BAUR, FERDINAND CHRISTIAN, AND THE LATER TÜBINGEN SCHOOL.
The treatment of both Ferdinand Christian Baur and the Later Tübingen School in the same article is justified by the fact that the period of distinctive theological and philosophical views which characterized the school in its palmy days really ceased with the death of its founder, or at least lost the former local identification. Considering the Tübingen School in this strictly limited sense, its history, together with that of Baur himself, may be divided into three periods--that of preparation, or of the history of dogma, before 1835; that of prosperity, or of Biblical criticism, 1835-1848; and that of disintegration, or of church history, after the latter date.
I. The Period of the History of Dogma: Baur was born at Schmiden, near Cannstatt (4 m. n.e. of Stuttgart), June 21, 1792; he died at Tübingen Dec. 2, 1860. He was the son of a Württemberg pastor and was educated first at Blaubeuren and then (1809-14) at Tübingen. Here, besides following the usual thorough course in philology, he was strongly attracted by the study of philosophy. Fichte and Schelling were then at the height of their influence; but did not draw the young student away from the standpoint of the older Tübingen School (q.v.), in which he had been brought up, may be seen from his first published writing, a review of Kaiser's Biblisch Theologie in 1817, which condemned rationalistic caprice in the treatment of the Old Testament.
1. Baur's Early Life and Activity. After a short employment as tutor in the Tübingen seminary during the same year, he was named professor in the lower seminary which had grown out of his old school at Blaubeuren. The nine years of his stay here were active and happy ones. Though his work was mainly philological and historical, he showed his interest in the philosophical and theological movements of the time. The doctrines of Schleiermacher received his attention, and found an echo in his three-volume work Symbolik und Mythologie (Stuttgart, 1824-25). In this book, remarkable for its time, he indicated his future course in the phrase, "Without philosophy, history seems to me dumb and dead." The attention it attracted won Baur a place in the theological faculty of Tübingen on its reorganization (1826) after the death of his old teacher Bengel. His impressive and inspiring personality at once drew the young men to him, and his influence in the faculty was contested only by Dr. Steudel, the solo survivor of the old school body.
2. Baur's Relation to Schleiermacher and Hegel. The fact that in the course of his further intellectual development Baur gradually came into conflict with the theology of Schleiermacher may be partly explained by the difference in the mental constitutions of the two men. There was no trace in Baur's method of the fusion of sentiment and reason which characterized the other; only the intellectual side was allowed to be heard. His strong point was his faculty of conceiving historical phenomena objectively, amid the surroundings and from the standpoint of their age. His relation to the philosophy of Hegel is somewhat difficult to determine exactly; but it may be safely asserted that his fundamental views on the essence of religion and the course of history were taken from the Hegelian system. The transition from Schleiermacher to Hegel was a gradual process, which took place between 1826 and 1835, in the nine years which have been called the period of preparation. It is probable that at first Baur was unconscious of its extent, and it was not until he applied the Hegelian principles to the canon that they brought him into sharp conflict with traditional orthodoxy. His Symbolik was logically followed by his works on Manicheanism and Gnosticism (Tübingen, 1831 and 1832)--phenomena lying on the border between theology and philosophy, between Christianity and paganism. In his tractate on the opposition between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, in answer to Möhler (Tübingen, 1834), Hegelian terminology begins to appear distinctly, though the foundation still rests on Schleiermacher. The influence of the Hegelian system on Baur was a very fructifying one. No department of history had suffered more from the leveling tendency of rationalism than the history of dogma. Since Hegel had taught the application of the iron rule of development to the phenomena of the intellectual life as well as to other phenomena, he pointed the way to a profounder understanding of the beliefs which appeared frequently so haphazard and so arbitrary, to a knowledge of laws which prevailed over individual will. Thus, when Baur went on from the philosophy of religion to Christian dogma, and in that to the most important parts (the Atonement, Tübingen, 1838, the Trinity and the Incarnation, 1841-43), he became a pioneer of the history of dogma in the modern sense. Even though the Hegelian categories proved a bed of Procrustes for Christian dogmas, and though the understanding of these suffered from the defects of the Hegelian conception of religion, the impulse had none the less been given to a profounder study. More recent historians of dogma have felt themselves entitled to correct Baur's views, as set forth in the above-mentioned works, in almost every point; but these views had won him, by the end of this first period, a prominent place in the ranks of those who were trying to strike out new lines in the study of Christian history; and when Schleiermacher's chair at Berlin was vacant in 1834, the Prussian minister Altenstein thought for a time of appointing Baur to it.
II. The Period of Biblical Criticism: The second period, however, is the one which comes to mind when the Tübingen School is mentioned. Though certain books already named are of later date, the period may be properly begun with 1835, in which year Strauss's Leben Jesu drew general attention to the questions to which Baur was already inclined to turn. The application to the canon of Scripture of the Hegelian laws of historical development was peculiarly appropriate to the place in which Baur carried on his work, since the distinguishing mark of the older Tübingen School had been a Biblical supernaturalism, for which dogma was nothing more than the teachings of Scripture, arrived at by means of exegesis. He felt himself driven to a consideration of this question by the need of a settlement with the school from which he had sprung and with his own past; by his studies in the history of dogma, since the source of dogma, in the last resort, unless it is a mere collection of irresponsible opinions, is the Bible; and by his investigation of Gnosticism, which could not fail to raise the question of the canon.
1. Historico-Critical Study of the New Testament. In 1835 appeared (at Stuttgart and Tübingen) Baur's work on the Pastoral Epistles. According to his own account of this and of his article on the Corinthian parties (TZT, 1831), it was his lectures on the Epistle to the Corinthians which first opened up the vista of more far-reaching historico-critical investigation into the controversies of the apostolic age, and led him to follow out, by means of New Testament and patristic studies, his independent conception of the clash of heterogeneous elements in the apostolic and subapostolic days, their parties and tendencies, their conflicts and com- promises--to demonstrate the growth of a catholic Church as nothing but the result of a previous historical process. Dealing with Schleiemacher's treatment of I Timothy, he considered the three pastoral epistles from the same historical standpoint, and defined the task of New Testament criticism by asserting that the origin of such writings (as to the authenticity of which more evidence was needed than the accepted name of an author on their face and a vague, uncertain, and late tradition) could only be explained by a complete view of the whole range of historical circumstances in which, according to definite data, they were to be placed. With this character of historic objectivity, the new criticism, which naturally could not but seem merely negative and destructive in contrast with the unfounded assumptions that it controverted, intended to meet the arbitrary subjectivity of the hypotheses which had, up to that time, played so large a part in New Testament criticism. The above statement, substantially in Baur's own words, expresses fully the guiding principle of the Tübingen School. In the name of fidelity to fact, Baur was conducting a regular siege of the fortifications which had been thrown up by his own predecessors around the Christian doctrines, when Strauss's assault upon the central bastion attracted general attention. It was not without value to him as a diversion, under cover of which he was able to pursue undisturbed for a while longer his critical work. During the next decade the Tübingen School acquired an importance which seemed to threaten the foundations of dogma from a new quarter, relentlessly contrasting the accepted image of Christ, as drawn according to the subjective Christian mind by Schleiermacher, with the results of objective historical criticism. The main part of the task seemed to be left to Baur himself; he was not so fortunate as the leaders of the old Tübingen School who had their allies in the other theological chairs. On the other hand, he had with him a large number of young and enthusiastic disciples, such as the talented Eduard Zeller, later his son-in-law, the still bolder and braver Schwegler, Köstlin and Planck, Ritschl and Hilgenfeld, the last two the most prominent allies who came from outside of Württemberg.
2. Applied to the Writing of Paul. Baur had begun his critical work with Paul, and the same apostle engaged the attention of the school in its later publications. Searching investigations of the Epistle to the Romans appeared in the TZT in 1836, and aroused alarm and opposition. These, together with considerable material which he had published in the Theologische Jahrbücher, begun in 1842 by Zeller and edited from 1847 to 1857 by himself and Zeller jointly, which became the organ of the new school, he put together in 1845 (Stuttgart) into a monograph on Paul. The result reached by this part of his work was the denial of the authenticity of all the letters passing under the apostle's name except Galatians, I and II Corinthians, and Romans, of which last also the two concluding chapters were questioned. Finally, in agreement with Schneckenburger but still more radically, the postapostolic origin of the Acts was asserted. It was not difficult to conjecture what would happen to the Gospels when they were thrown into the same crucible.
3. The Fundamental Assumption of the School. The theory of the "objective criticism", as it developed, was that the older apostles, with their original body of disciples, were differentiated from the other Jews only by their belief that the crucified Jesus was the Messiah. All the elements of a new religion contained in his life and teaching were forgotten or lay undeveloped in the apostles' memory, though a Stephen attempted to enforce them and sealed his testimony by his death. When Paul, by a wonderful divination, by a train of reasoning from the cross and the resurrection, rediscovered these elements of universality and freedom, the Church stood suspiciously aloof. The older apostles, indeed, with a liberality difficult to understand in the premises, accepted Paul as an equal fellow laborer and admitted his right to the mission to the Gentiles. But a section of the Church remained obstinately hostile. Paul appears therefore, constantly prepared for combat, and when an epistle presents him in any other mood, it is ipso facto unauthentic. In view of these facts, it became all the more necessary for the next age to emphasize the unity of the Church; when, accordingly, there is perceived a conciliatory tone in an epistle, when it speaks much of the Church and its unity of belief, no further mark of apostolic origin is needed. The school believed itself able to prove from the Apocalypse, considered as a product not merely of Judaic narrowness but of positive opposition to Paulinism, and still more from the pseudo-Clementine homilies, that no accommodation took place in the apostles' lifetime.
4. Applied to the Gospels. These views, for all their possible usefulness as against an exaggerated notion in the opposite direction, still left one question unanswered--what really was the Christianity of Christ? This led inevitably to the question, burning since Strauss, of the status of the Gospels; but it was nearly ten years before Baur brought his disciples to that. In the Jahrbuch for 1844 he attempted to use his critical principles to disprove the authenticity of the Gospel of John. This treatment he supplemented by further investigations on the canonical gospels, and published the whole result in substantive form in 1847 (Tübingen). In a certain sense it was favorable to the traditional view. The order of the canon was approximately that of their composition. Matthew in whom the Judaic tendency is strongest, would then be nearest to the source; Mark would show a tendency to accommodation and minimizing of differences; and this would show all the more clearly the Pauline tendency of Luke. The fourth Gospel, finally, was supposed to display in every feature the tendency to sink these differences in a higher unity, and to take a stand for the conflicts of the second century, Gnosticism, Montanism, and the nascent Trinitarian controversy. This work of Baur's marks the close of the great period of the school. His disciples were now ready to come to his aid. Schwegler's book on Montanism (Tübingen, 1841), Ritschl's on Luke and the Gospel of Marcion (Tübingen, 1846) and on the origin of the primitive catholic Church (Bonn, 1850), Köstlin's on the Johannine system (Berlin, 1843), were all important; but the most significant was Schwegler's on the subapostolic age (Tübingen, 1846), which attempted constructive reasoning, using the writings which had been declared unauthentic as memorials of the development of Judaism and Paulinism into what came later.
5. Developed by Schwegler. According to Schwegler, Judaism had no need of further development; the impulse came from Paulinism, in such a way that the Judaic party decided, in order to preserve the unity of the Church (Gk. monarchia), to make some concessions, requiring things of similar import with those demanded by the pseudadelphoi of the New Testament, but more easily fulfilled by the Gentiles. If circumcision had to be abandoned, so much the more weight was laid upon baptism as the Christian equivalent; if the works of the Law were dropped, works were still required; Israel's primacy vanished, but a general aristocratic tendency could be maintained in the episcopate; Paul could not be cast out, but he could be subordinated to Peter. Schwegler then watches this development and compromise in two places, Rome and Asia Minor. In Rome he traces the succession of writings of Judaistic origin thus: first the Shepherd of Hermas and Hegesippus; then Justin, the Clementine Homilies, and the Apostolic Constitutions; then James, the Second Epistle of Clement, Mark, the Clementine Recognitions, and II Peter. On the Pauline side he finds the conciliatory writings to begin under Trajan with I Peter; then follow Luke and Acts; then the Pastoral Epistles and the letters of Ignatius. Montanism being in his view only an offshoot of Judaism, the Pauline victory falls in the pontificate of Victor (189-199), under whom Montanism was condemned at Rome. The Pauline party, indeed, had already made no slight concessions, in order to ward off Gnosticism--though the Gnostics and especially the Marcionites ultimately were of great service to Paulinism in securing the universality of Christianity.
He sees the process as somewhat different in Asia Minor, where the opponents of Paul rallied, not as in Rome around Peter, but around John; here the solution was the formation of a body of Christian dogma, while in Rome it had been a unity of organization with a Roman primacy. While at Rome the supposed Ebionite works are more numerous than the Pauline, it is the contrary in Asia Minor; the Apocalypse is here the single Ebionite memorial, while on the other side Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, and the Johannine Gospel form an imposing series of steps in the development. Bold, however, and fascinating as are the combinations set forth in this work, and brilliant as is its execution, it may be pointed out (though space does not permit of illustration) that there is scarcely a theologian today who is disposed to accept this train of reasoning as even an approximately satisfactory solution of the problems suggested. And even in those days, the starting-point of the whole process of development still remained to be discussed. It was already obvious that without tracing it back to the person and teaching of Christ, the question of how the primitive catholic Church came into existence was insoluble. Attempts in the direction of establishing the entire critical position by showing a genetic development of the earliest organization and dogma out of the gospel of Christ himself marked a third period in the history of the Tübingen School.
III The Period of Church History:
1. Political Complications. The political upheaval of 1848 had its influence on the future of the school. The attempts made here and there to introduce its conclusions, under cover of the political movements of the time, into the general life of the Church could not fail to bring up the question whether ecclesiastical activity was possible for adherents of the school. It was answered in the negative not only by opponents; some of Baur's own disciples felt that they must either modify the scientific conclusions they had learned from him, or seek a secular calling, as Märklin, whose life was written by Strauss, had done in 1840. It was not surprising, then, that the German governments thought twice before appointing to academic positions men whose influence was so disturbing, and that the younger generation hesitated to follow Baur further, after his most important disciple, Zeller, was obliged in 1849 to exchange a theological chair for that of philosophy at Marburg. Baur felt the isolation in which he thus began to find himself; but his temperament allowed him to hold fast longer than others to the identity of church teaching and speculation. He relaxed nothing of his zeal for the solution of the important problem which still remained, the establishment on a critical foundation of a positive story of the development of Christianity from its origin down through the centuries.
2. Baur's Works on Church History. In 1852 Baur published a book (Leipsic) on the epochs of church history as a preliminary, containing brilliant and frequently sharp criticism of earlier historians. His own efforts in this direction began with the work Das Christenthum und die christliehe Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte (Leipsic, 1853), and was continued in Die christliche Kirche vom Anfang des 4. bis Ausgang des 6. Jahrhunderts (Leipsic, 1859). After his death appeared (Leipsic, 1861 ) the third part, completed by himself, Die christliche des Mittelalters in den Hauptmomenten igrer Enwicklung; and two further volumes were published from his carefully prepared lecture-notes--Kirchengeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, edited by Zeller (Leipsic, 1862), and Kirchengeschicte der neueren Zeit van der Reformation bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, edited by his son Ferdinand (Leipsic, 1863), thus completing the survey.
3. His Theories and Conclusions. If there is sought in these books an answer to the question as to the real primitive Christianity which lay back of Paul and back of Ebionitism, as to the person of Christ himself, it may be put, once more substantially in Baur's own words (from the important controversial pamphlet against Uhlhom, Die Tübinger Schule und ihre Stellung zur Gegenwart (Leipsic, 1859), as follows: The real inwardness of Christianity, its essential center point, may be found in what belongs to the strictly ethical teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, and similar utterances; in the doctrine of the Kingdom of God and the conditions of membership in it, designed to place men in the right ethical relation to God. This is the really divine, the universally human element in it, the part of its content which is eternal and absolute. What raises Christianity above all other religions is nothing but the purely ethical character of its acts, teachings, and requirements. If this is the essential content of the consciousness of Jesus, it is one of the two factors which compose his personality; it must have a corresponding form, in order to enter, in the way of historical development, into the general consciousness of humanity; and this form is the Jewish conception of the Messiah, the point of contact between the mind of Jesus and the world that was to believe in him, the basis on which alone a religious community destined to broaden into a Church could be built. We can, therefore, have no clear and definite conception of the personality of Jesus if we do not distinguish these two sides of it and consider them, so to speak, under the aspect of an antinomy, of a process which develops itself gradually.
4. Their Weakness and Decline. If we try to get at the heart of Baur's whole view of the subject, stripping his presentation of its somewhat pathetic enthusiasm, it will appear not so very different from Kant's expression, that the faith of pure reason came in with Christ, indeed, but was so overlaid in the subsequent history that if the question were asked which was the best period in the entire course of church history, it might be unhesitatingly answered by the choice of the present, in which a nearer approach than ever before is made to pure religious doctrine. As long as Baur had gone no further into the really primitive essential import of Christianity than to consider the Pauline dogmatics as representing it, the development of the Church could perfectly well seem to him to have proceeded in a wholly rational manner. The dogmatic and ecclesiastical decisions of the early ages could, in their context, appear "reasonable," and Baur himself, in contrast with a writer like Gottfried Arnold or with the unhistoric rationalism, almost an orthodox historian, always in harmony with the course of events as it proceeded. Not only Athanasius and Augustine, but Gregory VII and Innocent III had full justice at his hands. But this involved an equally tolerant acknowledgment of the claims of the nineteenth century. If the humanitarianism of Goethe and Schiller seemed better adapted to the needs of educated men in this age than the Church in its older form, here also the living must take precedence; and suddenly the place of the old Church was taken by a broad "communion" in which all the heroes of the intellect, even the most modern, took their place as saints. But when the question came to be asked what this prevalent humanism had in common with ancient Christianity, it became apparent that the whole long process of development was really a totally unnecessary détour, whose purpose it was difficult to discover. It could scarcely be denied that a historical method which saw the essence of Christianity in ethics exclusively, which knew nothing of the need of redemption, and which was unable to give any positive account of the person of Christ, was one in which the Hegelian conception of development practically disappeared. Yet the distinguishing mark of the school of Baur had been the application of this very conception to Christian history, especially that of the primitive age--the attempt to show the course of history as rational and necessary; and thus, in the person of its head, the Tübingen School deserted the fundamental principle which in its palmy days it had sought to enforce. It was, then, not surprising that uncertainty showed itself among the members of the school on the question of the Gospels. The less a definite tendency could be proved in the synoptics, the more they were shown to offer at least a substratum of purely historical matter, so much the more pressing became the question how the school's view of history could be reconciled with the actual course of events. When the attempt to construct the latter a priori failed, an advantage was given to the "literary-historical" method with which Hilgenfeld undertook to replace the criticism of tendency. In his Historisch-kritische Einleitung in das neue Testament (Leipsic, 1875) the Tübingen views were modified in a large nimber of points. Thus the results supposed to have been attained by the "objective criticism" of Baur were called in question by his own fellow workers: and when he died, it is hardly too much to say that his school, at least in the narrower sense, died with him.