Schleiermacher’s exegetical theology and the new testament

Christine Helmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


When compared to the intense study of his theological and philosophical works, Schleiermacher’s contributions to exegetical theology have enjoyed relatively little scholarly attention. One reason might be the towering status of the theological works, the Christian Faith and Brief Outline, as well as the philosophical texts, the Dialectic and the Hermeneutics, works which have dwarfed Schleiermacher’s own detailed interpretations of specific New Testament books and passages. Another reason might be the cool reception of his published exegetical works. Soon after his death, critical voices raised concern about Schleiermacher’s imposition of dogmatic categories onto his hermeneutical efforts. Yet another reason might be the small number of exegetical works chosen for publication in Reimer’s Sämtliche Werke or in the current Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Although Schleiermacher lectured almost every semester on the New Testament between 1804 and 1834, only a fraction of his exegetical works have been published. In spite of the marginalized posthumous reception, Schleiermacher was considered to be at the forefront of New Testament scholarship in his time. In conversation with the nascent early nineteenth-century research on the Synoptics, Schleiermacher proposed a theory of Synoptic dependence resting on orally transmitted stories about Jesus prior to their redaction by the New Testament authors. In regard to I Timothy, Schleiermacher showed that the apostle Paul was not its author, thereby paving the way for critical deuteropauline scholarship. Similarly, Schleiermacher’s research on the parallel structure of Colossians 1:15-20 set the literary parameters for research on this text well into the late twentieth century. Furthermore, he was the first theologian to offer public lectures on the life of Jesus, lectures which were unfortunately published in 1864, right before D. F. Strauss’ devastating critique the following year. Last but not least, for the English-speaking world, Schleiermacher’s Commentary on Luke was his first work to be translated into English.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to
Subtitle of host publicationFriedrich Schleiermacher
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139000796
ISBN (Print)0521814480, 9780521814485
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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