William Wrede

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William Wrede

Georg Friedrich Eduard William Wrede (born May 10, 1859 in Bücken , † November 23, 1906 in Breslau ) was a German Evangelical Lutheran theologian .


William Wrede was born in Bücken on May 10, 1859 as the son of Rector Ernst Wrede and his wife Justine (née Grütter). From 1862 his father was a Protestant pastor in Fredelsloh and from 1872 on in Groß-Freden. After his first lesson in the village school, his father prepared him for high school. At Easter 1874 he entered the secondary school of the grammar school in Celle , which he left in autumn 1877 with the Abitur.

First he studied in Leipzig and from Easter 1879 in Göttingen Protestant theology . During his studies in Göttingen , he became a member of the Thuringia Academic Theological Association . In addition to Adolf Harnack in Leipzig , Albrecht Ritschl and Hermann Schultz were particularly influential for him.

After the first theological examination (Easter 1881), Wrede worked for a year as a teacher at a private school in Liebenburg , was then a member of the preachers' seminar in Loccum for two and a half years and inspector of the theological monastery in Göttingen for another two years (autumn 1884–1886). During this time he took the second theological examination and took over the parish in Langenholzen near his parents' home in January 1887 .

His parents died on September 9th and 19th, 1887. However, his scientific interests were stronger than those for the exercise of office, so that Wrede decided in autumn 1889 to embark on a scientific career. He moved to Göttingen and completed his habilitation there in March 1891 on the basis of his research on the first letters of Clement for the subject of New Testament exegesis .

In the spring of 1893 he was appointed associate professor at the University of Breslau . He married Elisabeth Schulz, the daughter of his teacher Hermann Schulz. In the autumn of 1895 he became a full professor in Breslau, where he worked for 13 years. He held lectures until Whitsun 1906, when he fell ill with pneumonia , which after a short improvement developed into a heart condition which, after long fluctuations, led to death on November 23, 1906.

Theological work

Wrede took up the methods of critical exegesis of biblical writings that emerged at his time and emphasized that the study of the New Testament should not be limited to the writings of the biblical canon; An understanding of the New Testament can only be achieved if the biblical writings are viewed in connection with other contemporary documents. He pleaded for a religious historical comparison of the New Testament scriptures and an investigation of the contemporary context of the scriptures in order to emphasize the particularity and the theological intention of the New Testament scriptures.

So Wrede became a co-founder of the School of Religious History . His work goal culminated in the view of dissolving New Testament theology and replacing it with a history of religion of early Christianity that is not theologically but historically responsible . For this reason, Wrede's approach has at times been highly controversial.

The so-called tradition - historical approach developed from Wrede's specifications , which today is a natural element of the historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament. The question is to what extent the New Testament text to be examined reproduces forms or content of statements that can be anchored in the contemporary.

Another focus of Wrede's theological work was introductory science, i.e. the investigation of the historical origins of biblical writings. In his detailed analytical work, Wrede u. a. that the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians is literarily dependent on the 1st letter to the Thessalonians and not written by Paul , which is controversial today.

In addition, Wrede criticized the idea of ​​the “Messiah's secret”, according to which Jesus wanted his Messiahship to be kept secret. In the Gospel of Mark , however, it becomes clear that Jesus did not see himself as the Messiah . It was only under the Easter experiences of the disciples that it came to the conclusion that Jesus was the Savior. And it was only when the stories about Jesus were written down that the editorial incorporation of Jesus' messiahship came about.

Even with this thesis, Wrede met with diverse criticism. His Paulus book was seen even more critically, in which he stated that Paul, with his theological statements, should be regarded as the second founder of Christianity alongside Jesus.

Works (selection)

  • On the task and method of the so-called New Testament theology , Göttingen 1897.
  • The Messiah Secret in the Gospels. At the same time, a contribution to understanding the Gospel of Mark , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Göttingen 1901.
  • Paulus , Halle 1904 / Tübingen 1907 (today in: Rengstorf, Karl Heinrich [ed.], The image of Paul in recent German research, Darmstadt 1969, 1-97).
  • The authenticity of the second letter to Thessalonians examined , Leipzig 1903.
  • Lectures and studies , Tübingen 1907


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Report of the Thuringia. Akad-Theol. Connection to the Georgia Augusta in Göttingen. Summer semester 1907 - summer semester 1909. p. 15.
  2. ^ Adolf Wrede . In: William Wrede; Lectures and studies . Tübingen 1907, pp. III and IV.