German Education of Christian Scholar Philip Schaff: The Formative Years, 1819 - 1844

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The focus of this study is Philip Schaff (1819-1893), whose life spans two continents. Born in Switzerland and educated at German universities, as an immigrant scholar he had a distinguished American career as church historian, biblical scholar, apologist of Christianity, and fervent advocate of the reunion of the Christian churches.

This book offers for the first time a scholarly exploration of Philip Schaff’s German years of education, for, as the book demonstrates, only a thorough understanding of Schaff’s formative years will enable us to do full justice to his distinguished American career. His German education largely shaped his American career.

With its broad compass and with its focus on outstanding personalities and theological positions in nineteenth-century German Protestantism, this study therefore contributes to the ongoing scholarly discussion both of a significant figure in nineteenth century American Christianity and of German Protestantism in the nineteenth century’s first half, as it contributes to the important field of immigration studies. An extensive bibliography of relevant German literature is another contribution to scholarship by this book.


“No one has a better grasp of this complicated subject than Klaus Penzel. There is no other published work which has so perceptibly shown the impact of Schaff’s Swiss and German roots on his illustrious American career. In addition to the knowledgeable and clearly written text, the scholar will benefit from the ample bibliography and notes.” – John B. Payne, Lancaster Theological Seminary

"Until this volume, no one had written a scholarly and detailed exploration of Schaff's German years of education. The present study now fills that gap and adds more mosaic pieces to the picture of the founder of the American Society of Church History, Philip Schaff." - Church History “This present study fills that huge gap in Schaffian studies. I have often said that no one was better prepared than Klaus Penzel to do such a study. Penzel knows the theological side of Schaff better than anyone and is complete in his knowledge of nineteenth century Germany…..No longer can we Schaff scholars say that there is a background gap in our knowledge of the greatest church historian in nineteenth century United States. Penzel has answered out many questions about the eclectism of Philip Schaff and his concept of “evangelical Catholicism” leading toward the modern ecumenical movement…..[This work] makes a unique contribution to Schaff studies and to American Religious Studies.” – Dr. George H. Shriver, author of Philip Schaff: Christian Scholar and Ecumenical Prophet (Mercer Press, 1987, 2003).

Table of Contents

Preface (B. A. Gerrish),
A Swiss by Birth
1. Childhood at Chur (1819-1834)
A German by Education
2. Kornthal and Stuttgart (1834-1837): The Württemberg Awakening
3. German Theology in the 1830s: Schleiermacher’s and Hegel’s Long Shadow
4. Tübingen – Halle – Berlin (1837-1841): The Mediating Theology
5. Privatdozent at Berlin (1842-1844): The “Church Question”
An American by Choice
6. Called to Mercersburg Seminary in Pennsylvania (1844)
Epilogue: Schaff's American Career - An Appraisal

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