MAGNúS EIRíKSSON (22 June 1806 in Skinnalón
Due to his very critical attitude towards the church dogma,
especially the dogmas of the
* 1 Childhood and study of theology
* 2 Eiríksson’s relations to Martensen and Kierkegaard (1844-1850)
* 2.1 Eiríksson as an opponent of Martensen * 2.2 Eiríksson as an unwelcome ally of Kierkegaard
* 3 The periods of silence (1850–1863) and harsh criticism of Christian dogmatic theology (1863-74)
* 4 Selected bibliography
* 4.1 Main Works * 4.2 Secondary Literature on Eiríksson
* 5 Notes * 6 External links
CHILDHOOD AND STUDY OF THEOLOGY
EIRíKSSON’S RELATIONS TO MARTENSEN AND KIERKEGAARD (1844-1850)
EIRíKSSON AS AN OPPONENT OF MARTENSEN
Unlike to Clausen’s rationalism, Eiríksson was very critical to H.
L. Martensen’s speculative theology, which he violently attacked in
various publications from 1844 to 1850. His basic point was that faith
was based on reason, and “only that which can be accepted by reason
can and should be accepted by faith”. Martensen refused to become
involved in polemic with Eiríksson, and remained completely silent.
This silence so irritated Eiríksson that in 1847 he wrote a letter to
King Christian VII denouncing Martensen’s silence as “inexcusable,
dishonest and dishonorable” and demanding that Martensen be
relieved of his professorship at
EIRíKSSON AS AN UNWELCOME ALLY OF KIERKEGAARD
In his attack on speculative theology, and especially on Martensen’s, Eiríksson thought he had an ally in Søren Kierkegaard and Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846) supported him in this claim. Kierkegaard, however, vigorously protested against this “unauthorized acknowledgment” of his writings by “that raging Roland” and accused Eiríksson of attributing to him motives of which there is not a trace in the book. Regarding Eiríksson’s efforts to get Martensen dismissed, Kierkegaard comments: “And with the violence and force of the Devil he has involved my ‘Concluding Unscientific Postscript’ in his … campaign. … I do not know either whether M.E. has read the book. But if he has read it, I do know that he has absolutely, mendaciously and presumptuously misunderstood it” In 1850 Eiríksson published pseudonymously his book Er Troen et Paradox og ‘i Kraft af det Absurde’? where he criticized Kierkegaard’s account of faith. Eiríksson declared that faith must not be made into a paradox, for “when faith is genuine and strong, it has its firm base and deep root in the immediate intellectual faculty in man, which we call reason.” Faith understood as a paradox “annuls and destroys all independent thought.” In his (albeit unpublished) answer to Theophilus Nicolaus, alias Eiríksson, Kierkegaard claims that Eiríksson has completely misunderstood his works and quite overlooked their main concern. In his zeal to prove that faith was not in any way a paradox, Eiríksson – according to Kierkegaard – had lost Christianity: “Both the paradox and Christianity, jointly and separately, vanished completely”. Therefore instead of inviting Kierkegaard to “take up that matter of the paradox” again, Eiríksson should himself first take up Christianity which, in his zeal, he had lost.
THE PERIODS OF SILENCE (1850–1863) AND HARSH CRITICISM OF CHRISTIAN DOGMATIC THEOLOGY (1863-74)
With the exception of a few articles Eiríksson remained silent in the period 1850–1863. In these years he went through a spiritual crisis. He came to see clearly that the Church’s doctrine that God became man in and through Jesus Christ had to be rejected, for it would have the result of leading to the deification of man. German biblical criticism and, in particular, the influence of the Tübingen School caused him to break radically with Johannine and Pauline theology. In Jøder og Christne (1871) Eiríksson drew the ultimate conclusion and explained that Judaism, which in his terminology meant an immediate childlike trust in God, was the only true religion. Jesus had only wanted to purify Judaism, and it is to purified Judaism that we must return.
In the face of the continuing silence of "the professionals", a number of laypeople with religious interests, such as the religious author Andreas Daniel Pedrin (1823–1891) and the postal supervisor and author Jørgen Christian Theodor Faber (1824–1886), felt called to take a public stand against Eiríksson’s views. In Denmark, on the whole, Eiríksson’s late writings provoked a wide spectrum of reactions. These ranged in tone from radical rejection at one extreme, to open professions of sympathy for Eiríksson and his message at the other end. In his native Iceland, however, Eiríksson’s reception was almost uniformly harsh. There his much-discussed book The Gospel of John (1863) sparked fierce controversy: not only theologians like Sigurður Melsteð (1819–1895), but also the Catholic priests Jean-Baptiste Baudoin (1831–1875) and Bernard Bernard (1821–1895) felt compelled to take a stand against him. In Sweden, by contrast, Eiríksson’s thought found more fertile soil—thanks above all to the "freethinking pastor" Nils Johan Ekdahl (1799–1870), who translated two of Eiríksson’s books into Swedish. It is not by chance that, in 1877, Eiríksson’s final publications appeared in Swedish newspapers and periodicals–most prominently in the journal Sanningssökaren .
Had Eiríksson's supporters and friends not arranged a modest annuity
to supplement his state pension, Eiríksson would surely have suffered
acute financial distress during his final years. In mid-1878,
Eiríksson was even provided with funds to make a brief return to
Iceland, but his failing health made such a visit impossible. After
his death on July 3, 1881, at
* Om Baptister og Barnedaab ,
SECONDARY LITERATURE ON EIRíKSSON
* Magnús Eiríksson. A Forgotten Contemporary of Kierkegaard, ed.
by Gerhard Schreiber and Jon Stewart, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum
Press 2017 (478 pp.) (Danish Golden Age Studies, vol. 10) ISBN
* Eiríkur Albertsson, Magnús Eiríksson, guðfræði hans og
trúarlíf (doctoral dissertation), Reykjavík 1938.
* Stephen Hole Fritchman, Men of Liberty. Ten Unitarian Pioneers.
With illustr. by Hendrik Willem van Loon, Boston 1944, pp. 163–180.
* Emanuel Skjoldager, "An Unwanted Ally: Magnus Eiriksson," in:
Bibliotheca Kierkegaardiana, vol. 12 (1983), pp. 102–108
* Jóhanna Þráinsdóttir, "Er trúin þverstæða? Gagnrýni
Magnúsar Eiríkssonar á trúarskoðunum Kierkegaards í 'Ugg og
ótta'," in: Tímarit Máls og menningar, vol. 61 (2000), pp. 35–45.
* Gerhard Schreiber, "Eiríksson, Magnús," in:
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, vol. 28 (2007), pp.
* Gerhard Schreiber, "Ist der Glaube ein Paradox und “kraft des
Absurden”? – Kierkegaards Auseinandersetzung mit Magnús
Eiríksson," in: Kierkegaard and Faith, ed. by Roman Králik (et al.),
Barcelona, Nitra, Málaga, Mexico City 2008, pp. 34-47.
* David D. Possen, "On Kierkegaard’s
* ^ See e.g. Ágúst H. Bjarnason, "Magnus Eiriksson, the first
Icelandic Unitarian" (Lecture at Harvard Divinity School, May 21,
1923; handwritten manuscript); Stephen H. Fritchman, Men of Liberty.
Ten Unitarian Pioneers, Boston 1944 , pp. 163-180; Thorvald
Kierkegaard, Magnus Eiriksson og Mary B. Westenholz. To Forkæmpere
for Unitarismen i Danmark,
* Art. "Magnús Eiríksson," in: Dansk Biographisk Lexikon by H. Schwanenflügel (Danish) * Gerhard Schreiber (2007). "Eiríksson, Magnús". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 28. Nordhausen: Bautz. cols. 517–538. ISBN 978-3-88309-413-7 . * Ágúst H. Bjarnason, “Magnus Eiriksson, the first