Tubingen School, the New
Tubingen School, The New.
A very different sera was inaugurated in the University of Tübingen on the appointment of F. C. Baur (q.v.) as professor of theology in 1826. He began to attack the objective positions of Christianity through the Pauline epistles, selecting some of these only as authentic, and pointing out alleged discrepancies between them and other parts of the New-Test. history. His theory, which is summed up in his work on the apostle Paul, is, in brief, that, taking the epistles to the Galatians, the Romans, and the Corinthians especially as guides, we find therein "exposed the fact that there were two parties in the early Church, the Pauline and the Petrine. These struggled for supremacy, and the conflict was a long one. Peter was a thorough Jew, and his side predominated even after, the death of the principal combatants. Judaism was the cradle of Christianity; and the latter was only an earnest, restless, reformatory branch of the former. But it was not an offshoot as yet, for Christianity was essentially Jewish all through its first historic period. The canonical writings of the New Test., which constitute the chief literature of the first two centuries, are the literary monument of Christianity while it was yet undeveloped and undetached from Judaism. These writings are the mediating theology of those distant days. The Petrine party was very strong until the middle of the 2nd century, when it was obliged to yield to, or rather harmonize with, the Pauline. Many causes contributed to bring the two factions together. There was an absence of growth quite incompatible with their respective strength. Alone, they were almost unable to brave the storm of persecution. Finally, for the sake of security and propagation, they laid down their weapons and united under one banner. From this union came the subsequent growth of Christianity. The canonical works so much revered by the Church had been written in the interest of one or the other of these parties. Since the enmity has been destroyed, their literary productions must be considered in the light of history. The Church is therefore much mistaken in attaching importance to the Scriptures, for they were written for a timeserving end, and are quite unworthy of the interest which we attach to them." It is obvious how destructive to the essential faith of Christians were these positions, and yet it is wonderful that they were broached with so much assurance, although based upon so trivial a comparison of circumstances. Nevertheless, a numerous circle of disciples clustered around Baur, and they enjoyed his leadership until his death, in 1860. But the writings of both the master and his school were quickly answered by the best theologians of Germany, such as Thiersch, Dorner, Leckler, Lange, Schaff, Bleek, Hase, Bunsen, and Tischendorf. Yet the effects of the insinuations, suspicions, and criticisms of Baur were for a long time a serious hindrance to the truth. The authors of the movement were disciples of the Hegelian philosophy. Their aim was to explain the origin of Christianity by natural causes alone. In this endeavor they but reproduced in a new and ingenious form the exploded infidelity of a former age. And the primitive doctrine of supranaturalism was again defended by an appeal, as of old and ever, to facts of the inspired records and the instinctive convictions of humanity. Yet some of its champions in this contest were themselves unconsciously infected more or less by the insinuating influences of the new skepticism, and were led to make concessions which later and so under theologians have seen to be unnecessary and untenable.
Meanwhile, the attack upon the fundamental documents of Christianity was resumed in a still more virulent form by D. F. Strauss (q.v.), on his appointment to the theological faculty of Tübingen in 1832, and culminated in his famous Leben Jesu, which boldly impugns the historical truth of the Gospel itself. For the discussion of the controversy resulting, SEE MYTHICAL THEORY. A strong reaction has long since set in against these negative views, even in Tübingen itself so that what has recently been known as "the Tübingen theology" is likely soon to be a thing of the past. See Hurst, Hist. of Rationalism, p. 280 sq.; Cook, Monday Lectures, ser. 1; Fisher, Supernat. Origin of Christianity, p. 35. — SEE NEOLOGY.