chapter  8
22 Pages

A Quest for the Historical Troeltsch

ByConstance L. Benson, Cornel West

Ernst Peter Wilhelm Troeltsch was born in Haunstetten, a village just outside of Augsburg on February 17, 1865, during the period when Bismarck was carving out the Second Reich. Theological neo-orthodoxy was one aspect of his background Troeltsch was to rebel against. In 1894, Troeltsch was given the chair of systematic theology in Heidelberg where he was to remain for twenty-one years. Troeltsch is portrayed by leading interpreters as the man who replaced the dogmatic method in theology with the historical method. In fact, Troeltsch was by no means the first theologian to apply the historical critical method to the discipline. Insofar as Troeltsch came to be perceived as the "historical" alternative to Barth, he also came to eclipse earlier historical interpreters of Christianity. Troeltsch considered Christianity to be the highest point of religious development for the West and surely higher than the religions of "primitive" races.