Wegscheider, Julius August Ludwig

Wegscheider, Julius August Ludwig the foremost systematic theologian of rationalism, was born in 1771 at Kübbelingen, in Brunswick. In 1791 he was in the University of Helmstaidt, where Henke then occupied the theological chair, and in 1795 he became tutor in the family of a prominent merchant of Hamburg. He gave ten years to this service. His leisure time was devoted to the study of Kant's philosophy, the fruit of which appeared in 1797 in Ethices Stoicorum, cum Principiis Ethicis a Kantio Propositis Comparata, and in a Versuch d. Hallotsize d. philosoph. Religionsleare in Predigten darustellen. In 1804, he added to these a treatise Ueber die Trenlung der Moral von der Religion. In 1805 he obtained a tutorship in the University of Göttingen, and in the following work came more prominently before the public by the issue of his Einleitung in das l'angelieu Johannis. He was thereupon called to a professorship in the Hessian University of Kintell, and afterwards on the absorption of Rinten was transferred to Halle. Here he became exceedingly popular with students, who thronged his lecture- rooms, and he added to his fame by the publication of his Institiones Theologiae Dogmatic. His popularity continued until the Denunciation of the Evangelical Kirchenzeitung, as it was called, in 1830, when he was, together with his colleague Gesenius, cited before a committee of examination to defend himself against complaints respecting his teachings in the lecture-room. The intervention of political events deprived the examination of such importance as it might have possessed for him, but his influence was nevertheless irrevocably broken. Ullmann came to reinforce Tholuck in 1829, Julius Müller ten years afterwards; and the orthodox tendency grew ill every direction. Many of the polemical blows aimed by Hase against Rohr in 1834 took effect on Wegscheider also. As his reputation declined, students no longer found it possible to endure the tediousness and monotonous delivery of his lectures, and but few of them continued to sit at his feet after 1840. He died in February, 1849.. The scientific value of his Institutiones, the great systematic theology of rationalism, owes but little of its character to Wegscheider. Its thoughts are borrowed, usually from Henke's Lineamlenta and Ammon's Suma, and, in many instances, in the exact words of those books. It abounds in half- completed ideas and unreconciled differences, as it does scarcely any other theological work. Its true character was shown up for the first time by Hase in his Antiror (1837). See also Steiger, Kritik des Rationalisnmus in Wegscheider's Dogmatik (1830) and Herzog, Real-Encyclop. s.v.

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