His The Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History (Der Christus des
Glaubens und der Jesus der Geschichte) (1865) is a severe criticism of
Schleiermacher's lectures on the life of Jesus, which were then first
published. From 1865 to 1872 Strauss lived in
J. F. Smith characterized Strauss's mind as almost exclusively
analytical and critical, without depth of religious feeling or
philosophical penetration, or historical sympathy; his work being
accordingly rarely constructive. Smith found Strauss to strikingly
His theory,—that the Christ of the Gospels, excepting the most meagre outline of personal history, was the unintentional creation of the early Christian Messianic expectation,—Strauss applied with merciless rigour to the Gospel narratives. Smith felt Strauss's operations were based upon fatal defects, positive and negative, and that Strauss held a narrow theory as to the miraculous, a still narrower as to the relation of the divine to the human, and he had no true idea of the nature of historical tradition.
Smith notes that
F. C. Baur
According to Peter C. Hodgson and James C. Livingston, David Strauss was the first one to raise the question about Jesus's historical character and open the way to separate Jesus from the Christian faith. In Strauss's "Life of Jesus", he disagreed with the previous ideas that historical Jesus can be easily reconstructed in conjunction with New Testament Manuscripts. Strauss pointed out that Christian tradition is fundamentally mythical, and that while he did not claim that there are no historical facts in the sources, there is too little evidence to reconstruct the historical image of Jesus to serve the Christian faith. Raising critical questions about Jesus's historical image made Strauss an important figure in the field of theology.
One of the more controversial interpretations that Strauss introduced to the understanding of the historical Jesus, is his interpretation of Virgin Birth . In the Demythologization, Strauss's response was reminiscent of the German Rationalist movement in Protestant theology. According to Strauss, Jesus' Virgin Birth was added to the biography of Jesus as a legend in order to honor him in the way that Gentiles honored great historical figures. However, Strauss believed that the greater honor for Christ would have been to omit the Virgin Birth anecdote and to recognize Joseph as his legitimate father.
It has been claimed that Strauss's popularity was due as much to his clear and captivating style as to the logical force of his arguments.
All of Strauss's works—save Christliche Glaubenslehre—were
published in a collected edition in 12 volumes by
* Adam Karl August von
Eschenmayer — his work Der Ischariotismus
unserer Täge is a critique directed against Strauss
* "David Strauss: the Confessor and the Writer " — Nietzsche's
critique of Strauss
* ^ www.britannica.com
* ^ A B Gilman, D. C. ; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905).
"Strauss, David Friedrich".
New International Encyclopedia
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Strauss, David Friedrich".
* Zeller, David Friedrich Strauss in seinem Leben und seinen Schriften (1874) * Adolph Hausrath , D. F. Strauss und die Theologie seiner Zeit (2 vols., 1876–1878) * F. T. Vischer , Kritische Gänge (1844), vol. i * F. T. Vischer, Altes und Neues (1882), vol. iii * R. Gottschall , Literarische Charakterköpfe (1896), vol. iv * S. Eck, D. F. Strauss (1899) * K. Harraeus, D. F. Strauss, sein Leben und seine Schriften (1901) * T. Ziegler, D. F. Strauss (2 vols, 1908–1909)
* Azurmendi, Joxe : « Renan-Strauss » in Historia, arraza, nazioa, Donostia : Elkar, 2014. ISBN 978-84-9027-297-8