Karl Immanuel Nitzsch - Encyclopedia

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KARL IMMANUEL NITZSCH (1787-1868), Lutheran divine, was born at the small Saxon town of Borna near Leipzig on the 21st of September 1787. His father, Karl Ludwig Nitzsch (1751-1831), who at that time was pastor and superintendent in Borna, and afterwards (1790) became professor at Wittenberg and director (1817) of the seminary for preachers, has also left a name of some distinction in the theological world by a number of writings, among which may be mentioned a work entitled De discrimine revelationis imperatoriae et didacticae prolusiones academicae (2 vols., 1830). Theologically, he represented a combination of supernaturalism and rationalism (supernatural rationalism or a Kantian rational supernaturalism). Karl Immanuel was sent to study at Schulpforta in 1803, whence he proceeded to the university of Wittenberg in 1806. In 1809 he graduated, and in 1810 he became a Privatdozent at the university. Having become diaconus at the Schlosskirche in 1811, he showed remarkable energy and zeal during the bombardment and siege of the city in 1813. In 1817 he was appointed one of the preceptors in the preachers' seminary which had been established at Wittenberg after the suppression of the university. From 1820 to 1822 he was superintendent in Kemberg, and in the latter year he was appointed professor ordinarius of systematic and practical theology at Bonn. Here he remained until called to succeed Marheineke at Berlin in 1847; subsequently he became university preacher, rector of the university, provost of St Nicolai (in 1854) and member of the supreme council of the church, in which last capacity he was one of the ablest and most active promoters of the Evangelical Union. He died on the 21st of August 1868. He represented the Vermittelungstheologie of the school of Schleiermacher.

His SOn, Friedrich August Nitzsch (b. 1832), was made professor ordinarius of theology at Giessen in 1868 and at Kiel in 1872. He was the author of Grundriss der christl. Dogmengeschichte (1870, incomplete) and Das System des Boethius (1860), amongst other works.

Karl Nitzsch's principal works are: System der christlichen Lehre (1829; 6th ed., 1851; Eng. trans., 1849), Praktische Theologie (1847-1860; 2nd ed., 1863-1868), Akademische Vortrage fiber christliche Glaubenslehre (1858) and several series of Predigten. " He took as his starting-point the fundamental thought of Schleiermacher, that religion is not doctrine but life, direct consciousness, feeling. At the same time he sought to bring religious feeling into closer connexion with knowledge and volition than Schleiermacher had done; he laid special stress - and justly - on the recognition of a necessary and radical union of religion with morality, treating both dogmatics and ethics together accordingly in his System der christlichen Lehre" (Otto Pfleiderer, Development of Theology, p. 123). His Protestantische Beantwortung, a reply to the Symbolik of Johann Adam Mahler (1796-1838), which originally appeared in the Studien u. Kritiken, of which he was one of the founders, may also be mentioned.

See Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopadie, and the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie; F. Lichtenberger, History of German Theology in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 185-196.

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