Hermann Samuel Reimarus , born Dec. Appointed professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages at the Hamburg Gymnasium, or preparatory school , in , Reimarus made his house a cultural centre and meeting place for learned and artistic societies. Other fragments were published by several writers between and , occasionally under pseudonyms. Reimarus also offered a novel treatment of the life of Jesus. Jesus , he claimed, was a mere human afflicted by messianic illusions; after his death his body was stolen and hidden by his disciples to maintain his resurrection. Reimarus consistently denied miracles except for creation itself and claimed that the ethical doctrines necessary for the survival of human society were accessible to reason without the aid of revealed principles.
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Son of a scholar, grandson of a clergyman, student and son-in-law of J. Fabricius one of the staunchest defenders of orthodoxy of the time , Reimarus was for much of his life a professor of Oriental languages at the Hamburg academic Gymnasium. He lived during the period of the German Enlightenment, amidst the evolving discussion of the relation between reason and revelation. Reimarus's public religious views belong to that stage characterized by the philosophical synthesis of Christian Wolff: 1 revelation may be above reason but not contrary to it, and 2 reason establishes the criteria by which revelation may be judged, namely, necessity and consistency.
Publicly, Reimarus argued that the demands of a natural religion of reason only and those of Christianity agree with or complement one another. Natural religion, he contended, lays the ground for Christianity. At his death, a colleague would eulogize him as a defender of Christianity. Reimarus's private views of religion were not known even to his wife. They were part of the rationalism that contended that the criteria of reason judge revelation to be false.
Revelation is at odds with reason and must be displaced. Natural religion, he believed, replaces Christianity. Of the thirty-seven works that he wrote, this one alone has brought him renown. In it he accepts Wolff's contention that the two criteria of necessity and consistency must be satisfied by any alleged revelation before its genuineness can be accepted. He then sets out to show 1 that it is possible to describe the origins of Christianity as entirely natural not miraculous and therefore not necessary and 2 that any supposed revelation is filled with contradictions not logically consistent.
Reason thereby undermines the claims of the alleged Christian revelation. Seven fragments of this manuscript were published by G. Lessing between and Of these the two most influential were the sixth, "On the Resurrection Narratives" , which declares the revelation of the resurrection false on the basis of contradictions, and the seventh, "On the Intentions of Jesus and His Disciples" , which draws a distinction between the message and intention of Jesus and that of the early church.
Reimarus has influenced contemporary thought indirectly through Lessing, David F. Strauss, and Albert Schweitzer. The fragments of the Apologie caused Lessing to break with the eighteenth-century assumption that religious truth depended on the historicity of certain alleged events in scripture.
Lessing's position, in turn, influenced Kierkegaard, who maintained that Christian truth is established independently of one's estimate of the historical origins of Christianity by God's act in the moment, though history occasions that moment.
The fragments also caused Lessing to come to grips with the need for source criticism of the Gospels. The fragments played a role in Strauss's struggle to establish a mythical view of miracles.
Strauss used Reimarus to show that Christianity was not supernatural. As a result, Reimarus confronts the modern reader with the question of the historicity of the miracles.
The fragments also influenced Schweitzer in his work in the area of eschatology. Schweitzer turned to Reimarus to support his view that Jesus' orientation was eschatological, that Jesus expected an imminent end of the world, and that the delay of the Parousia was the main problem of early Christian theology, beginning with Jesus himself. Grappin, Pierre. Lundsteen, A. Copenhagen, Sieveking, Heinrich. Strauss, David F. Bonn, Talbert, Charles H.
Translated by Ralph S. Philadelphia, Includes my critical introduction pp. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 24, Retrieved May 24, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
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Reimarus, Hermann Samuel
Hermann Samuel Reimarus 22 December , Hamburg — 1 March , Hamburg , was a German philosopher and writer of the Enlightenment who is remembered for his Deism , the doctrine that human reason can arrive at a knowledge of God and ethics from a study of nature and our own internal reality, thus eliminating the need for religions based on revelation. He denied the supernatural origin of Christianity ,  and was the first influential critic to investigate the historical Jesus. Reimarus was educated by his father and by the scholar J. Fabricius , whose son-in-law he subsequently became. He attended school at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus
He was educated by his father and by the famous scholar J. Fabricius, whose son-in-law he subsequently became. He studied theology, ancient languages, and philosophy at Jena, became Privatdozent in the university of Wittenberg in , and in visited Holland and England. In he became rector of the high school at Wismar in Mecklenburg, and in professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages in the high school of his native city. This post he held till his death, though offers of more lucrative positions were made to him. His duties were light, and he employed his leisure in the study of philology, mathematics, philosophy, history, political economy, natural science and natural history, for which he made large collections.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus - Encyclopedia