Hofmann, Johann Christian Konrad

Hofmann, Johann Christian Konrad (afterwards honored by Bavaria with the title von Hofmann), a German theologian, was born December 21, 1810, at Nuremberg. He studied at Erlangen, where the Reformed theologian, Krafft, exercised a lasting influence on Hofmann. From Erlangen he went to Berlin in 1829, at a time when Hegel, Schleiermacher, Neander, and Heng stenberg were lecturing. After teaching several years at the gymnasium in Erlangen, he became repetent at the university, and now devoted himself exclusively to theology. Thus he writes in 1835, "The more I occupy myself with Scripture exegesis, the more powerfully am I convinced of the certainty that the divine Word is one single work, and the more am I stimulated with the glad hope that our generation will witness the victory of the truth of inspiration. It is especially the wonderful unity of history and doctrine, which becomes clearer and clearer to me. The whole Old-Test. prophecy is but a seeing of the deepest signification of historical events and conditions.... It is a sheer impossibility that the prophecies of the prophets and apostles are false, while their doctrines are true; for here form and contents, fact and doctrine, are one, which is the distinguishing characteristic of revealed truth.... I pray God to permit me to see the Christ, now crucified by his enemies, lifted up by himself, that I may place my hands in the print of the nails, and may know him in the glory of his victory, whom I have heretofore loved in the humility of his conflict and suffering." In 1838 he commenced his academical career, and presented as his dissertation, De Argumento Psalmi Centesimi Decimi, in which he makes David the author of that psalm, but denies the common Messianic interpretation, by referring the psalm to the angel of Jehovah. In the year 1841 he was made professor, and published the first part of his famous work, Weissagung und Erfullung. In 1842 he accepted a call to Rostock, but returned to Erlangen in 1845. His return to the latter place marked a new period of prosperity for the university, to which he devoted all his energies. He died December 20, 1877. Hofmann took not only a deep interest in ecclesiastical matters, but also in political affairs, and was for several sessions a member of the Bavarian Parliament. Among Hofmann's first publications were some historical works, Geschichte des Ausfsuhrs in den Sevennen unter Ludwig XIV (1837): — Lehrbuch der Weltgeschichte fur Gymnasien (1839; 2d ed. 1843): — De Bellis ab Antiocho Epiphane Adversus Ptolemaeos Gestis (1835). His first effort in theology was Die siebenzig Jahre des Jeremias und die siebenzig Jahrwochen des Daniel (Nuremberg, 1836). Concerning this latter work he wrote to a friend: "If I am correct, I cause a great revolution in the Assyrian, Chaldaean, Egyptian, and Israelitish chronology. Jerusalem was destroyed in 605 B.C.; the seventy years of the Captivity go from 605 to 535, the sixty-two weeks of Daniel (7 X 62 = 434) from 605 to 171, the sixty-third from 171 to 164. Thus the results of both investigations which I made independently from each other, agree most harmoniously with each other." Weissagung und Erfullung im alten und neuen Testament (1841-44) appeared at a time when two views of prophecy prevailed; criticism explained it away as presentiment, Hengstenberg petrified it into simple prediction. Hofmann brought prophecy into closest connection with history, and treated it as an organic whole. History itself is prophecy; each period contains the germ of the future, and prefigures it. Thus the entire sacred history, in all its essential developments, is a prophecy of the final and eternal relation between God and man. The incarnation of Christ marks the beginning of the essential fulfillment; for the head is only the realization of the intended perfect communion with God, when it is joined with the body of believers. The word of prophecy connects itself with prophetical history, both corresponding with each other. Each event in the course of history is followed by a progress of prophecy. When God gives divers forms to the history of the Old Test., he thus exhibits the different sides which are comprehended and united in the person of Christ. Prophecy in the course of history becomes ever richer and richer in its forms, but points only to one goal — the God-man. He is then again the starting-point for new prophecy and new hope, for his appearance is the prefigurement of the final glorification of the congregation of believers. The permanent value of this work consists in thy proof that the Old and New Tests. are parts of a single history of salvation; displaying the gradual realization, by divine interpositions, of redemption for the race. Between 1852 and 1856 Hofmann published his second great work, Schriftbeweis (2 volumes; 2d ed. 1857-60). In this work he attempted to prove the authenticity and divine origin of. Christianity from its records. He lamented the usual method of doing this from single passages of Scripture, and himself sought to use the Biblical record in its entirety as one organic whole. He started from the idea that, to understand Christianity, it was not necessary to describe religious experiences, nor rehearse the doctrines of the Scriptures and the Church, but to develop the simple fact that makes us Christians, or the communion of God with man, mediated by Christ. Herein he differs fundamentally from Schleiermacher, who starts out from the sense of absolute dependence in the Christian's experience. Hofmann starts with the new birth. The results at which they arrive in their systems are therefore so entirely different. With Hofmann all is historical, with Schleiermacher, nothing. This work aroused opposition. The author had combated the doctrine of vicarious atonement, and the charge was made against him of denying the atonement altogether. Hofmann had expected opposition. For a time he kept quiet, but finally he replied in Schutzschriften fur eine neue Weise, alle Wahr heit zu lehren (1856-59). Without continuing the controversy, Hofmann wrote his last great work, Die heilige. Schsrif des neuen Testaments zusammenhangenduntessucht (1862 sq.), in which he endeavored to prove scientifically the inspiration of the Scripture and the integrity of the canon. After Hofmann's death there were published, Theologische Ethik (1878): — Encyclopadie der Theologie (edited by Bestmann, 1879): — Biblische Hermeneutik (edited by Volck, 1880). See Stahlin, J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann, in Luthardt's Allgemeine Lutherische Kirchenzeitung (1878); Grau, Erinnerungen an J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann (Gutersloh, 1879); Plitt-Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Lichtenberger, Encyclop. des Sciences Religienses, s.v. (B.P.)

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