Christian theologian, philosopher, and historian; born Sept. 6, 1809, at Eisenburg, duchy of Saxe-Altenburg; died April 13, 1882, at Rixdorf, near Berlin.
While Bauer regarded emancipation from the thraldom of medievalism as the object of modern civilization, he had no sympathy whatsoever with the Jews' struggle for political, social, and religious emancipation. At the time when the Jews of Germany strove hard to obtain their long-withheld political freedom and equality, and when many, in order to assert their full claim to citizenship, went so far as to urge the rejection of every vestige of Orientalism from their religious life, Bauer published anarticle in the "Deutsche Jahrbücher," 1842, on the Jewish question, afterward republished with additions, as a separate book under the title "Die Judenfrage," Brunswick, 1843, in which he sides with the bitterest enemies of the Jews. He finds the continual oppression of the Jews by the Christian state perfectly justified. He declares that by their loyalty to their own history they stand in opposition to the powers that be, because religion and race force them to live in perpetual separation from the rest of mankind, and that the fact of their being Jews prevents them from being perfect men. Judaism, whether it be based on the Mosaic or the Talmudic law, has, in Bauer's opinion, no claim to a share in the world's progress and freedom; since, by its very nature, it is "stability immovable as the hills." Nor, indeed, says he, have the Jews ever contributed anything to the work of civilization; Spinoza was no longer a Jew when he wrote his "Ethics"; and Maimonides and Mendelssohn were no thinkers at all. He ridicules the Reform movement among the modern Jews, and denies them the very right of modernization. Thus, in his opinion, there is absolutely no salvation for the Jew, not even if he should join the Christian majority. Bauer's mode of dealing with the Jewish question is significant as an instance of German liberalism. A similar article by him in Wagener's "Staatslexikon," reprinted in pamphlet form under the title "Das Judenthum in der Fremde," Berlin, 1863, is characterized by the writer of the article on Bauer in Herzog-Hauck's "Real-Encyklopädie," 1897, as "rich in contents and noteworthy"; whereas Steinschneider, in his "Hebräische Bibliographie," vi. 6, deplores the fact that "a liberal man of originally eminent talent could sink so low as to lend his name to such twaddle."
Bauer's attack on the Jews evoked replies from Gabriel Riesser in Weil's "Constitutionelle Jahrbücher," ii. and iii.; Samuel Hirsch, "Das Judenthum, der Christliche Staat und die Moderne Kritik, Briefe zur Beleuchtung der Judenfrage," Leipsic, 1843; G. Salomon, "Bruno Bauer und Seine Gehaltlose Kritik," 1843; W. Freund, "Zur Judenfrage," 1843; S. Holdheim, in his "Autonomie der Rabbiner," 1843; K. Gruen, "Gegen B. Bauer," Darmstadt, 1844; and last, but not least, from Abraham Geiger, in his "Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Jüdische Theologie," v. 199-259, 325-371—a rich literature which contains valuable material for the history of Jewish emancipation and reform.
- Herzog-Hauck's Real-Encyklopädie, s. v. Bauer, Bruno;
- Jost, Neuere Gesch. der Israeliten, i. 301-304;
- M. Isler, in Gabriel Riesser's Gesammelte Schriften, 1867, i. 364-366. For a very instructive critique by Steinthal of Bauer's Philo und Christus, from a Jewish point of view, see Lazarus and Steinthal, Zeitschr. für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft, 1878, x. 409-469.