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Christian Wilhelm Franz Walch

jena history

CHRISTIAN WILHELM FRANZ WALCH (1726-1784), younger brother of J. E. I. Walch, was born at Jena December 25, 1726. He was educated at Jena under his father's direction, and as early as 1745-1747 lectured in the university in branches of exegesis, philosophy, and history. He then travelled with his brother J. E. I. Walch for a year through the Continent, making the acquaintance of the learned men of each country. On his return he was made professor of theology in Jena, but in 1753 he accepted an invitation to Gottingen, where he spent his life as professor of theology. He lectured on dogmatics, church history, ethics, polemics, natural theology, symbolics, the epistles of Paul, Christian antiquities, historical theological literature, ecclesiastical law, and the fathers. His permanent place amongst learned theologians rests on his works on ecclesiastical history. He here holds the third place in the important trio Semler, Mosheim, Walch. Semler was much his superior in originality and boldness, and Mosheim in clearness, method, and elegance. But to his wide, deep, and accurate learning, to his conscientious and impartial examination of the facts and the authorities at first hand, and to " his exact quotation of the sources and works illustrating them and careful discussion of the most minute details " all succeeding historians are deeply indebted. His method is critical and pragmatic, "pursuing everywhere the exact facts and the supposed causes of the outward changes of history," leaving wholly out of sight the deeper moving principles and ideas which influence its course. He speaks of history as consisting of "the accidental changes of accidental matters." But, although he thus failed to reach the modern standard of an historian, the results of his industry and research remain as permanent historical materials.

His principal work was his Entwof einer mlistandigen Historie der Ketzereim, Spaitungen, and Religionsstrcitigkeitcn, bis auf die Reformation, 11 vols., Leipsic, 1762-85. It was a great advance in theological liberality that he defined a heretic on the one hand as a Christian and on the other as one in fundamental error. He thus claimed for the heretic a place in the church, while he declined to treat as heretical such differences as divided great sections of Christians. Of his other valuable works may be mentioned Entwurf dater vollstandigen historic der Rdmisehen Piipstc (1756, 2d ed. 1758), Entuwrf einer vollstandigen Historic der Kirchenversammlungen (1759), Bib/jot/tem Symbolica Vetus (1770), Kritische Untersachung nose Gebrauch der heiligcn Schrift linter den altese Christen (1779), occasioned by the controversy between Lessing and Goeze, and to which Lessing began an elaborate reply just before his death.

On C. W. F. Walch as historian see Baur, Epoehen der kirchliehen GeschichtsehreThung (1852), p. 145 sq., and Doginengeschichte, p. 38 sq. (1867, 3d ed.); Gass, Geschidte der Protestantischen Dogmatik, p. 267 sq. ; Meuse], Lexicon verstorbener deutscher Sehriftsteller, vol. xiv.

IV. CARL FRIEDRICH WALCH (1731-1799), brother of the last-named, was professor of jurisprudence at Jena, and the author of several valuable legal works. He died at Jena in 1799. His son Georg Ludwig (1785-1838) was for a time professor in the Kloster gymnasium of Berlin and afterwards in the university of Greifswald. He edited valuable editions of Tacitus's Agricola and Germania.

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