Anton Birlinger

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Anton Birlinger

Anton Birlinger (born January 14, 1834 in Wurmlingen near Rottenburg am Neckar , † June 15, 1891 in Bonn ) was a German Catholic theologian and Germanist .

Live and act

Birlinger studied Catholic theology and German at the University of Tübingen from 1854 to 1858 . He then went to the Rottenburg seminary and was ordained a priest there in 1859. In 1861 he went to Munich to continue his German studies with Alois Josef Vollmer (1803–1876). He immediately emerged through a collection of idioms and sagas , but also through his own literary attempts, and finally as the editor of folklore works and dialect dictionaries. In Munich he also came under the influence of an enlightened theology on a scientific basis and with the willingness to contradict dogmas coming from Rome ( Ignaz von Döllinger , Johann Nepomuk Huber , Johann Friedrich , Jakob Frohschammer and Joseph Anton Messmer ).

Shortly after the lost war against Prussia , Birlinger went from Munich to the University of Breslau , to which anti- infallible theology professors had been appointed and which was considered a center of criticism of Roman Catholicism (anti- ultramontanism ). Only Johann Anton Theiner (1799–1860) and the later Old Catholics Joseph Hubert Reinkens and Johann Baptist Baltzer are mentioned here . The questions of university and religious policy were now posed differently: between radical German-Catholic demands for democracy and religious freedom and Sailer's theology of a prince-bishop full of mystical flower beds ( Melchior von Diepenbrock ), this professor's rebellion was about not tolerating any curtailment of academic freedom.

Birlinger turned to the doyen of proverb research on a scientific basis, to Karl Simrock at the University of Bonn. On his recommendation he received his habilitation in Bonn in 1869 - and in 1872 he became an extraordinary professor for German philology there.

Together with Simrock and Franz Peter Knoodt , he was committed to reforming the Catholic Church. He supported the Bonn theology professors Franz Heinrich Reusch and Joseph Langen , who split off from their faculty under the protection of the government, and participated as a priest in building up anti-Vatican resistance and an "Old Catholic" movement. In 1870 he was suspended from the Roman Catholic priesthood as a supporter of the Old Catholic Movement. On June 4, 1873, he stood next to 29 competitors as a candidate for bishop before an electoral committee of 55 lay people and 22 priests for the Old Catholic Church, which was to be newly constituted . The Wroclaw colleague Joseph Hubert Reinkens was elected , who then also came to Bonn, the new bishopric. After the further development of the church, however, Birlinger withdrew from the priestly service in the Old Catholic Church, but not because of the cancellation of celibacy like Reusch and Langen. Birlinger's return to Rome on his deathbed, as reported by August Franzen , is probably only legendary.

Birlingers work was language - and symbol criticism and maintenance, the folklore , the history of medicine (1882 he edited in the Alemannia which has since called the Alsatian Pharmacopoeia , a compilation of previously known recipes and content from medical tracts, such as the Pharmacopoeia of Ortolf von Baierland ), local history , but also superstition research as a preliminary form of empirical theology.

In Berlin-Spandau the Birlingerweg reminds of him.


  • Popular things from Swabia . 2 volumes. Freiburg, 1861–1862
  • Take me with you! Freiburg im Breisgau . Herder, Freiburg 1862
  • Dictionary of popular things from Swabia . Herder, Freiburg 1862
  • The Augsburg dialect. Greetings to the Germanists at the XXI. Assembly of German philologists in Augsburg . Rieger, Augsburg 1862
  • Swabian-Augsburg dictionary . Munich 1864
  • Swabian folk songs . Freiburg 1864
  • An all-man book of good food. In: Meeting reporter of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich 2, 1865, p. 171 ff.
  • The Alemannic language on the right side of the Rhine since the 13th century . Berlin 1868
  • That's how the Swabians speak . Berlin 1868
  • From Swabia. Sagas, legends, superstitions, customs . 2 volumes. Wiesbaden 1872–1873
  • Alamannia on the right bank of the Rhine . Stuttgart 1890



Early reception

  • Letter from Döllinger to Prof. Birlinger in: J. Friedrich: Ignaz von Döllinger, his life presented on the basis of his written estate . Beck, Munich 1899-1901, Volume 3, p. 270
  • Max Kopp: Old Catholicism in Germany, 1871-1912 . ikz 1912/1913, then Kempten: Verlag des Reichsverband alt.kath. Young teams, 1913 (via name register)

Biographical reviews

Recent publications

  • Rudolf Schenda: Anton Birlinger 1834-1891. In: Hermann Bausinger (Ed.): On the history of folklore and dialect research in Württemberg. Tübingen 1964, pp. 138-158
  • Ursula Lewald, Rudolf Schenda: Life and letters of the Bonn Germanist Anton Birlinger. In: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter 32/1968, pp. 419–429
  • August Franzen: The Catholic-Theological Faculty Bonn in the dispute over the First Vatican Council. At the same time a contribution to the history of the origins of Old Catholicism on the Lower Rhine . Böhlau, Cologne 1974
  • Anton Birlinger [junior]: The Swabian traditional researcher Anton Birlinger . Knirsch, Kirchentellinsfurt 1993 (with bibliography)

Web links

Wikisource: Anton Birlinger  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ August Franzen: The Catholic-Theological Faculty Bonn in the dispute over the First Vatican Council. At the same time a contribution to the history of the origins of Old Catholicism on the Lower Rhine . Böhlau, Cologne 1974, p. 80.
  2. ^ Anton Birlinger: From an Elsaeszischen pharmacopoeia of the XIV century. In: Alemannia. Journal for language, literature and folklore of Alsace, Upper Rhine and Swabia. Volume 10, 1882, pp. 219-232. Also in: Ways of Research. Volume 363, Darmstadt 1982, pp. 45-59.
  3. Johannes Gottfried Mayer : On the tradition of the 'Alsatian Pharmacopoeia'. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 6, 1988, pp. 225-236.