RAMBACH, rām'bāH: A Thuringian family of theologians.
1. Johann Jacob: B. at Halle Feb. 24, 1693; d. at Giessen Apr. 19, 1735. After a period of study at the University of Halle, in the summer of 1715, he assisted Johann Heinrich Michaelis in the preparation of his Hebrew Bible. As a result of these labors commentaries by Rambach on Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Nehemiah, and II Chronicles were published in the Uberiores annotationes in hagiographos V. T. libros. In 1719 Rambach went to Jena and continued his studies under Franz Buddeus. He at the same time qualified as an instructor and gave exegetical lectures that were received with great enthusiasm. He also included dogmatic theology in his instruction and began his extensive literary activities. In 1723 he was called as a member of the theological faculty at Halle and was made full professor in 1727, where he lectured to large classes and preached on alternate Sundays. He accepted, in 1731, the position of first professor of theology and first superintendent at Giessen, and in 1732 was made director of the Pädagogium at Giessen.
Rambach was an exceptionally learned and industrious theologian, whose numerous productions went through many editions. This popularity may be explained by the position that he took between Pietism and the Wolfian philosophy. His religious and theological thinking took its start from Pietism, but he had in addition a love of science and system and a spiritual independence and moderation that were foreign to Pietistic circles, and these qualities he owed to Wolf's influence. His sermons have been regarded as models.
Rambach has also significance as a hymnologist. He not only made collections but wrote many hymns. His poetic talent was not slight. The best of his productions are marked by depth of thought and of feeling, and no small number may be counted as the best of the time.
The works for which he is most celebrated are Introductio historico-theologica in epistolam Pauli ad Romanos (Halle, 1727); Commentatio hermeneutica de sensus mystici criteriis (Jena, 1728); Exercitationes hermeneutic (1728); Commentatio theologica (2d ed., Halle, 1732); Collegium histori ecclesiastic Veteris Testamenti (2 vols., Frankfort, 1737); Collegium introductorium historico-theologicum (2 vols., Halle, 1738). But the most celebrated are his Betrachtungen which cover several phases of the life and death of Christ, collected in various editions, one of the latest being Betrachtungen über das ganze Leiden Christi und die sieben letzten Worte des gekreuzigten Jesu (Basel, 1865; partial Eng. transl. of earlier issue, Meditations and Contemplations on the Sufferings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 vols., London, 1763; abridgments or excerpts, London, 1760, York, 1819, and London, 1827).
2. Friedrich Eberhard: B. at Pfullendorf near Gotha 1708; d. at Breslau Aug. 16, 1775. He and Johann Jacob (above) had the same great grandfather, and his father was Georg Heinrich Rambach, pastor at Pfullendorf. After studying theology at Halle, he taught in the Francke Pädagogium (1730). In 1734 he went to Cönnern as associate pastor, and in 1736 was appointed pastor at Teupitz. His fame as a preacher steadily rose. In 1740 he was diakonus at the Marktkirche, Halle; in 1745 he preached at the Heiligengeistkirche in Magdeburg; in 1751, was chief preacher at the cathedral; in 1756, first pastor of the Marktkirche, Halle, and inspector of the district of the Saal; and in 1766 he went to Breslau as chief counselor of the consistory and inspector of the principality of Breslau. He was an able philologist, well versed in theological science and a faithful servant of the church. He translated works on church history and theology into German from the English and French, prefixing exhaustive prefaces. His work in this field was of undeniable service to German theologians.
3. Johann Jacob II.: Son of the preceding; b. at Teupitz (25 m. s. of Berlin) Mar. 27, 1737; d. at Ottensen (a suburb of Hamburg) Aug. 6, 1818. He studied theology at Halle; taught in gymnasiums, 1759-1774, and was rector at Quedlinburg and chief preacher. In 1780 he became head pastor of St. Michaelis at Hamburg and in 1801 senior of the ministerium. As a theologian he stood in opposition to most of his contemporaries, holding fast to the Lutheran confession. Of his writings, mainly sermons, his Versuch einer pragmatischen Litterarhistorie (Halle, 1770) deserves special mention.
4. August Jacob: Son of the preceding; b. at Quedlinburg (40 m. s.e. of Brunswick) May 28, 1777; d. at Ottensen Sept. 7, 1851. He studied theology at Halle; on his return to Hamburg became, in 1802, diakonus at the church of St. Jacobi; in 1818, he succeeded his father as chief pastor at St. Michaelis; and in 1834 became senior of the ministerium. He became interested in hymnology at an early date, the first important result of his studies being Ueber Dr. Martin Luthers Verdienst um den Kirchengesang (Hamburg, 1813). His Anthologie christlicher Gesänge aus allen Jahrhunderten (6 vols., Altona and Leipsic, 1817-33) is a reliable work and is still indispensable in hymnological investigations. During the years 1833-42, Rambach, with five colleagues, produced a hymnbook which is still used in Hamburg. His hymnological collections were given by his widow to the Hamburg city library.