Johann Franz Buddeus

Johann Franz Buddeus

Johann Franz Buddeus, German Lutheran theologian and philosopher; born at Anklam, Swedish Pomerania, where his father was pastor, June 25, 1667; died at Gotha November 19, 1729.


He early received a thorough education in classical and Oriental languages, and had read the Bible through in the original before he went to the University of Wittenberg in 1685. He was appointed adjunct professor of philosophy there soon after taking his master's degree in 1687, and in 1689 exchanged this for a similar position at Jena, where he also paid much attention to the study of history. In 1692 he went to Coburg as professor of Greek and Latin, and the next year to the new University of Halle as professor of moral philosophy. Here he remained until 1705, when he went to Jena as second professor of theology. His lectures embraced all branches of this science, and frequently touched on philosophy, history, and politics. Respected by all as a man and a Christian, he remained at Jena for the rest of his life, several times acting as rector of the university temporarily and being head of his department and an ecclesiastical councilor from 1715.

He was considered the most universally accomplished German theologian of his time. In philosophy he professed an eclecticism which rested on a broad historical foundation; but he recognized in Descartes the originator of a new period, and in attacking the "atheist" Spinoza followed especially the upholders of the law of nature, such as Hugo Grotius, Puffendorf, and Thomasius. His theological position was determined by the tradition of Musæus at Jena, partly through his close relations with Baier; but on another side he was inclined toward Pietism. His association with Spangenberg, Spener, and Zinzendorf brought him under suspicion and actually gave rise to a formal investigation of his doctrine. In certain ways, too, he was influenced by the federalist theology, but without allowing it to lead him beyond the bounds of Lutheran orthodoxy. In all departments he showed himself a man of sound learning and scholarly instincts. His work was epoch-making in church history, especially that dealing with the Old Testament and the apostolic age. Taken as a whole, the life of Buddeus belongs to the transition period which follows that of simple orthodoxy; the influence of a new age and new leading interests appears in him, and at times he seems to be conscious of the change. Yet in his Biblical criticism he did not get so far as to make the slightest concession; not a verse of a canonical book can be touched without injuring the perfection of the whole. As an academic teacher he attained great success, and he had the gift of a striking and pregnant style, especially in Latin.


His works, great and small, number over a hundred. Of those published in the Halle period may be mentioned "Elementa philosophiæ practicæ" (1697) and "Elementa philosophiæ eclecticæ" (1703). To the second Jena period belong among others the "Institutiones theologiæ moralis" (1711; German transl., 1719), a work strictly in accordance with his philosophical ethics; the "Historia ecclesiastica veteris testamenti" (1715–18); "Theses theologicæ de atheismo et superstitione" (1716), which, directed especially against Spinoza, attracted much attention; "Institutiones theologiæ dogmaticæ", (1723), a work once very influential, obviously founded on Baier's Compendium; "Historische und theologische Einleitung in die vornehmsten Religionsstreitigkeiten" (1724, 1728), edited by Walch; "Isagoge historico-theologica ad theologiam universam" (1727), dealing with the problems methods, and history of theology in a way remarkable for that time; and "Ecclesia apostolica" (1729), intended as an introduction to the study of the New Testament.
* "Gesammelte Schriften" Reprint Hildesheim, Georg Olms, 1999-2006 (10 voll)


*Schaff-Herzog []

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