Schwegler, Albert

Schwegler, Albert, a German rationalist, perhaps, after Baur, the leading representative of the modern Tubingen school. His father was pastor in the village of Michelbach, Wurtemberg, and there Albert was born, Feb. 10, 1819. His early instruction was directed by his father, and was supplemented by the schools of Schwabisch-Hall and Schonthal, so that he entered the evangelical seminary at Tubingen in 1836 with rare preparatory acquirements. He immediately entered on the study of the Hegelian philosophy, and was so fascinated that he could find no pleasure in the study of Schleiermacher, which he had also undertaken, and considered the relation of that theologian to Christianity as evidence of his intellectual narrowness. Philosophical speculation was less suited to his mind, however, than historical inquiry. He was consequently mightily impressed on its appearance with Strauss's Leben Jesu, which he regarded as the culmination of the entire tendency in which the relation of theology to philosophy had been developed. The measures taken by the authorities against Strauss served only to heighten Schwegler's enthusiasm for that author. The longer he studied that work, however, the more reason did he find for doubt He believed that the text Of the Gospels would afford a more solid historical basis than Strauss had found. His philosophical opinions, too, were becoming uncertain; he came to believe that the Hegelian system did not concede sufficient importance to the factor of personality, and questioned whether philosophy might not become more largely Christian than it then was; and in the end he acknowledged that he could not be certain that he should not become a pietist at last.

While in this state of uncertainty he became a disciple of F. Chr. Baur, in whom he imagined that he had found what he desired. He thoroughly mastered that theologian's theory of the conditions of early Christianity, and subsequently elaborated it in various essays and treatises. While a student, he solved two problems set by the theological faculty tone of which concerned the relation of the ideal to the historical Christ, and the other the Montanist heresy — and obtained both prizes. A brilliant examination, supplemented by the reception of a first prize in homiletics and another in catechetics, brought his student life to a close in 1840. He remained at Tübingen, employed in literary labors, during nine months longer. In 1841 he published his prize essay on Montanism in an enlarged form, under the title Der Montanismus u. d. christl. Kirche d. 2ten Jahrhunderts, and afterwards traveled through Germany to Holland and Belgium, with the result that he was confirmed in the tendency he had begun to cultivate. On his return to Tubingen in 1842, he was obliged to assume charge of the affairs of the Church at the neighboring village of Bebenhausen; but he had determined on a literary and academical career, and continued in that relation less than a year. In the autumn of 1843 he qualified himself for a tutorship in the theological seminary by reading before the philosophical faculty an essay on the Symposium of Plato, but without obtaining the desired place. In 1844 he, with a number of friends, founded the Jahrbiicher der Gegenwart, and became the actual editor. His rejection from the theological seminary had the effect to intensify his devotion to the system of Baur, as appears from the work entitled Das nachapostol. Zeitalter (Tub. 1846). This work was finished in six months, and is far inferior to the earlier work on Montanism. Its fundamental proposition is, that primitive Christianity was simple Ebionitism. In 1847 Schwegler published the Clementine Homilies, and in 1852 the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. All his subsequent works are outside the field of theology — Aristot. Metaphysik (1847): — Gesch. d. Philosophic (1848): — Romische Gesch., of which vol. 3 appeared in 1858, carrying the description forward to the Licinian laws. This volume is preceded by a life of the author, from which the data for this article are obtained. Schwegler had in 1848 been made extraordinary professor for Roman literature and antiquities, and afterwards obtained also the chair of ancient history. He died suddenly, Jan. 5, 1857.

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