Hans Lassen Martensen


Hans Lassen Martensen

Hans Lassen Martensen (August 19, 1808February 3, 1884) was a Danish divine and academic.

Early life

Martensen was born in a middle-class Lutheran family in Flensburg, Duchy of Schleswig (now Germany), as their only son. At that time Flensburg was a duchy between Prussia and Denmark. He grew up in a German-speaking society, while his father who was a schoolmaster, writer and sea-captain preferred to use Danish. Consequently the young Martensen upbrought in a multicultural situation and reconciliation of different cultures became his one of central interests through his life. [Stephan Hobhouse, "Editor's introduction to "Jacob Boehme", Rockliff, 1949, xvi.]

He studied theology in Copenhagen, and later was ordained in the Danish Church. From 1834 till 1836 he travelled foreign countries. He visited several cities including Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Paris He met influential intellects including Hegel, David Strauss, Franz von Baader and Schelling. During his travel, he began to read mystics, Eckhart, Tauler and Boehme. Also he studied Dante's "The Divine Comedy" with a great interest. [Stephan Hobhouse, "Editor's introduction to "Jacob Boehme", Rockliff, 1949, xviif.]

As theologian and clergyman

At Copenhagen he was lektor in theology in 1838, professor extra-ordinarius in 1840, court preacher also in 1845, and professor ordinarius in 1850. Once he was offered to a bishopric from Swedish Church but declined. In 1854 however he gave up his educational career and was made bishop of Seeland, the Danish Primate. In his studies he had come under the influence of Schleiermacher, Hegel and Franz von Baader; but he was a man of independent mind, and developed a peculiar speculative theology which showed a disposition towards mysticism and theosophy.

His contributions to theological literature included treatises on Christian ethics and dogmatics, on moral philosophy, on baptism, and a sketch of the life of Jakob Boehme, who exercised so marked an influence on the mind of the great English theologian of the 18th century, William Law. Martensen was a distinguished preacher, and his works were translated into various languages. The "official" eulogy he pronounced upon Bishop Jakob P. Mynster (1775–1854) in 1854, in which he affirmed that the deceased man was one of the authentic truth-witnesses of Christianity to have appeared in the world since apostolic times brought down upon his head the invectives of the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (thus triggering the father of existentialism's attack on official Christendom).

Martensen died on February 3, 1884 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Icelandic theologian Magnús Eiríksson (1806–1881), who lived from 1831 until his death in Copenhagen, was very critical to Martensen’s speculative theology, which he violently attacked in various publications from 1844 to 1850.

Works

* "Grundriss des Systems der Moralphilosophie" (1841; 3rd ed., 1879; German, 1845)
* "Die christliche Taufe und die baptistische Frage" (2nd ed., 1847; German, 2nd ed., 1860)
* "Den Christelige Dogmatik" (4th ed., 1883; Eng. trans., 1866; German by himself, 4th ed., 1897)
* "Christliche Ethik" (1871; Eng. trans., Part I. 1873, Part II. 1881 seq.)
* "Hirtenspiegel" (1870-1872)
* "Katholizismus und Protestantismus" (1874)
* "Jacob Boehme; Studies in his Life and Teaching" (1882; Eng. trans., 1885, reprint 1949)An autobiography, "Aus meinem Leben", appeared in 1883, and after his death the "Briefwechsel zwischen Martensen und Dorner".

References

*1911


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