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Karl Rudolf Hagenbach

Karl Rudolf Hagenbach (March 4, 1801 - June 7, 1874), German church historian, was born at Basel, where his father was a practising physician.

His preliminary education was received at a Pestalozzian school, and afterwards at the gymnasium, whence in due course he passed to the newly reorganized local university. He early devoted himself to theological studies and the service of the church, while at the same time cherishing I and developing broad "humanistic" tendencies which found expression in many ways and especially in an enthusiastic admiration for the writings of Herder.

The years 1820-1823 were spent first at Bonn, where GCF Lucke (1791-1855) exerted a powerful influence on his thought, and afterwards at Berlin, where Schleiermacher and Neander became his masters. Returning in 1823 to Basel, where WML de Wette had recently been appointed to a theological chair, he distinguished himself greatly by his trial-dissertation, Observationes historico-hermeneuticae circa Origenis methodum interpretendae sacrae Scripturae; in 1824 he became professor extraordinarius, and in 1829 professor ordinarius of theology.

Apart from his academic labours in connexion with the history of dogma and of the church, he lived a life of great and varied usefulness as a theologian, a preacher and a citizen; and at his jubilee in 1873, not only the university and town of Basel but also the various churches of Switzerland united to do him honour. He died at Basel on the 7th of June 1874.

Hagenbach was a voluminous author in many departments, but he is specially distinguished as a writer on church history. Though neither so learned and condensed as the contributions of Gieseler, nor so original and profound as those of Neander, his lectures are clear, attractive and free from narrow sectarian prejudice. In dogmatics, while avowedly a champion of the mediation theology (Vermittelungstheologie), based upon the fundamental conceptions of Herder and Schleiermacher, he was much less revolutionary than were many others of hi's school. He sought to maintain the old confessional documents, and to make the objective prevail over the purely subjective manner of viewing theological questions. But he himself was aware that in the endeavour to do so he was not always successful, and that his delineations of Christian dogma often betrayed a vacillating and uncertain hand.

His works include:

The lectures on church history under the general title Vorlesungen über die Kirchengeschichte von der ältesten Zeit bis zum 19ten Jahrhundert were reissued in seven volumes (1868-1872). See especially the article in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.