Page:Modern Rationalism (1897).djvu/49

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



enunciation of the position which the majority of orthodox divines were ultimately to adopt. De Wette and Neander were also aggregated to the new University. Ewald was the next prominent figure in the critical movement. Like Eichhorn, he was an orthodox but advanced critic, who held aloof from theological quarrels, and continued his investigations with a sincere fearlessness of consequences. In 1823 he opposed both the current theories of the origin of Genesis, which was then the main object of controversy; but modified his position eight years afterwards. He also advanced the theory that the Song of Songs was a sort of popular drama, a cantata describing the victory of true love. The year 1835 was marked by the appearance of Strauss famous "Leben Jesu," and Vatke's 11 Biblische Theologie." Vatke was a pronounced Hegelian, and his later speculations are said to have found little favour. His association with the "Fragmentary theory" of Genesis gives him an important place in the development of criticism. Bleek, Hengstenberg, Hupfeld, and F. Delitzsch played the part of foils to the zeal of their more Rationalistic colleagues. Of the latter, Canon Cheyne says that whatever concessions he made to the critics were literally "wrung from him." Riehm was also prominent on the orthodox side, and Reuss did much to popularize the critical theories. Lagarde, Kuenen, Stade, and Wellhausen bring the critical tradition to the actual generation; of the New Testament critics and Christologists we shall speak afterwards. Wellhausen is a typical Rationalist, and the ablest and most influential critic of the modern school. Lagarde, though called one of the founders of the new Hexateuch criticism, remained in the orthodox ranks in an advanced position. Kuenen, the celebrated Dutch critic of Leyden University, was a theologian of firm and reverent faith, but, like Lagarde, his ideal was a pure ethical Theism; he had no sympathy with traditional forms of Christianity, and considered all dogmatic supernaturalism untenable; hence his criticism, ever cautious and fundamentally reverent, was of the most uncompromising character.

In England there was no corresponding development of the critical methods. During the preceding century three theologians had manifested Rationalistic tendencies. Bishop