Oehler, Gustav Friedrich
Oehler, Gustav Friedrich, a very eminent Old Testament scholar of Germany, was born at Ebingen, in Wurtemberg, June 10, 1812. Having finished his theological studies at Tubingen, he was appointed a lecturer at the Missionary Institution at Basle, which position he occupied from 1834 to .1837. After this he became a member of the theological seminary in Tubingen, teaching at the same time in the university there. In 1840 he was appointed vicar in Stuttgard, and in the same year professor of the theological seminary at Schonthal. In 1845 he accepted a call from the theological faculty in Breslau, Silesia, where he lectured until 1852, when he returned to Tiibingen to occupy the same position there, besides having the ephoralty over the higher theological seminary. He died Feb. 20, 1872. He published a great many essays and articles in different reviews, in Herzog's theological and Schmid's pedagogical encyclopaedias; and the following works, Prolegomena zur Theologie des Alten Testamentes (Stuttgard, 1845): — Commentationum ad theologiam pertinentium, pars I (ibid. 1846): — Die Grundziige derAltestamentlichen Weisheit (Tiibingen, 1854): — Ueber das Verhaltniss der Attestamentlichen Prophetie zur Heidnischen Mantik (ibid. 1861): — Zwei Seminarreden (ibid. 1870): — Gesammelte Seminarreden (ibid. 1872); but his main work is Theologie des Alten Testanientes (1873, 1874, 2 vols.), published by his son immediately after the author's death, and giving the substance of his theological lectures delivered from 1839 to 1871, and of his articles published in different cyclopaedias and reviews. Of the last-mentioned work an English translation has been prepared by E.D. Smith, of which the first volume, entitled Theology of the Old Testament, was published at Edinburgh in 1874. This work, though it is characterized rather by fullness of details than by comprehensiveness of principles, yet exhibits on every page signs of the most conscientious diligence. This is especially the case in all matters connected with Old-Testament exegesis. It is therefore free from the serious blemishes which damage all its predecessors, the valuable work of Schultz not excepted. It is characterized as follows by a writer in the Brit. Qu. Rev. (Jan. 1875). p. 147,-148:
"Oehler was a strong believer in the supernatural, and was imbued with the most profound reverence for Old-Testament Scripture. With regard to the relation of the Old Testament to the New, he held a middle position between the view of Hengstenberg and the older orthodox party, which did not distinguish between the two, and that of Marcion and Schleiermacher, which entirely cuts loose the Old-Testament religion from the New, thereby reducing it to a level with the other pre-Christian religions, and making it of scarcely greater importance for the explanation of the Christian system than the theology of Homer. While Oehler has successfully maintained against Hengstenberg that the Old and New Testaments were so distinct that no New-Testament idea is fully set forth in the Old, he yet holds that the connection between them is so intimate and essential that the genesis of all the ideas of New-Testament salvation lie in the Old, and that both must stand or fall together. He must not be understood, however, as holding the opinion that the growth of religious ideas was owing to a certain religious sense, which became crearer and fuller with the progress of time, for he repudiates altogether this theory of the rationalistic schools. While admiring the author's moderation and devotedness, we cannot help thinking that out of this too decided opposition to the above schools arose two radical defects, which pervade the whole work, viz., a painful and unsuccessful attempt to reconcile all discrepancies between the different religious views and tendencies, e.g. to reduce to complete harmony the different parts of the Old Testament: and an entire exclusion of all side-lights from non- Biblical sources. According to his own principle, God must have gradually, and by means of enlightened leaders, removed his people more and more from heathenism; and a complete history of the process would necessitate a comparison with heathen views. There must have been a period in which the religious views of Judaism and heathenism were closely allied. Yet we find scarcely an allusion to the latter. The same exclusive tendency caused him, somewhat inconsistently; to limit his investigation to the canonical writings of the Old Testament. This tendency alone would suffice to render his work, though richer in detail, inferior in breadth and comprehensiveness to the valuable volumes of Hermann Schultz', and will cause the readers of Ewald, who lives in a different plane from ordinary men, to feel that they are entering a new world of thought and freedom." See Theologisches Universal-Lexikon, s.v.; Kurtz, Church History (Philadelphia, 1875), 2:375; Lehrbuch der Kirchengesehichte (Mitau, 1874), 2:323; Hauck, Theologischer Jahresbericht, 6:259; 8:65, 646 sq.; Worte zum Anidenken an Dr. G.F. v. Oehler (1873), containing the addresses made at his funeral, and also a brief sketch of his life.