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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: January 2010

10 - Rhetoric and substance in Schleiermacher's revision of The Christian Faith (1821–1822)


The search for the center of Schleiermacher's thought in The Christian Faith has long been a major preoccupation of Schleiermacher research. Our efforts to grasp the precise nature of the relationship between Christian conviction and scientific or philosophical reflection in Schleiermacher's dogmatics continue to be a subject of scholarly controversy. At stake is the relative balance between its being a confessional work (Schleiermacher's Reformed side) and a philosophically grounded work (which in some respects approximates a natural theology). An interpreter must decide whether a Calvin or a Tillich is the proper model to have in mind when reading Schleiermacher or, if his work exemplifies a mixture of both tendencies, what constitutes its center – the linchpin that holds it together. This essay does not aim at final adjudication of the adequacy of Schleiermacher's dogmatics as much as at a preliminary issue: the bearing of his work as redactor on the theological substance of his thought. Such an inquiry can, I think, shed useful light on the origin and development of the seminal work of modern Protestantism.

It is odd that in an age of sophisticated literary detection the first edition of The Christian Faith (1821–2) has been so little studied. At the turn to the twentieth century several German scholars called our attention to important differences between the original version and the 1830–1 edition.