1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Paulus, Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob

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PAULUS, HEINRICH EBERHARD GOTTLOB (1761-1851), German rationalistic theologian, was born at Leonberg, near Stuttgart, on the 1st of September 1761. His father, a Lutheran clergyman at Leonberg, dabbled in spiritualism, and was deprived of his living in 1771. Paulus was educated in the seminary at Tubingen, was three years master in a German school, and then spent two years in travelling through England, Germany, Holland and France. In 1789 he was chosen professor ordinaries of Oriental languages at Jena. Here he lived in closing intercourse with Schiller, Goethe, Herder and the most distinguished literary men of the time. In 1793 he succeeded Johann Christoph Doderlein (1745-1792) as professor of exegetical theology. His special work was the exposition of the Old and New Testaments in the light of his great Oriental learning and according to his characteristic principle of “natural explanation.” In his explanation of the Gospel narratives Paulas sought to remove what other interpreters regarded as miracles from the Bible by distinguishing between the fact related and the author's opinion of it, by seeking a naturalistic exegesis of a narrative, e.g. that i-wi ttjs daXaad-qs (Matt. xiv. 25) means by the shore and not on the sea, by supplying circumstances omitted by the author, by remembering that the author produces as miracles occurrences which can now be explained otherwise, e.g. exorcisms. His Life of Jesus (1828) is a syn optical translation of the Gospels, prefaced by an account of the preparation for the Christ and a brief summary of His history, and accompanied by very short explanations interwoven in the translation. The form of the work was fatal to its success, and the subsequent Exegetisches Handbuch rendered it quite superfluous. In this Handbuch Paulus really contributed much to a true interpretation of the Gospel narratives. In 1803 he became professor of theology and Consistorialrat at Würzburg. After this he filled various posts in south Germany—school director at Bamberg (1807), Nuremberg (1808), Ansbach (1810)—until he became professor of exegesis and church history at Heidelberg (1811–1844). He died on the 10th of August 1851.

His chief exegetical works are his Philologisch-kritischer und historicher Kommentar über das Neue Testament (4 vols., 1800–1804); Philologischer Clavis über die Psalmen (1791); and Philologischer Clavis über Jesaias (1793); and particularly his Exegetisches Handbuch über die drei ersten Evangelien (3 vols., 1830–1833; 2nd ed., 1841–1842). He also edited a collected small edition of Baruch Spinoza’s works (1802–1803), a collection of the most noted Eastern travels (1792–1803), F. W. J. Schelling's Vorlesungen über die Offenbarung (1843), and published Skizzen aus meiner Bildungsund Lebensgeschichte (1839). See Karl Reichlin-Meldegg, H. E. G. Paulus und seine Zeit (1853), and article in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie; of. F. Lichtenberger, History of German Theology in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 21–24.