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Foundations of Modern Church History

A Comparative Structural Analysis of Writings from August Neander and Ferdinand Christian Baur

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Frank Kaufmann

The split between Liberal Protestants and Evangelicals began to crystallize within one generation of the theological revolution spawned by Hegel and Schleiermacher. In the academy, this was first reflected in the fledgling discipline, Church history. Ferdinand Christian Baur and August Neander generated early expressions of this split in their towering Church historical writings. They treated identical subjects, yet produced radically different results. Dr. Kaufmann uses structural, semiotic analysis to uncover the divergent patterns of convictions in their works which continue to divide liberal Protestants and Evangelicals today. Foundations provides a penetrating analysis of these pivotal figures in Church historiography, and in doing so identifies issues which define a major, contemporary ecumenical challenge.

«Kaufmann's 'Foundations of Modern Church History' is a significant, innovative approach to the doing of history. Its moderate and dialogical stance stands in marked contrast to previous works employing new intratextual methods. Scholarly discussion of this approach will surely take place upon publication. Furthermore, the book is 'reader friendly', guiding the uninitiated reader easily through the intricacies of structural analysis. This ease of reading and understanding sets this book apart.» (Clayton L. McNearney, Marshall University)
«Kaufmann's comparison of the early 19th-century theologians/New Testament critics, Neander and Baur, in terms of their 'systems of convictions' (and not their'theologies') opens up a new approach to Church History, following in the steps of Michel Foucault's study of 'Epistemes' in his treatments of medicine, madness, sexuality, and punishment. For this purpose, Kaufmann successfully employs a specific structural method, which he introduces cogently by means of example, rather than through technical discussion. This is a study which offers important new insights on this formative period of the history of Biblical criticism.» (Daniel Patte, Vanderbilt University)