What were the main conclusions reached by the Tubingen School of Ferdinand Christian Baur? What impact did they have on the field of hermeneutics?

1 Answer 1


From the article about the Tubingen School Atheism.About.com, we find this quote:

Unfortunately, Baur's influence and ideas did not survive very long after him and the Tübingen School declined very quickly during the late 19th century. What did survive, however, was the idea of explaining the development of early Christianity without references to divine influences or divine mandates. Baur's was a completely naturalistic explanation of Christian development, something which was not tried much before but which has become the standard since.

I believe that the source (Atheism.About.com) completely discredits the first word ("Unfortunately"), however the rest seems to be sound.

Baur and his scholars applied Hegelian philosophies to Christian history. Hegelianism can be summarized by the statement "the rational alone is real". This, as can be seen directly from the statement, is a very naturalistic doctrine. (IE there is nothing in this world other than what can be studied by the natural sciences.)

While clearly this philosophy is an atheistic one, he used the concepts to apply them to Christian history. Using these atheistic viewpoints, they came to the conclusion that the key to early Christianity was the conflict between Peter and Paul. Peter, being the leader of the Jewish party while Paul led a gentile party. Peter was the thesis while Paul was the antithesis.

While this atheistic viewpoint may seem to be a detriment, some view it as a positive trait:

His exegesis was painstaking, free from prejudice, and acute; as historian of dogma he understood the origin and development of religious ideas and doctrines as few others have done; and as systematic theologian he was profound and truly evangelical. Christin Classic Ethereal Library


It seems that while Baur's influence faded, it appears that the concepts that he introduced of removing theology from the analysis of Christian History seem to remain. While these principles are not all-pervasive (as can be seen in the hermeneutic principles of inerrancy and reverence), they clearly have had an impact on theology scholars.

Further reading at the Catholic Encyclopedia and a book on the Tubingen School

  • Thanks! "word" should be "world," but I can't edit it without finding another 5 characters to change :)
    – jrdioko
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 16:16
  • Heh. Thanks. :) I've fixed it. (I don't mind minor edits to my stuff at all.)
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 16:18

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