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NEANDER, JOHANN AUGUST WILHELM:

German Church historian; born at Göttingen Jan. 17, 1789; died at Berlin July 14, 1850. Prior to his baptism his name was "David Mendel," and on his mother's side he was related to Moses Mendelssohn. He attended the gymnasium at Hamburg, where he had for his associates Varnhagen von Ense and Adelbert von Chamisso. At the age of seventeen he embraced Christianity. After studying theology at Halle under Schleiermacher, and at Göttingen, he established himself as a privat-docent at Heidelberg in 1811, and in the following year was appointed assistant professor of theology. At this time he published his monograph, "Ueber den Kaiser Julianus und Sein Zeitalter." In 1813 he was appointed professor of Church history in the newly established University of Berlin, and published his monograph on St. Bernard. This was followed by his essays on the Gnostics in 1818 and St. Chrysostom in 1822, in which latter year appeared his "Denkwürdigkeiten aus der Geschichte des Christenthums und des Christlichen Lebens," a third edition of which was issued in 1845. In 1825 his great work, "Allgemeine Geschichte der Christlichen Religion und Kirche," began to appear at Hamburg, the last volume of which, the eleventh, was not issued until 1852. An English translation by Torrey, in five volumes, was published at Boston in 1847-51. His "Gesch. der Pflanzung und Leitung der Christlichen Kirche Durch die Apostel" appeared in 1833; his "Leben Jesu" in 1837. These two works are practically introductions to his "Allgemeine Geschichte." Two other works of his were published posthumously, "Wissenschaftliche Abhandlungen" (1851) and "Christliche Dogmengeschichte" (1857).

Neander's works, most of which have been translated into English, have secured for him a lasting place among the greatest ecclesiastical historians. He has come to be regarded as the father of modern Church history. His "Leben Jesu" was written as an answer to the "Leben Jesu" of David Friedrich Strauss, which had been submitted to him by the government for his opinion as to its heretical character, and as to whether it should be prohibited. His answer to the government will be ever memorable: "Scholarly works are to be fought with the weapons of science, not by the power of the state." When the Jews of Damascus were being persecuted in 1846, and the old "blood accusation" was revived, he publicly and vigorously denounced the "medieval lie."

Bibliography:
  • Hagenbach, Neander's Verdienste um die Kirchengeschichte, in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1851;
  • Otto Krabbe, August Neander, Hamburg, 1852;
  • J. L. Jacobi, Erinnerungen an A. Neander, 1882.
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