In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries a conservative school of theology existed at Tubingen fostered by G C Storr (1746 - 1805) that stressed the supernatural character of revelation and biblical authority. Also, a Catholic "Tubingen school" attempted in the late nineteenth century to reconcile the church's teaching with modern philosophy and biblical studies. By far the best known, however, is the one headed by Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792 - 1860), which opened up new avenues in NT study and was the most controversial movement in biblical criticism in the midnineteenth century. Its major contribution was calling attention to the distinct strands and theologies within the NT itself and establishing the principle of a purely historical understanding of the Bible.

The contrasts between the Synoptic Gospels and John, the various letters attributed to Paul, and Paul and the other early church leaders were carefully examined. Baur, much influenced by idealist philosophy, applied Hegelian dialectic to the NT. He found that the New Testament reflected, not a homogeneous development, but a fundamental tension between the Jewish church of Peter/James and the hellenistic Gentile church of Paul. The NT documents attempted to reconcile the conflict between an earlier Petrine and a later conflicting Pauline theology by formulating a new synthesis (making it appear as if the Apostles supported Paul when earliest church historians record that they did not). Baur believed that the authenticity of the various books could be determined by the degree to which they revealed "tendencies" of this conflict. He also traced out a similar kind of dialectical movement in the history of the church.

Ferdinand Christian Baur, b. June 21, 1792, d. Dec. 2, 1860, was a German theologian who founded the Tubingen school of New Testament interpretation. He received his education at Tubingen University, where, from 1826 to his death, he was professor of ecclesiastical and doctrinal history. Although Baur began teaching at Tubingen in 1826, the school's founding is properly dated from the appearance of his pupil D F Strauss's Life of Jesus in 1835. By the late 1840s the Tubingen School came under severe attack and the various members gradually drifted away. Baur himself became isolated within the Tubingen faculty as well as the German academic community, and spent his last years defending his views and producing a multivolume history of the church from a naturalistic standpoint, which explained all events by a combination of political, social, cultural, and intellectual causes but without any consideration of divine influence. Although relatively short - lived, the school with its emphasis on dialectical conflict within the early church, rejection of Pauline authorship of most of his epistles, and completely antisupernaturalistic outlook contributed significantly to the development of a historical - critical approach to the Bible that completely ignored the divine element in it.

As stated above Baur applied the philosophy of Hegel to New Testament interpretation. He was thus an early advocate of the historical or scientific study of the Bible. In 1845 he published a book on St. Paul, in which he applied the Hegelian principle to the history of early Christianity: Primitive Jewish (Petrine) Christianity, represented by the Gospel of St. Matthew, was the original force or thesis; Pauline Christianity was the antithesis or reaction against Peter - Matthew; and early Catholic Christianity, which brought these two forces together, was the synthesis. In the process, Baur rejected the traditional attribution of a number of Epistles to Paul. He held that Paul was the author only of Galatians, the two Epistles to the Corinthians, and most of Romans. Later Baur wrote extensively on historical theology. He developed a school of followers, mostly at Tubingen; but the movement declined with his death but the truth of his "thesis" has been borne out by subsequent study into this very interesting topic.

(J Fitzer, Moehler and Baur in Controversy (1974); R M Grant, The Bible in the Church (1954); N Harris, The Tubingen School; P C Hodgson, The Formation of Historical Theology: A Study of F C Baur; K Barth, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century; A Heron, A Century of Protestant Theology; C Brown, N I D C C , 987.