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Dogmen- und Theologiegeschichte


Fischer, Hermann


Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher.


München: Beck 2001. 168 S. m. Abb. 8 = Beck'sche Reihe, 563: Denker. Kart. ¬ 12,50. ISBN 3-406-45974-9.


Richard Crouter

This concisely argued, yet highly readable, brief introduction to Friedrich Schleiermacher will soon supplant Martin Redeker's, Friedrich Schleiermacher. Leben und Werk (1768-1834), Berlin 1968 (Englisch: Life and Thought, Philadelphia 1973). Drawing from a distinguished scholarly career that includes oversight of the new critical Schleiermacher edition (de Gruyter), Hermann Fischer does more than present the leading ideas and works of Schleiermacher. He provides a reliable guide to their historical contexts and internal correlations, while explaining how the works relate to Schleiermacher's system of philosophical and theological sciences. Largely descriptive and encyclopedic, the book's rich account of Schleiermacher's published and unpublished texts points to current editions and secondary literature in a manner that will pay large dividends to a diligent reader.

A fitting epigraph from Foucault suggests that Schleiermacher's projects arose from and reflect a remarkably well-invested life. After a brief introduction (11-14), the biographical setting is given (15-50), followed by the core of the book on the philosophical-theological works (51-135), and concluding with a sketch of Schleiermacher's reception (136-151). To thus glimpse Schleiermacher in the full round is to revisit his significant theological and philosophical choices and to sense afresh his unswerving devotion to a theology, with its related disci- plines, that serves the church. Novice students of Schleiermacher are provided with an up-to-date map of the terrain, while specialists can admire or quarrel over aspects of Schleiermacher with which they are familiar, aided by a master of the craft.

Alongside its detailed profile of the works, Hermann Fischer's Schleiermacher portrayal invites a reader to reflect on perennial issues. E. g., does the romanticism of the young Schleiermacher yield entirely to the system-building tasks of his maturity? Or are romantic sensibility and enlightenment reason yoked together from beginning to end - if one ventures to judge Schleiermacher's temper of mind overall? If Protestant theology has not accepted Schleiermacher's "problematic" placement of dogmatics within historical theology, is this striking departure justified on grounds that lie beyond, or possibly within, Schleiermacher's corpus? If the way The Christian Faith treats some New Testament beliefs, e. g., resurrection, ascension and parousia, rests on unduly rationalistic assumptions, can this be rectified without seriously distorting the theologian's way of thinking about theology, the supernatural aspects of tradition, and the task of dogmatics?

Lastly, a minor puzzlement and omission may be noted in light of the book's remarkably thorough overview of the corpus. Schleiermacher's Letters on the Occasion (1799, KGA I.2), which significantly engages Jewish emancipation in Berlin, goes unmentioned. Yet this small book, 64-pages in the original, approaches contemporary Judaism in a manner that is arguably more open-ended and politically responsible, if not theologically favorable, than is done in the Speeches.