Ep 92: The Socialist Roots of Modern Biblical Studies

Ep 92: The Socialist Roots of Modern Biblical Studies

In F.A. Hayek’s book The Counter-Revolution of Science, he explains the significance of two French thinkers, Henri de Saint Simon and Auguste Comte, who, by applying the language and methods of the natural sciences to social phenomenon, are responsible for the dramatic rise of socialism, totalitarianism, and the idea of the technocratic state. Even though these names have largely been forgotten to history, their ideas were wildly popular during the 19th century and merged with Hegelianism in Germany, leading to the works of Marx and Engles. In passing, Hayek refers to two prominent 19th century Biblical scholars, David Fredrich Strauss and Ernst Renan, who were both influenced by Saint-Simonian ideas. Both of these scholars were deeply influential in the development of modern Biblical scholars, and both had ties to the nationalist and statist movements that swept Europe during this time. Strauss was the most influential member of the Tubingen School in Germany, which set the parameters for modern Biblical scholarship, and Renan had an outsized influence in France. I outline as a preliminary theory the significance of these two figures being attached to Saint-Simonian ideas and how that has quite possibly shaped the presuppositions of all modern Biblical scholarship down to this day. I also explain how Albert Schweitzer correctly sets both of their work in the context of Hegelianism but missed the Hegelian merger with Saint-Simonianism. We need a Biblical scholar who can take these ideas further, and I plan on addressing this interesting insight in more detail in later shows.

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