David Friedrich Strauss

On this date in 1808, theologian and author David Friedrich Strauss was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany, the son of a merchant. He pioneered scholarship questioning the historicity of Jesus. Strauss became a Lutheran vicar in 1830 and studied theology under Hegel. He was appointed to the Theological Seminary at the University at Tubingen. His two-volume work Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (1835) dissected the New Testament as largely mythical and was published to great acclaim but lost him his teaching post. The British freethinking novelist George Eliot translated its fourth edition in 1860 into English.

In 1836 he left the church. In 1841 he married mezzo-soprano opera singer Agnese Schebest. They divorced in 1846 after having two children. In his final book, The Old Faith and the New: A Confession (1872), Strauss eschewed Christianity and the concept of immortality to embrace materialist philosophy.  D. 1874.

Freedom From Religion Foundation