What is Christianity? Lectures Delivered in the University of Berlin during the Winter-Term 1899-1900.

by Adolf Harnack


Harnack’s lectures sought to answer the question, “What is Christianity?” in a purely historical way. In the centuries before, scholars, clergy, and laypersons turned to their Bibles or their church’s creeds for the answer. For Harnack, examining Christianity with the tools of historical criticism signified a return to true Christianity, which had become mired in unnecessary and even damaging creeds and dogmas. Learning the raw historical facts, for him, was one way to strip away all but the foundations of the faith. In his lectures, then, Harnack spoke in terms of facts rather than tradition. Instead of looking to evangelize his audience, he looks to build up their understanding of the Christian religion as an historical force, moving through and shaping the times.

Kathleen O’Bannon

CCEL Staff

About Adolf Harnack

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Picture of Adolf Harnack
Picture of Adolf Harnack
Source: Wikipedia
Born: May 7, 1851
Died: June 10, 1930
Related topics: Christianity--Essence, genius, nature, Church history--Primitive and early church, Criticism, interpretation, etc., Christianity, Germany, …
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