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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Ullmann, Karl

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an eminent German doctor and professor of theology, was born March 15,1796, at Epfenbach, in the Palatinate, and studied at the University of Tü bingen, where he formed an intimate friendship with Uhland, Pfizer, and Schwab. In 1819 he took his degree as doctor of philosophy, and commenced his professional career at Heidelberg with lectures on exegesis and Church history. For ten years he stayed at Heidelberg and published during this period, Der zweite Brief Petri kuritisch unftersucht (Heidelb. 1821): Ueber den durch W. F. Rinck auis armen. Uebersetzung bekannt gemachten dritten Brief Pauli an die Corinthei (ibid. 1823): le Hypsistariis (ibid. eod.): Gregory of Naziamum (Darmstadt, 1825; 2nd ed. 1867), which, as Dr. Schaff says, is "the most complete work on the life' and doctrines of this eminent divine of the ancient Greek Church, who, for his able defense of the Nicene faith and the divinity of Christ, was emphatically styled the "Theologian." In 1828, together with his friend Umbreit (q.v.), he also commenced the publication of the well-known Studien und Kritiiken, which has been before the public ever since, and is still one of the ablest and most learned theological journals of Germany; For the first volume of this journal Ullmann wrote an essay on the Sinlessness of Jesus, which was afterwards printed separately, and published in its seventh edition in 1863 (Engl. transl. by S. Taylor, Edinb. 1870).

"In its improved form," says Dr. Schaff, "it must certainly be numbered among the most valuable contributions to the apologetic literature of the Church, and is better calculated, in our judgment; to satisfy an inquiring and well-cultivated mind on the claims of our holy religion than many large volumes on the evidences of Christianity. It shows the way by which the author himself found the truth, and by which many a theological student of Germany has since escaped the whirlpool of rationalism and pantheism It is impossible to read this book attentively without being edified as well as instructed, and overwhelmed with the glory of the only begotten of the Father that shines through the veil of his flesh upon the eye of faith and enlightened reason." In 1829 Ullmann was called to Halle, and for about seven years he lectured, besides Church history, on symbolics and dogmatics; and in 1836 he returned again to Heidelberg as professor of ecclesiastical history and Church councilor, and spent there the best years of his manhood. When, in 1853, Ullmann was elected to the prelacy or the highest ecclesiastical dignity of the Evangelical Church, in the grand-duchy of Baden. He withdrew from the academic chair and took his residence at Carlsruhe, devoting his whole energy to the affairs of the Church. In connection with his like-minded colleague, the learned Dr. Baihr, author of Symbolism of the Mosaic Worship, he faithfully endeavored to build up the Protestant Church of Baden, which was deeply undermined by theological rationalism and political red- republicanism. When, however, the liberal element became too strong, he retired in 1861 from all public affairs, and died Jan. 12, 1865.

Ullmann, starting from the school of Schleiermacher and Neander, was at first somewhat latitudinarian in doctrine and too compromising in disposition, but he grew with the better spirit of the age in orthodoxy and evangelical sentiment. Thus he not only took part, while at Halle, in the efforts made against the still existing remnant of rationalism, but also used all means at the General Synod, which met at Carlsruhe in 1855, to have the rationalistic catechism heretofore in use replaced by a better one constructed on the basis of the small Lutheran and Heidelberg catechisms. Similar reforms he introduced with regard to the liturgy and the common school-books. But more than through his ecclesiastical reforms, he acquired a lasting reputation by a number of works "equally distinguished for solid and well-diffused historical information, comprehensive views, calm and clear reflection, dignified and conciliating tone, and masterly: power of exhibition."

Besides those already mentioned we name his Historisch oder Mythisch (Hamburg, 1838), in which he brings out the signification of Christ's personality under a historical point of view, as an unanswerable argument to the infidel work of Strauss on the life of Jesus: Daso Wesen des Christenthums (ibid. 1845; 5th ed. 1865), with a critical appendixon Feuerbach's infamous book on the essence of Christianity: De Beryllo Bostaeno ejusque Doctrina Commentatio (ibid. 1835). But his main work, which has assigned to him a rank among the first Church historians of the present century, is his Reformers before the Reformation (184142, 2 vols., forming also a part of Clark's Foreign Theological Library). This work "is certainly one of the strongest historical arguments for the Reformation that have yet been presented What Flacius attempted in a crude form in the infancy of Protestant historiography, and with an unmeasured polemical zeal against the Romanists of his age, Ullmann has carried out with all the help of modern erudition, in the calm, truth-loving spirit of an impartial historian, and with full acknowledgment of the great and abiding merits of Catholicism as the Christianizer' and civilizer of the barbarian nations of the Dark Ages. With him the Reformation is not so much a rebellion as the flower and fruit rather of the better and deeper life of Christianity that slumbered in the maternal bosom of medieval Catholicism.

This, it seems to us, is the noblest and strongest historical vindication of it (Schaff). In these two volumes special attention is paid to the German and Dutch forerunners of the Reformation from the 13th to the 15th century, who are treated with exhaustive minuteness of detail. Here we find trustworthy and carefully sifted information on the, life and theology of John Gochb John Wessel, the Brethren of the Common Life, and the various schools of the mystics, Ruysbroek, Suso, Tauler, Thomas a Kempis, the anonymous author of the curious tract on German theology, and Staupitz, the patron and early friend of Luther. The latter and principal part of the second volume contains the author's former monograph on John Wessel (Hamburg, 1834) in an improved form which leaves but little to be added. "But the work of Ullmann, although very satisfactory as far as it goes, does not exhaust the general subject, which would require two or three additional volumes. He leaves out of view the important preparatory movement of Wycliffe and the Lollards in England, of Huss and the Hussites in Bohemia, of Savonarola in Italy, and of what is generally called the Revival of Letters and Classical Learning by such men as Erasmus, Reuchlin, Agricola; not to speak of the more negative preparation of the Reformation by the anti-Catholic sects of the Middle Ages, especially the Waldenses and Albigenses (Schaff). Besides these works there are a number of essays from his pen in the Studien und Kritiken, and other treatises published separately. See Zuchold, Bib. Theol. 2, 1365 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Theologisches Universal- Lexikon, s.v.; Schaff, Germany, its Universities, etc., p. 345 sq.; Beyschlag, Dr. Carl Ullman (Gotha, 1867); Schenkel, Allgemeine kirchlichle Zeitschrift (1867), p. 87 fol.; Kurtz,:Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte (Mitau, 1874), 2, 384 sq. (B. P.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ullmann, Karl'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/u/ullmann-karl.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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