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THE MIDDLE OF LAST CENTURY.
BY CH. FRED. AUG. KAHNIS, D.D.,
PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LEIPZIG.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
REV. THEODORE MEYER,
HEBREW TUTOR IN THE NEW COLLEGE, EDINBURGA.
AND SMITH. PHILADELPHIA : SMITH & ENGLISH.
942.47 K12 il 1856
In laying Dr Kahnis' work in an English garb before the public, I feel that I have much cause to crave the reader's forbearance and indulgence, as regards the translation.
People in this country often complain that the translations of German works, especially of those on philosophy, are in an English so barbarous, that instead of relishing them, they have the greatest difficulty in even understanding them. But while it may be admitted, that such complaints are so far just, the blame, for the most part, ought to fall upon the authors, not upon the translators. The philosophical language of Germany is so entirely peculiar, is itself so dark and barbarous, that it almost defies translation. The translator, at all events, cannot be expected to render in smooth and elegant, in intelligible and perspicuous English, an original which is destitute of these qualities. If, then, the translation of even entire philosophical works and systems be encompassed with very great difficulties, how much greater must these be in a work, which, like the present, deals so much in outlines ? The translator has done what he could; but no one is more conscious than himself of his short-comings.
The responsibility of a translator is exhausted, or at least ought to be so, when he has given a faithful translation of his original; but, whether right or wrong, he is more or less identified with, and charged with a responsibility for, the work translated. As far as the latter is concerned, I can the less refuse to bear it, that I greatly encouraged the Publishers to take the translation of this work in hand. I did so chiefly for two reasons :
1.-I thought, and still think, that the present work will, if it do not entirely fill up, at least furnish some materials for filling up, a blank in our literature. It cannot be denied, that every where in this country there prevails the greatest interest for the development of German theology. The numerous translations of German theological works,—the attention which, in periodicals and magazines, is paid to Germany, both as to its literary productions, and the practical efforts put forth for reclaiming to the Church the large masses which are alienated from her,—the numerous questions put to German travellers, and to myself, by Christians of all denominations, with whom I have come in contact during a residence of seven years in this country,—all bear ample testimony to this interest. And such interest is certainly well deserved, not only because Germany, as the home of the Reformation, cannot fail to be dear to the heart of every Evangelical Christian, but also, and chiefly, be
cause the struggle which Christianity had to sustain in Germany, during the last century, was one of the noblest, and one which, more than any previous conflict, proves its Divine origin, vitality, and power! I think, moreover, that I am not wrong in saying, that there exists also, more or less consciously, a secret presentiment that, sooner or later, in some form or another, we shall have here, too, to sustain a similar struggle against similar foes; and that it is this presentiment which invests the German battle-field with such peculiar interest for the British theologian and Christian. The phenomena on the territory of theology in Germany during the last century, however, do not stand isolated, but are most intimately connected and bound up with the phenomena on the territory of philosophy, and with the political events, so that they can be understood only in connection with them. It is this circumstance which makes it so difficult for foreigners to get at a proper understanding and estimation of German theological productions; and it is just because the present work views theology in this connection, that I think its appearance in an English dress will be welcomed by not a few in this country. As far as I know, it is the first German work which has attempted such a comprehensive survey of the internal history of German Protestantism during the last century. And without here entering into details regarding the Author's position and object —which he himself explains in the introduction—it may be sufficient to mention, that the book has been received