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Augustus Neander

Church historian

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Biography

 Augustus Neander
Source: www.librarything.com

Johann August Wilhelm Neander belonged to a Jewish family and originally bore the name of David Mendel. He changed his name to Neander when he became a Christian in 1806. A German Lutheran, he studied with F D. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) in Berlin, but soon switched his interest from speculative theology to church history.

After a year of teaching in Heidelberg (1812), he returned to Berlin as professor of ecclesiastical history (1813). Here he attracted many students not only by the quality of his scholarship but also by the spirit of piety he brought to his work and the interest he showed in the personal aspects of history. From the first he wrote extensively on historical themes, beginning with biographical studies of significant figures like Julian the Apostate (1812), Bernard of Clairvaux (1813), John Chrysostom (1822), and Tertullian (1824). Turning to a whole movement, he offered a history of Gnosticism in 1818. When F C. Baur and D. F Strauss introduced a rationalistic interpretation of the New Testament and early Christian history, he strongly opposed them. He wrote a Life of Christ (1837) in answer to the theory purported by Strauss in Life of Jesus (1835-1836) that the Gospel record is simply a myth in historical dress. With the maturing of his scholarship, Neander began to put together his more detailed monographs in broader historical works. His history of the apostolic age came out in two volumes under the title History of the Planting and Training of the Christian Church by the Apostles (1832-1833). Even before the publication of this work he had launched his most ambitious project, A General History of the Christian Religion and Church, which came out in six volumes beginning in 1826 and ending only after his death in 1852. Both these larger works were translated into English, the latter appearing in five volumes (1882) and the former in two volumes (1887-1888).

Neander had considerable influence not only in his own church and country but also further afield through the combination of scholarly excellence and personal interest that he achieved in his teaching and writing. This influence lived on in the American and English-speaking world through the historical work and writing of Philip Schaff (1819-1893), who studied and taught with Neander in Berlin prior to his appointment to Mercersburg in 1844. A basic conviction of Neander was that church history is not just an academic pursuit but part of the mission and ministry of the church.

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Works by Augustus Neander

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Neander believed that as a historian, he had a duty to retell Jesus' life story in writing. Like an artist who paints a picture of Jesus according to his or her vision, Neander was inspired to produce the image of Jesus as a historical teacher and figure. This investigation into the life and ministry of Jesus begins with his birth and childhood. From there, Neander explores the culture in which Jesus lived before his public ministry began. Then, Neander provides readers with a descriptive analysis of Christ's public ministry, first giving us a detailed account of Jesus' time in preparation for his ministry. While studying the public ministry of Christ, readers will discover fascinating details about Christ's method, his miracles, and his selection and training of the apostles. The author even examines the individual encounters that Jesus had in a variety of different cities that he visited during his ministry. Neander's historical investigation of Jesus' life and works in an incredibly edifying project that will enlighten Christians in their spiritual studies.

Augustus Neander began his religious studies in speculative theory, but his changing interests led him to the study of church history. In his book, Light in the Dark Places, Neander's talent as a writer and a historian is tremendously evident; collected within this volume is an abundance of remarkable information about church history. Neander shares information about the lives of Christian individuals and communities during times of darkness and of triumph. Neander also reveals unknown facts about early missionaries and martyrs of the church. This historical analysis will provide today's Christians with insight into the church's elaborate past, so that they may learn from previous mistakes and embrace habits of righteousness.

Augustus Neander began his religious studies in speculative theory, but his changing interests led him to the study of church history. As he became more invested in his historical studies, he embarked on a mission to put together a substantial work of practical commentaries on a selection of books from the Bible. His Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, Practically Explained is one part of this larger project. In his commentary on Paul's epistle, Neander shows us the circumstances under which Paul wrote his letter. The church of Philippi was the first church that Paul founded while in Macedonia. Neander discusses the nature of Paul's imprisonment in Rome and the affect this had on his relationship with the Philippian church. Through his systematic commentary, Neander is able to help readers discover new meaning in the message of Paul's epistle.

Augustus Neander began his religious studies in speculative theory, but his changing interests led him to the study of church history. As he became more invested in his historical studies, he embarked on a mission to put together a substantial work of practical commentaries on a selection of books from the Bible. His Epistle of James Practically Explained is one part of this larger project. In his commentary on James' epistle, Neander shows us James' personality as well as the nature of the churches he worked with. Little is known about the specific church to which James' epistle is addressed, but Neander explains that the Christians were of exclusively Jewish descent. As a result of their firm roots in Jewish theology, several confusions were generated about the truth of the Messiah amongst these Jewish converts. It was James' aim in his epistle to share the nature of true religion with his correspondents. Through his systematic commentary, Neander is able to help readers discover new meaning in the message of James' epistle.

In this book, Augustus Neander carefully explores practical and theoretical aspects of John's first epistle to the first century churches of Asia Minor against corruption. Neander begins by discussing the political and religious climate under which John writes the epistle. It was John's task to remind the early Christians that the person of Christ is central to a complete and full understanding of Christianity. By exposing John's epistle, Neander aims to awaken the Christian consciousness. He suggests that Christianity is a way of life, not just a religion, and that the Christian church is the family of God, rather than an institution of creeds and hierarchies. Neander's careful illustration of the writings of John truly illuminates their spiritual value. This book is part of a larger series containing Neander's commentaries on the books of Philippians and James.

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