Friedrich Christoph Oetinger

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Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, portrait by Georg Adam Eger , 1775

Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (born May 2, 1702 in Göppingen ; † February 10, 1782 in Murrhardt ) was a German theologian and leading exponent of Württemberg pietism .


As a theology student at the Evangelical Monastery in Tübingen, Oetinger came across the writings of Jakob Böhme in 1725 , with which he was henceforth intensively concerned. In addition, his respect for the Bible was decisively shaped by Johann Albrecht Bengel , who came into his field of vision at the same time. After completing his studies, Oetinger undertook an extensive journey through Germany, where he found his first access to Kabbalah in Frankfurt . In Herrnhut he got to know the work of the young Nikolaus Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf . In April 1731 Oetinger became a repetitee in the Tübingen monastery . After Zinzendorf's trip to Württemberg in 1733, Oetinger traveled again to Upper Lusatia for a long time . This was followed by a brief teaching activity in Halle (1736) before Oetinger's long inner struggle decided for or against a pastor's position in Württemberg: In the spring of 1738 he became a pastor in Hirsau near Calw and in the same year married Christiana Dorothea Linsenmann from Urach (today Bad Urach ).

In order to be close to his revered teacher Johann Albrecht Bengel, Oetinger moved to the parish of Schnaitheim near Heidenheim in 1743 . In 1746 he became a pastor in Walddorf (near Tübingen ). He is said to have "preached to the spirits" at the old Sulzeiche there. In 1752 he became the parish priest of Weinsberg and special superintendent ( dean ) of the church district Weinsberg , before he went to Herrenberg in 1759 as parish priest and special superintendent . In 1765 (appointed; took office in 1766) he became the parish priest in Murrhardt (who was subordinate to the special superintendent in Backnang ), at the same time abbot and prelate of the (Protestant) Murrhardt monastery , as well as a ducal councilor and member of the landscape.

Friedrich Christoph Oetinger wrote - after years of studying Kabbalah - a book in 1763 about the Teinach teaching board and its teaching. Kabblistic teaching material can be found in his sermons to the parishes of Herrenberg and Weinsberg and in his dogmatic textbook.

He expected the gathering of the Jews in the Holy Land and the return of the ten tribes of Israel, who had once been taken into captivity in Assyria, the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and the resurgence of the sacrificial cult. In the millennium he saw the Jews assume a leadership position. The whole world would then be ruled from Jerusalem, where Hebrew would be spoken again. All of this was to become reality around the year 1836 calculated by Bengel. The expectation of a coming conversion of the Jews became common theological property in the 18th century and encouraged interest in and benevolent dealings with the Jewish people.

Oetinger epitaph in the Murrhardt town church

The versatile man was controversial throughout his life. In March 1766, the Stuttgart consistory (church administration) confiscated all copies of Swedenborg's work and other earthly and heavenly philosophies from 1765. In it Oetinger defended Swedenborg's view of the realm of spirits, but distanced himself in the following years from his allegorical, too little 'bodily' interpretation of the Apocalypse of John . Even in relation to Johann Albrecht Bengel's exegesis of the Apocalypse, which was often 'spiritually' interpreted, and in relation to Oetinger's former vicar Philipp Matthäus Hahn , who initially followed Bengel's interpretation for a long time, Oetinger now sharpened his biblical realism. In his work Biblical and Emblematic Dictionary ( Heilbronn am Neckar 1776, p. 407) he found the famous sentence: “Corporeality is the end of God's works, as clearly evident from God's city […].” Oetinger's thinking is - too in the basic attitude critical of the Enlightenment - related to that of Johann Georg Hamann : “Hamann, like Oetinger, is about thinking about the unity of history and nature, in view of the threat to tradition and in view of a science that quantifies nature as modern and experimental Makes insulation an object. Both goals are that man does not lose the meaning that he gains in mediation with tradition (...) and that man can understand himself as the unity of spirit and corporeality, as that with which he is nature. "

His grave can be found in the Murrhardt town church .


Oetinger influenced many poets and thinkers, such as Christoph Martin Wieland , Johann Gottfried Herder , Johann Wolfgang Goethe , Friedrich Schiller , Friedrich Hölderlin , Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (especially his middle and late phase), Justinus Kerner , Eduard Mörike and Hermann Hesse .

Even in the library of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart there was a work by Oetinger from his Murrhardt time, which contains music-theoretical explanations: The Metaphysics in Connexion with Chemistry (Schwäbisch Hall, 1770).

The well-known serenity prayer is often ascribed to Oetinger, but it actually comes from Reinhold Niebuhr .



  • The works of Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. Chronological-systematic bibliography 1707–2014. (= Bibliography on the history of Pietism. Volume 3). Edited by Martin Weyer-Menkhoff and Reinhard Breymayer. de Gruyter, Berlin / Munich / Boston 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-041461-5 .

Individual major works by Friedrich Christoph Oetinger

Editions of Oetinger's autobiography

a. Popular edition:

  • Friedrich Christoph Oetinger: autobiography. Genealogy of the real thoughts of a scholar of God. Edited and with an introduction by J [ulius] [Otto] Roessle [Rößle]. Ernst Franz Verlag, Metzingen (Württ [emberg]) 1990, ISBN 3-7722-0035-4 .

b. Historical-critical editions:

  • Ulrike Kummer: Autobiography and Pietism. Friedrich Christoph Oetingers. Genealogy of the real thoughts of a god = scholars. Investigations and Edition. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-631-60070-2 . [First historical-critical edition with commentary. Also takes into account the alchemical and hermetic tradition in which Oetinger stood.]
  • Friedrich Christoph Oetinger: Genealogy of the real thoughts of a god scholar. An autobiography. Edited by Dieter Ising, Edition Pietismustexte , Volume 1. Leipzig, Evangelische Verlagsanstalt 2010, ISBN 978-3-374-02797-2 .

Remembrance day


  • Friedhelm Groth: The return of all things in Württemberg pietism. Studies in the history of theology on the eschatological universalism of salvation of Württemberg Pietists of the 18th century. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1984, pp. 89-146. (Works on the History of Pietism, Volume 21)
  • Martin Weyer-Menkhoff: Christ, the salvation of nature. Origin and systematics of Friedrich Christoph Oetinger's theology. Bibliography. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1990, pp. 272-326. (Works on the history of Pietism, vol. 27)
  • Martin Weyer-Menkhoff: Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. Pictorial biography. Brockhaus, Wuppertal and Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-417-21107-7 . (Franz, Metzingen / Württ. 1990, ISBN 3-7722-0215-2 )
  • Martin Weyer-Menkhoff:  Oetinger, Friedrich Christoph. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , pp. 466 - 468 ( digitized version ).
  • Sabine Holtz , Gerhard Betsch, Eberhard Zwink (eds.): Mathesis, natural philosophy and arcane science in the circle of Friedrich Christoph Oetingers (1702–1782). Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-515-08439-8 . (Contubernium; 63)
  • Tonino Griffero: Il corpo spirituale. Ontology "sottili" by Paolo di Tarso and Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. Mimesis Edizioni, Milano 2006, ISBN 88-8483-413-9 , pp. 417-510, comprehensive bibliography of research literature.
  • Friedrich Christoph Oetinger. In: Wouter J [acobus] Hanegraaff: Swedenborg. Oetinger. Kant. Three Perspectives on the Secrets of Heaven. Preface Inge Jonsson. The Swedenborg Foundation, West Chester, Pennsylvania 2007, ISBN 978-0-87785-321-3 , pp. 67-85. ( Swedenborg Studies Series , no.18)
  • Douglas H. Shantz: The Harvest of Pietist Theology: FC Oetinger's Quest for Truth as recounted in his autobiography of 1762. In: Michel Desjardins, Harold Remus (ed.): Tradition and Formation: Claiming An Inheritance. Essays in Honor of Peter Christian. Heir Pandora Press, Kitchener 2008, pp. 121-134.
  • Ulrike Kummer: Autobiography and Pietism (2010), see above under Editions of the autobiography of Friedrich Christoph Oetinger .
  • Werner Raupp : Oetinger, Friedrich Christoph, in: The Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century German Philosophers . Edited by Heiner F. Klemme and Manfred Kuehn, Vol. 2, London / New York 2010, pp. 870–873.
  • Johann Friedrich Jüdler, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger, Erhard Weigel: Real advantages for information. Johann Friedrich Jüdler's former schoolmaster in Stetten im Ramstal. [Remstal] Real advantages to inform beginners in German and Latin schools according to the intentions of the Realschule zu Berlin. Taken from the mouth and conversation of the special superintendent [Friedrich Christoph] Oetinger and handed over to the press <1758>. (Historical-critical edition and facsimile reprint of the Heilbronn edition [am Neckar]: Johann Friedrich Majer, 1758.) Heck, Dußlingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-924249-56-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Martin H. Jung: Christians and Jews. The history of their relationships . Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-534-19133-8 , pp. 146 .
  2. ^ Rainer Piepmeier: Aporias of the concept of life since Oetinger. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg / Munich 1978, ISBN 3-495-47392-0 , p. 289.
  3. ^ RB [= Reinhard Breymayer]: The Metaphysick in Connexion with Chemistry, by J. Oetinger, Schw. Halle. In: Ulrich Konrad, Martin Staehelin (ed.): Always a book . The library of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Weinheim [an der Bergstrasse]: VCH, Acta humaniora 1991, ISBN 3-527-17827-9 , pp. 73 ff. ( Exhibition catalogs of the Herzog August Library [Wolfenbüttel], no. 66) On the broadcast of Oetinger's doctrine of God's eternal love resolution on Schiller's song An die Freude cf. Reinhard Breymayer: Astronomy, calendar dispute and love theology. From Erhard Weigel and his student Detlev Clüver to Friedrich Christoph Oetinger and Philipp Matthäus Hahn to Friedrich Schiller, Johann Andreas Streicher , Franz Joseph Graf von Thun and Hohenstein, Mozart and Beethoven. [Motto:] Brothers - a dear father has to live above the stars! . Heck, Dußlingen, 2016. ISBN 978-3-924249-58-8 .
  4. The False Oetinger Prayer or The Serenity Prayer . Württemberg State Library Stuttgart. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  5. ^ Friedrich Christoph Oetinger in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints

Web links

Commons : Friedrich Christoph Oetinger  - Collection of images, videos and audio files