Olshausen, Hermann

Olshausen, Hermann a German Protestant theologian, noted especially as an exegete, was born Aug. 21, 1796, at Oldesloe, in the duchy of Holstein. From 1814 to 1.818 he studied theology at Kiel and Berlin; at the former university Twesten, and at the latter Neander and Schleiermacher, lectured in those times. He applied himself particularly to historical theology, and his first work, which was a prize-essay, Melanchthon's Charakteristik aus seinen Briefen dargestellt (Berlin, 1817), brought him to the attention of the Prussian minister of public worship. In the year 1818 he became licentiate in theology and "privat docent" in the university; in 1821 he was elected extraordinary professor at Konigsberg, where he taught till 1834, and where at first he also belonged to the theosophic circle inaugurated by J. H. Schonherr. In the year 1827 he was made a regular professor, and inn 1834 accepted a call to a theological professorship at Erlangen, hoping that a change of climate would help his health, which had become very much impaired by overwork; but he did not realizes what he anticipated, and died Sept. 4, 1839, in the prime of life. Besides his prizeessay, he wrote, Historiae Ecclesiastes veteris monumennta (Berlin, 1820-22): — Die Aechtheit der vier kanonischen Evangelien, aus den Geschichte der zwei ersten Jahrhunderte erwiesen (Konigsberg, 1823): — Ein Wort uber tiefren Schriftsinn (ibid. 1824): — Die Eibl. Schriftauslegung:Noch ein Wort iiber tieferen Schriftsinn (Hamburg, 1825). where he rejects the belief of a literal, mechanical inspiration as taught by the Protestant divines of the 17th century, and as held to this day by most of the popular English commentators. But his principal work — the one on which his immortality rests, a work of real genius, which, like Neander's Church History, has become already, we may say, a standard of English and American, as well as German literature is his Commentar uber saimmtliche Schriften des

Nezten Testaments (Konigsberg, 1830 sq., vols. i-iv), completed and revised after the author's death by doctors Ebrard and Wiesinger. "The principal merit and greatest charm of Olshausen's exegesis lies in its spirit. He excels beyond most commentators in what we may call the art of organic reproduction of the sacred text, and the explanation of Scripture by Scripture. The philological portions are often too brief and unsatisfactory for the advanced scholar; but he pays the more careful attention to the theological exposition, enters into the marrow of religions ideas, and introduces the student to the spirit and inward unity of the divine revelation in its various stages of development under the old and new dispensation. He has an instinctive power of seizing, as if by a sacred sympathy, the true meaning of the inspired writer, and bringing to light the hidden connections and transitions, the remote allusions and far reaching bearing of the text. There is nothing mechanical and superficial about him. He is always working in the mines and digging at the roots. Sometimes his mysticism carries him beyond the limits of sober criticism. 'But there is a peculiar charm in his mysticism, and even its occasional mistakes are far preferable to that cold, dry, and lifeless exegesis whicli weighs the spiritual and eternal truths of God in the scales of Aristotle's logic, Kuhner's grammar, and Wahl's dictionary. Fritzsche and Strauss may sneer at some expositions of Olshausen, but the pious student will read him with delight and profit, and regard the spiritual depth and the warm glow of a profoundly pious heart as the sweetest charm and highest recommendation of his work. He approaches the Bible with devout reverence as the Word of the living God. leads the reader into the sanctissimum, and makes him feel that here is the gate of heaven" (Schaff). Olshausen's commentary was translated into English for Clark's Foreign Theological Library, and has been revised and republished on this side of the water with additional notes, together with Olshausen's valuable tract on the Genuineness of the Writings of the New Testament (transl. by Fosdick), as an appropriate introduction, by Prof. A. C. Kendrick, of Rochester (New York, 1863, 6 vols.). See Lubker, Lexikon der Schleswig-Holstein. Schrilfisteller von 1796-1828 (2d div. p. 413 sq.); Rheinwaldt, Allg. Repertor. fur Theol. Literatur (ed. 1840, pt. vii), p. 91-94; Herzog, Real-Enyklop. s.v.; Theologisches Universal-Lexikon, s.v.; Kitto, Cyclop. s. .; Schaff, Germany: its Universities, Theology, and' Religion, p. 295 sq.; Kurtz, Leh rbuch der Kirchengeschichte, 2:270, 310 (Engl. transl. 2:362-408); Kahnis, Hist. Protestant Theol. p. 268; Pye-Smith, Introd. to Theoloy, p. 349, 697; Alzog (Romans Cath.), Kirchengesch. 2:709; Meth. Qu. Rev.

April, 1859, p. 254; Hagenbach, Hist. Doctrines, 2:470; Berl. Allgem. Kirchenzeitung, 1839, No. 76.

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