Over the course of thirty years, Hermann Samuel Reimarus () secretly drafted what would become the most thorough attack on revelation to date. REIMARUS, HERMANN SAMUEL (–), German theologian and philosopher. Son of a scholar, grandson of a clergyman, student and son-in-law of J. A. Whilst Hermann Samuel Reimarus has justly received a chapter in the history of biblical criticism, he has lacked a dedicated treatment of his.

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Hermann Samuel Reimarus December 22, – March 1,was a German philosopher and writer of the Enlightenment who is remembered for his Deismthe doctrine that human reason can arrive at a knowledge of God and ethics from a study of nature and humanity’s own internal reality, so that one does not need religions based on revelation.

Reimarus denied all miracles and mysteries except the creation itself. He held that the essential truths of smauel religion were the existence of a wise and good Creator and the immortality of the soul, truths which were discoverable by reason and could constitute the basis of a universal religion. He believed that a revealed religion could never become universal, because it could never be hermxnn and credible to all men. Even supposing that a revealed religion could be universally intelligible and credible, the Bible did not present such a revelation.

It abounded in factual errors; contradicted human experience, as reason and morals; and was a fabric woven of folly, deceit, enthusiasm, selfishness and crime. Moreover, the Bible was not a doctrinal compendium, or catechism, which a true revelation would have to be. Some writers, including Albert Schweitzercredit Reimarus with initiating the scholarly investigation of the historical Jesus. Reimarus was born in Hamburg, Germany, December 22, He was educated by his father and by the scholar, J.

Fabricius, whose son-in-law he subsequently became. He studied theology, ancient languages, and philosophy at the University of Jena, became Privatdozent at the University of Wittenberg inand in visited the Netherlands and England.

Inhe became rector of the high school at Wismar in Mecklenburg, and inwas appointed professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages at his native city’s high school. Although he was offered more lucrative positions saamuel other schools, he held this post until his death.

His duties were light; and he employed his leisure in the study of philologymathematics, philosophyhistorypolitical economy, science, and natural history, for which he made large collections.

Hremann house was the center of the highest culture of Hamburg; and a monument of his influence in that city still remains in the Haus der patriotischen Gesellschaft, where the learned and artistic societies partly founded by him still meet.

He had seven children, only three of whom survived him: He died on March 1, Reimarus’s reputation as a scholar rests on the valuable edition of Dio Cassius which he prepared from the materials collected by J.

He published a work on logic Vernunftlehre als Anweisung zum richtigen Gebrauche der Vernunft, 5th ed. In addition to the seven fragments published by Lessing, a second portion of the work was issued ineamuel C.

Two of the five books of the first part and the whole of the second part, as well as appendices on the canon, remain unprinted. Strauss has given an exhaustive analysis of the whole work in his book on Reimarus.


The Apologie was written from a viewpoint reimxrus pure naturalistic deismdenying the existence of miracles and mysteries except the creation itself, claiming that all the ethical doctrines essential to the survival of human society could be arrived at through the use of reason, without the aid of revelation, and hwrmann natural religion as the absolute contradiction of revealed religion. Reimarus held that the essential truths of riemarus religion were the existence of a wise and good Creator and the immortality of the soul, truths which were discoverable by reason and could constitute the basis of a universal religion.

A revealed religion, in contrast, could never become universal, because it could never be intelligible and credible to all humanity. Samiel, the Bible was not a doctrinal compendium, or catechism, which a revelation would have to be.

The Old Testament said very little samuuel the worship of Godand the little that it did say was worthless; the writers of the Old Testament were unacquainted with the second fundamental truth of religion, the immortality of the soul. The intention of the writers of the New Testamentas well as that of Jesuswas not to teach true rational religion, but to promote their own selfish ambitions with an amazing combination of conscious fraud and enthusiasm.

It is important, however, to remember that Reimarus attacked atheism with equal effect and sincerity, and that he was a man of high moral character, respected and esteemed by his contemporaries. Albert Schweitzer claimed that the development, among theologians and scholars, of a critical attitude towards orthodox concepts of the nature and mission of Jesus began with the work of Reimarus.

In fact, the thought of Reimarus was representative of the way in which the Enlightenment regarded the life of Jesus.

Luther had not so much as felt that he cared to gain a clear idea of the order of the recorded events…. The only Life of Jesus written prior to the time of Reimarus which has any interest for us, was composed by a Jesuit in the Persian language.

In the seventeenth century germann Persian text was brought to Europe by a merchant, and was translated into Latin by Louis de Dieu, a theologian of the Reformed Church, whose intention in publishing it was to discredit Catholicism. Historia Christi reimzrus conscripts simulqwe mvltis modis contaminata a Hieronymo Xavier, lat. It is a skillful falsification of the life of Jesus in which the omissions, and the additions taken from the Apocrypha, are inspired by the sole purpose rekmarus presenting to the open-minded ruler a glorious Jesus, in whom there should be reimaruz to offend him.

Hermann Samuel Reimarus | German philosopher |

Thus there had been nothing to prepare the world for a work of such power as that of Reimarus. Not much is known about Reimarus. In Lessing began to publish the most important portions of it, and up to had published seven fragments, thereby involving himself in a quarrel with Goetze, the Chief Pastor of Hamburg.

To say that the fragment on “The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples” is a magnificent piece of work is barely to do it justice. This essay is not only one of the greatest events in the history of criticism, it is also a masterpiece of general literature. The language is as a rule crisp and terse, pointed and epigrammatic—the language of a man who is not “engaged in literary composition” but is wholly concerned with the facts.


At times, however, it rises to heights of passionate feeling, and then it is as though the fires of a volcano were painting lurid pictures upon dark clouds.

Seldom has there been a hate so eloquent, so lofty a scorn; but then it is seldom that a work has been written in the just consciousness of so absolute a superiority to contemporary opinion.

And withal, there is dignity and serious purpose; Reimarus’ work is no pamphlet.

Hermann Samuel Reimarus

It was Lessing’s greatness that he grasped the significance of this criticism, and felt that it must lead either to the destruction or to the recasting of the idea of revelation. He recognized that the introduction of the historical element would transform and deepen rationalism.

Convinced that the fateful moment had arrived, he disregarded the scruples of Reimarus’ family and the objections of Nicolai and Mendelssohn, and, though inwardly trembling for that which he himself held sacred, he flung the torch with his own hand.

Modern estimates of Reimarus may be found in the works of B. Immortality is founded upon the essential nature of man and upon the purpose of God in creation. Religion is conducive to our happiness and alone brings satisfaction.

Pfleiderer’s critiques of Reimarus were that he ignored historical and literary criticism, sources of documents and the narratives that were said to be either purely divine or purely human. Pfleiderer felt Reimarus had no concept of an immanent reason Philosophy of Religion, Eng. Moreover, such a thing is both physically and morally impossible. God cannot interrupt His own work by miracles; nor can He favour some men above others by revelations which are not granted to all, and with which it is not even possible for all to become acquainted.

But of all doctrines that of eternal punishment is most contrary, Reimarus thinks, to true ideas of God; and it was this point which first caused him to stumble” History of Modern Phil, Eng. The History of the Investigations of Its Problems, p. New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation.

To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:. Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. Next Hermann von Helmholtz. Credits New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here: History of “Hermann Samuel Reimarus” Note: Hermann 1 Life 2 Thought and works 3 Philosophical Position 3.