The Right Reverend
Hans Lassen Martensen
|Diocese of Zealand|
|Church||Church of Denmark|
|Diocese||Diocese of Zealand|
|Predecessor||Jacob Peter Mynster|
|Successor||Bruun Juul Fog|
|Born||August 19, 1808|
Flensburg, Duchy of Schleswig (present day Germany)
|Died||February 3, 1884 (aged 75)|
|Alma mater||University of Copenhagen|
Martensen was born in a middle-class Lutheran family in Flensburg, in the Duchy of Schleswig (now Germany), as their only son. At that time Schleswig was a duchy between Holstein and Denmark. He grew up in a German-speaking society, while his father who was a schoolmaster, writer and sea-captain preferred to use Danish. Consequently the young Martensen upbrought in a multicultural situation and reconciliation of different cultures became his one of central interests through his life.
He was schooled at the Metropolitanskolen and studied theology at the University of Copenhagen and later was ordained in the Danish Church. From 1834 till 1836 he travelled foreign countries. He visited several cities including Berlin, Munich, Vienna and Paris. He met influential intellects including David Strauss (1808–1874). During his travel, he began to read mystics; Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler and Jakob Böhme. Also he studied Dante's The Divine Comedy with a great interest.
As theologian and clergyman
At Copenhagen he was lektor in theology in 1838, professor extra-ordinarius in 1840, court preacher also in 1845, and professor ordinarius in 1850. Once he was offered to a bishopric from the Church of Sweden but declined. In 1854 however he gave up his educational career and was made bishop of Zealand, the Danish Primate. In his studies he had come under the influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Franz Xaver von Baader (1765–1841); but he was a man of independent mind, and developed a peculiar speculative theology which showed a disposition towards mysticism and theosophy.
His contributions to theological literature included treatises on Christian ethics and dogmatics, on moral philosophy, on baptism, and a sketch of the life of German philosopher Jakob Böhme (1575–1624) whose works exercised a marked influence on the mind of English theologian William Law (1686-1761).
Martensen was a distinguished preacher, and his works were translated into various languages. The "official" eulogy he pronounced upon Bishop Jacob Peter Mynster (1775–1854) in 1854, in which he affirmed that the deceased man was one of the authentic truth-witnesses of Christianity to have appeared in the world since apostolic times, brought down upon his head the invectives of Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Icelandic theologian Magnús Eiríksson (1806–1881), who lived in Copenhagen from 1831 until his death, was very critical of Martensen’s speculative theology, which he attacked in various publications from 1844 to 1850.
- Grundriss des Systems der Moralphilosophie (1841; 3rd ed., 1879; German, 1845)
- "Dr. S. Kierkegaard mod Dr. H. Martensen: et indlaeg (1856)". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Die christliche Taufe und die baptistische Frage (2nd ed., 1847; German, 2nd ed., 1860)
- "Christian Dogmatics: A Compendium of the Doctrines of Christianity English translation (1874)". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Christian Ethics (1871; Eng. trans., Part I. 1873,". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- "Christian Ethics Part II. 1881". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Hirtenspiegel (1870-1872)
- Katholizismus und Protestantismus (1874)
- Jacob Boehme; Studies in his Life and Teaching (1882; Eng. trans., 1885, reprint 1949)]
An autobiography, Aus meinem Leben, appeared in 1883, and after his death the Briefwechsel zwischen Martensen und Dorner.
- "Hans Lassen Martensen". Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
- Stephan Hobhouse, "Editor's introduction to Jacob Boehme", Rockliff, 1949, xvi.
- Stephan Hobhouse, "Editor's introduction to Jacob Boehme", Rockliff, 1949, xviif.
- Strauß, David Friedrich Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Retrieved November 1, 2020
- Böhme, Jakob Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon Retrieved November 1, 2020
- William Law Christianity Today Retrieved November 1, 2020
- Magnus Eiríksson Dansk Biografisk Leksikon Retrieved November 1, 2020
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Martensen, Hans Lassen". Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 787.
- Jon Stewart (ed.), Hans Lassen Martensen - Theologian, Philosopher and Social Critic, Museum Tusculanum Press, 2012. ISBN 978-87-635-3169-6.