Strauss, David Friedrich

Strauss, David Friedrich däˈvēt frēˈdrĭkh shtrous [key], 1808–74, German theologian and philosopher. In Berlin he studied (1831–32) Hegelian philosophy. As tutor at Tübingen he lectured on Hegel, modern philosophy, and Plato. His Das Leben Jesu (2 vol., 1835–36) aroused much interest because it applied the “myth theory” to the life of Jesus, treated the Gospel narrative like any other historical work, and denied all supernatural elements in the Gospels. It was translated into English in 1846 by George Eliot. In 1839, Strauss was appointed to a post at the Univ. of Zürich, but public opposition prevented him from taking it. His other theological writings include Die Christliche Glaubenslehre (2 vol., 1840–41) and Der alte und der neue Glaube (1872; tr. The Old Faith and the New, 1873). His writings mark a turning point in the critical study of the life of Jesus. Strauss was also the author of critical biographies of Ulrich von Hutten (3 vol., 1858–60) and Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1862).

See study by H. Harris (1974).

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