"Dass doch die Menschen sich immer in Extremen gefallen!": Der Vermittlungstheologe Karl Rudolf Hagenbach (1801–1874)
Keywords:Karl Rudolf Hagenbach, Mediating Theology, Theological Textbooks, Church History, Basel, 19th century
Karl Rudolf Hagenbach (born in Basel in 1801, also died there in 1870) was at his time one of the best known representatives of the Mediating Theology in German- speaking Europe. Mediating theologians tried to combine the traditional Protestantism of the Reformation Confessions with modern science, philosophy and historical scholarship. Hagenbach’s theological thinking was influenced by his lecturers August Neander and Friedrich Schleiermacher whom he met as a student in Berlin. Back in his hometown he worked as a lecturer for more than 50 years at the theological faculty at the University of Basel. In doing so, he gained an excellent reputation as church historian. Thanks to his literary work Hagenbach became well-known beyond the borders of Europe: in the second half of the 19th century the “Encyklopädie und Methodologie der theologischen Wissenschaften” (first published in 1833) and the “Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte” (first volume published in 1840) – translated into many languages and receiving numerous new editions – became very popular also abroad. Current English-speaking research points out Hagenbach’s lasting influence on the changing fields of church history and academic theology in America. This remarkable success is based on the principle of Mediating Theology: by crossing ideological boundaries Hagenbach presented a plurality of theological thoughts and methods, thereby students were invited to form their own opinion. This biographical sketch reflects Hagenbach’s education, his theological line of thinking as well as the impact and reception of his textbooks. At least it is an attempt to approach the individual spirit of this remarkable personality.