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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: May 2018

Chapter Seven - Troeltsch as Dogmatic Theologian


Ernst Troeltsch and the ‘Systematic Theology of the History of Religion School’

Although he was an extraordinary polymath who dabbled in many different areas of theology, philosophy and history, Ernst Troeltsch spent most of his career as a teacher of systematic theology. At Heidelberg University, where he was professor from 1894 to 1915, Troeltsch lectured regularly (usually five times per week) on systematic theology beginning in the summer semester of 1894 with a lecture course on ‘Christliche Dogmatik’. This course was continued as ‘Dogmatik’ along with lectures on Friedrich Schleiermacher's life and teaching (winter semester of 1894– 95). In the summer semester of 1895 he taught history of Protestant theology in the nineteenth century and ethics. This was followed by the ‘History of Dogma’ (winter semester of 1895– 96) and then ‘Glaubenslehre’ (Teaching of the faith) in the summer semester of 1896. This course was continued in the next semester (‘Glaubenslehre’ II) along with a course on ‘Symbolik’, or study of the distinct confessions of the faith. He also offered a course on ‘Theologische Encyclopädie’ (which might best be translated as ‘Outline of Theology’) from the winter semester of 1897– 98. These courses, along with regular lectures on ethics and philosophy of religion, were repeated on an annual basis right through his time in Heidelberg, with the final lectures on ‘Glaubenslehre’ II being given in the winter semester of 1914– 15. In total the lectures on ‘Glaubenslehre’ or ‘Dogmatik’ were given eleven times; ‘History of Dogma’ six times (finishing in the winter semester of 1905– 6); ‘Symbolik’ nine times (finishing in the summer semester of 1913); ‘History of Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century’ (five times until summer semester of 1909); and ‘Theologische Encyclopädie’ (five times until winter semester of 1905– 6).

Although his publications in other areas certainly outnumbered his writings on dogmatics, Troeltsch's reputation as a teacher depended on his lectures on systematic theology and ethics (which in the German division of theology is also usually included as a branch of systematic theology). He also contributed many articles on dogmatic themes to the first edition of the magnum opus of the history of religion school, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, which was published between 1909 and 1913 by J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) and edited by Friedrich Michael Schiele und Leopold Zscharnack.