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Klaus Schilling's summary in English of
Bernhard Hoffers' April 2003 Lecture about Arthur Drews

This is Klaus Schilling's summary in English of http://www.radikalkritik.de/Arthur_Drews.htm.

Arthur Drews (1865 1935)

Professor der Philosophie

an der Technischen Hochschule Karlsruhe

Vortrag von Dr. Bernhard Hoffers, Lehrte, im Geschichtssalon Karlsruhe, 24 April 2003


This summarizes a recent lecture of Prof. Hoffers on Arthur Drews, one of the most famous Jesus-Mythers of the early 20th century. (1865-1935)

Drews was a scholar of philosophy and German language at the University of Karelsruhe. His inconvenient statements caused him frequently trouble.

Arthur Drews is essentially heavily influenced by the philosopher Eduard von Hartmann. von Hartmann's central topic is the metaphysics of the nonconscious, even before Freud, Jung, and the likes, started scientific psychoanalysis. Though apparently having influenced those great psychotherapeutic scholars, the latter ones did not acknowledge his works.

The nonconscious, so Eduard von Hartmann, "creates" the world through an act of differentiation, sundering apart the original all-unity. Thus the nonsconscious is some impersonal or transpersonal deity, and the original identity of divinity, man, and cosmos got lost, but is seeked to be restored.

Drews wrote many essays, some belletristic, some philosophical-scholarly. He tried to advance at university with some essays on the philosophy of I. Kant, but through the glasses of von Hartmann. This was rejected by the academic circles. Many controversal philosophical essays followed. In 1909, the first tome of Drews' The Christ Myth was published, inevitably causing a lot of havoc.

Two years later, Drews added a second tome refuting the argument of his conservative opponents. Drews was also influenced by Reverend Kalthoff. Drews' main arguments concern the lack of reliable contemporary witnesses from outside early Christianity, the dependence on older myths, and many difficulties that modern theology slipped into. Of course his academic career suffered from the controversies, but this could not stop Drews.

         He published a booklet on the history of ancient monism.

         He also put his own religious concepts, based of course on Eduard von Hartmann, down in a catechism-like booklet.

         In 1921, he published a work on the Gospel of Mark as witness against the historicity of Jesus: It is shown how Mark's reflects an astromythical triple journey along the zodiac.

         In 1922, there was an essay against Steiner's Anthroposophy.

         In 1923 he published a general introduction into astral mythology, and its influence on early Christianity.

         In 1924 he published a book plausibilizing the evolution of Christianity out of a general Gnostic background.

         Then a book on a general psychology based on Eduard von Hartmann was presented.

         In 1926, Drews gave an essay on the history of the denial of the historicity of Jesus.

         Also some essays concerning the Mary myth was published.

         In 1931, a book on Wagner and Nietzsche appeared. He was dealing with Wagner already much earlier, and got now rejected as before.

Some of the works concerning early Christianity have been translated.

Despite the academic rejection of Drews, the large amount of articles and essays in journals shows that there was a significant interest in the works of Arthur Drews.

The University of Karelsruhe never mentions Drews in its memory articles that resume the history of the university.

The city of Karelsruhe on one occasion published an article in memoriam.

Drews is encountered nowadays occasionally in the references of articles concerning Wagner- and Nietzsche, also his book about Plotinus is. Unlike in Germany, the book The Christ Myth is still available in America. Only Detering tried to restore another lost text about the history of the ahistoricity of Jesus recently.

Modern standard encyclopedias on philosophy virtually ignore Drews.

Just as in the case Eduard von Hartmann, academic Philosophy is deeply ashamed of Drews. They were outsiders with no 'school' and 'disciples' to continue and honour the works of their master. Drews intruded frequently into theological etc. questions, without being a theologian, etc. which upset the members of those faculties with whose questions he meddled with. Also his polemics against the philosophy of Nietzsche made him unbearable for virtually all German philosophical faculties.

Also, though not being a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), Drews showed affinities to a 'German religion' project, similar to that of Goebbels, which made him appear as a Nazi.

On the other hand, Drews spoke against the growing antisemitism during the Weimarian Republic. As a scholar, Drews had always been objective and honest.

Drews was literate in many languages. He was temporarily a friend of Albert Schweitzer, the famous theologian and physician.

So why should one still today occupy oneself with studying the works of Arthur Drews? For one, many of his texts are of general interest, like the works about Wagner, the history of early Christianity, and astral mythology. It is worth the effort to put up with the various arguments of Drews. It is by no means a priori clear that Drews' methodology may be called outdated. Is the question about the historicity of Jesus really settled? Any own occupation with arguments about it are worth the trouble.

Then there are historical and social reasons, like the contacts to the clubs (for example, federation of monists) and publisher companies (for example, Diderichs), leading to a great publicity and public appearance. The strategies and motivations for this appearance are worth an examination.

Drews may not be a unique case, one should look for parallels.

And it is of course to be asked whether the broad rejection is anywhere near justified.

A more accurate appreciation of Drews requires a more extensive biographic and bibliographic representation. One could search for hints among the surviving family members, the clubs and publishers mentioned above, his temporary friends and students (L. Ziegler), and publicists in the Wagner area who referred to Drews. This implies many little steps that, after coordinated and directed, may lead to a proper appreciation of Arthur Drews.




The Christ Myth (Westminster College-Oxford Classics in the Study of Religion)

Arthur Drews, translated into English by C. Deslisle Burns





The Legend of Saint Peter

Arthur Drews. Translated into English by Frank Zindler.

http://www.atheists.org - Publisher's site; in stock. Click Shopping: Start Shopping: Books: The Legend of Saint Peter.




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