BAU'ER, BRUNO: A modern Biblical critic, of the most extreme radicalism; b. at Eisenberg (35 m. s. of Halle), in the duchy of Altenburg, Sept. 6, 1809; d. at Rixdorf, near Berlin, Apr. 15, 1882. He was educated in Berlin precisely in Hegel's most brilliant period. He took his place at first in the conservative wing of the Hegelian school, of which his teacher Marheineke was the leader, and reviewed the Leben Jesu of David Friedrich Strauss, who had been his fellow student, unfavorably, accusing Strauss of "entire ignorance of what criticism means." He undertook also to defend Marheineke's position by issuing (1836-38) the Zeitschrift für spekulative Theologie. In 1838 he published the Kritik der Geschichte der Offenbarung (2 vols., Berlin). A year later Altenstein, minister of public worship and instruction, appointed him to a position is the University of Bonn, and his prospects seemed promising. But he was already in a fair way to break with his past, as shortly appeared in his Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte des Johannes (Bremen, 1840) and Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker (3 vols., Leipsic,1841), which went beyond Strauss, and, adopting the theory of Wilke that Mark is the original gospel, derived the whole story, not, with Strauss, from the imagination of the primitive Christian community, but from that of a single mind. This extreme carrying out of Hegelian principles naturally aroused wide-spread excitement. Eichhorn, who had succeeded Altenstein as minister, put the question to the Prussian universities whether the holder of such views could be allowed to teach. The answers were not unanimous; but Bauer injured his own cause by a still more amazing and reckless onslaught on traditional theology (Theologische Schamlosigkeiten, in the Hallische Jahrbücher für deutsche Wissenschaft, Nov., 1841), and was deprived of his academic post in March, 1842. His literary activity continued incessant. Living on his small estate at Rixdorf, he poured forth a succession of volumes on the history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries between 1843 and 1849. In 1850 he came back to his old field, and in the next three years had renewed his attack on the gospels and included the Acts and the Pauline epistles, considering even the four admitted by the Tübingen school as second-century Western products. In the place of Christ and Paul, to him Philo, Seneca, and the Gnostics appeared the real creative forces in the evolution of Christian conceptions. He continued his attempts to prove the connection between Greco-Roman philosophy and Christianity in Christus und die Cäsaren (Berlin, 1877). Here he places the genesis of the Christian religion practically as late as the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and the original gospel in that of Hadrian, after which "clever men" were busy for some forty years in the composition of the Pauline epistles. Only the framework of the new religion was Jewish; its spirit came from further west; Christianity is really "Stoicism becoming dominant in a Jewish metamorphosis." Bauer left practically no followers in Germany for such remarkable theories. His fantastic hypercriticism found a home for a time in Holland with Allard Pierson, Naber, and Loman; and still later it made some attempts to gain a foothold in Switzerland with Steck's assault upon Galatians.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Holtzmann, in Protestantische Kirchenzeitung, 1882, pp. 540-545; F. C. Baur, Kirchengeschichte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipsic, 1862; O. Pfleiderer, Die Entwicklung der protestantischen Theologie in Deutschland seit Kant, pp. 295-297, Freiburg, 1891. On the teaching of Bauer and the opposition it aroused consult E. Bauer, Bruno Bauer and seine Gegner, Berlin, 1842; O. F. Gruppe, Bruno Bauer und die akademische Lehrfreiheit, ib. 1842.
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