August Tholuck

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August Tholuck

Friedrich August Gotttreu Tholuck (born March 30, 1799 in Breslau , † June 10, 1877 in Halle ) was a German Protestant theologian . He taught at the University of Halle .


At the age of twelve, Tholuck left the Maria-Magdalenen-Gymnasium in Breslau to do an apprenticeship in his father's goldsmith's workshop. After a year, however, he returned to high school, where his language skills were recognized and encouraged. As a 17-year-old Tholuck is rumored to have mastered 19 languages. It is also known that he worked as an interpreter in order to earn money.

In 1816 he enrolled at the University of Breslau for Oriental Studies , but in 1817 he moved to the Friedrich Wilhelms University in Berlin to study Protestant theology . The trip to Berlin was financed by a sponsor of the young, destitute talent. In Berlin he was accepted by the orientalist Heinrich von Diez , whom he served as private secretary ( Amanuensis ). Tholuck initially studied philology , but soon turned to Protestant theology. Tholuck was subject to severe mood swings and had suicidal thoughts several times. He was receptive to the herrnhuterisch embossed revival of the circle around the Baron Hans Ernst von Kotwitz (1757-1843). Tholuck was unable to accept a professorship for Old Testament exegesis and oriental philology at Dorpat University in 1819 because of an illness. Therefore he received his doctorate in 1820 with a thesis on Sufism to Lic. Theol.

Against the resistance of Friedrich Schleiermacher and only after a ministerial intervention Tholuck began teaching at the theological faculty of the University of Berlin. In 1822 the University of Jena awarded him an honorary doctorate for his Persian studies, and he was appointed extraordinary professor for the subject of the Old Testament at Berlin University. The authorities benevolently registered Tholuck's involvement in the Berlin Society for the Promotion of Christianity among the Jews . His novel Guido and Julius, inspired by Samuel Elsner and initially published anonymously in 1823, became a bestseller : The Doctrine of Sin and the Reconciler, or: The True Consecration of the Doubter , in which he processed his experience of revival . In 1825 he went on a research trip to Leiden , London , Oxford and Paris .

On November 17, 1825, Tholuck, as an "awakened pietist", was appointed full professor at the University of Halle against the unanimous vote of the theological faculty . He had previously accused the rationalist faculty of "rawness" and "unrestrained carelessness". Tholuck took up the fight against the rationalism prevailing in Halle, suggested to him by the Prussian authorities , immediately after his appointment, so after the start of teaching there were publicly perceptible conflicts. Friedrich Conrad Dietrich Wyneken , who was his student here, was influenced by his attitude, among other things .

Tholuck used modern means to spread his views: in 1827 he - u. a. together with Ernst Ludwig von Gerlach - the Evangelical Church Newspaper for Protestant Germany , 1830 the Literary Gazette for Christian Theology and Science in general . In 1828, however, Tholuck worked for a short time as a preacher in the Prussian legation in Rome. He devoted himself to extensive manuscript studies in the city's libraries.

When he returned to Halle, he had unexpectedly great teaching success. He turned down appointments as court preacher in Dresden and professor in Basel. Tholuck used his excellent relations with the court to push ahead with the restructuring of the faculty. In 1836 he enforced against the Ministry of Culture that a rationalist - Ferdinand Christian Baur from Tübingen  - was not appointed.

As a result, Tholuck was appointed university preacher in 1839 and dean in 1840 as the executor of royal Prussian church policy . Other offices followed: in 1842 he became consistorial councilor , later senior consistorial councilor . As a supporter of the Prussian Union , he turned against colleagues, such as the old Lutheran Ferdinand Guericke . Tholuck was also active in church politics abroad, in 1846 he was one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance in London .

In 1848 he was made an honorary philistine of the Christian student union Hallenser Wingolf .

Scientifically, he was considered a knowledgeable exegete whose interpretations were linguistically at a very high level. However, it was only his numerous students who took the path to the historical-critical method . His theological, journalistic and translational work is extraordinarily extensive (for bibliography see web link BBKL ). He was inspiring to students, e.g. B. on Adolf Zahn and Leopold Witte, the "Tholuck sofa" became a legend, on which he had extensive conversations with his students. Tholuck drew listeners from all over Germany and numerous students, including many Methodists , from the United States . These included u. a. later bishop, presidential adviser and founder of the American University in Washington DC John Fletcher Hurst . The church historian Philip Schaff , co-founder of the Reformed World Federation , who emigrated to the USA , also studied and lived with Tholuck. Tholuck's wish for a dormitory for destitute students was fulfilled by his wife Mathilde von Gemmingen-Steinegg in 1870. Numerous donations helped with the expansion of the Konviktes , which moved from Mittelstrasse to a larger building after a few years.

In 1873 Tholuck gave up the office of university minister. With regret he left the pulpit, "from which he", as the university chronicle wrote, "so often moved souls mightily". In 1875 he gave the last lecture, in 1876 his last seminar, after which the arguable and controversial scholar disappeared, the chronicle is quoted again, "the clarity of the mind".

His grave is in the town of Halle .

Remembrance day

June 10 in the Evangelical Name Calendar .


Treatise on the Sermon on the
Mount , Hamburg 1835 (title page)
  • Sufism, sive theosophia Persarum pantheistica . Ferdinand Dümmler, Berlin 1821.
  • Hours of Christian devotion, a book of edification . Friedrich Andreas Perthes, Gotha, 6th edition, 1860.
  • Prehistory of Rationalism
    • Volume 1: The academic life of the seventeenth century with special reference to the Protestant theological faculties in Germany . Eduard Anton, Halle 1853–1854.
      • Volume 1: The academic conditions . 1853.
      • Volume 2: The academic history of the German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Swiss high schools . 1854.
    • Volume 2: Church life from the seventeenth century to the beginnings of the Enlightenment . Wiegandt and Grieben, Berlin 1861–1862.
      • Volume 1: The first half of the seventeenth century to the Peace of Westphalia . 1861.
      • Volume 2: The second half of the seventeenth century . 1862.


  • Christine Axt-Piscalar : "Without the journey into hell of the knowledge of sin, the ascension of the knowledge of God is not possible." The spirituality of Friedrich August Gottreu Tholuck (1799–1877) . In: Peter Zimmerling (ed.): Handbook Evangelical Spirituality , Vol. 1: History . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2017, ISBN 978-3-525-56719-7 , pp. 588-605.
  • Gustav FrankTholuck, August . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 38, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1894, pp. 55-59.
  • Klaus-Gunther Wesseling:  THOLUCK, Friedrich August Gott (t) reu. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 11, Bautz, Herzberg 1996, ISBN 3-88309-064-6 , Sp. 1251-1266.
  • Albrecht Geck (Ed.): Authority and Faith. Edward Bouverie Pusey and Friedrich August Gotttreu Tholuck in correspondence (1825–1865) . V&R Unipress, Osnabrück 2009, ISBN 978-3-89971-577-4 .
  • Albrecht Geck: Friendship in Faith. EB Pusey (1800–1882) and FAG Tholuck (1799–1877) in the fight against rationalism and pantheism - highlights of an English-German correspondence . In: Pietismus und Neuzeit 27 (2001), pp. 91–117.
  • Albrecht Geck (Ed.): Authority and Faith. Edward Bouverie Pusey and Friedrich August Gotttreu Tholuck in Correspondence (1825–1865), parts 1–3 . In: Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte 10 (2003), pp. 253–317; 12 (2005), pp. 89-155; 13 (2006), pp. 41-124.
  • Albrecht Geck: Pusey, Tholuck and the Oxford Movement . In: Stewart J. Brown, Peter B. Nockles (Eds.): The Oxford Movement. Europe and the Wider World 1830-1930 . Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 2012, pp. 168-184.
  • Hermann Römer : August Tholuck . In: Mitteldeutsche Lebensbilder , Volume 2: Lebensbilder des 19. Jahrhundert , Magdeburg 1927, pp. 199–219.
  • Gunther Wenz : Moved by God. Zinzendorf, Schleiermacher, and Tholuck . Herbert Utz Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-89675-784-9 .
  • Leopold Witte: The life of Friedrich August Gotttreu Tholuck . Velhagen & Klasing, Bielefeld ( digitized version )

Web links

Commons : August Tholuck  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See also Christine Axt-Piscalar: Powerless Freedom: Studies on the Relationship between Subjectivity and Sin by August Tholuck, Julius Müller, Sören Kierkegaard and Friedrich Schleiermacher. (Contributions to historical theology 94) Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1996 ISBN 9783161463730 , p. 7
  2. Hans Waitz: History of the Wingolfsverbindungen , therein Fr. Büchsel “History of the Hallenser Wingolf”, publishing house of the Association of old Wingolfites, Darmstadt 1914. P. 451
  3. Sachsen-Anhalt-Wiki; Leopold Witte (born June 9, 1836 in Halle (Saale); † December 2, 1921) ( Memento from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ Witte, Leopold: The life of D. Friedrich August Gottreu Tholucks . Second volume 1826–1877. Bielefeld / Leipzig, 1886, p. 514
  5. August Tholuck in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints