Isaak August Dorner


 A System of Christian Doctrine (1879)

Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment – Matthew 24:15

(On Matthew 23:37-39)
“That these words (“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” etc) were spoken by Christ, not where Luke, but where Matthew, places them, the words themselves show; for they were spoken when our Lord was departing from the temple to return to it no more till he came to judgment.” (Orations on Christian Eschatology, p. 43)

(On Matthew 12:39)
“For ‘the Gentiles’ are opposed to the Jews; therefore “this generation ” [ha genea] must signify the nation or race of the Jews’ (Dorner, Orat. Chr. Esch., p. 81).


Alexander Brown
“Let us not forget that once in the Church’s history it was the common belief that John’s 1000 years were gone. Dorner bears witness that the Church up to Constantine understood by Antichrist chiefly the heathen state, and to some extent unbelieving Judaism (System iv.,390). Victorinus, a bishop martyred in 303, reckoned the 1000 years from the birth of Christ.”


Born June 20, 1809, Neuhausen, Württemberg [Germany]
died July 8, 1884, Wiesbaden, Ger.

German Protestant theologian who sought to interpret Kantian and post-Kantian thought in terms of traditional Lutheran doctrine. The best known of the English translations of his many works is History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ, 5 vol. (1861–63). Among the English versions of Dorner’s writings that strove to mediate the liberal–conservative controversy within 19th-century German Protestantism are History of Protestant Theology, 2 vol. (1871), System of Christian Doctrine, 4 vol. (1880–82), and System of Christian Ethics (1887).

The Christology of Isaak Dorner Revisited 33

Abstract: Isaak Dorner was a major German theologian of the mid-nineteenth century. His major work was a history of the doctrine of the person of Christ, but his own constructive Christological proposals have largely been overlooked. Dorner postulates a universal human capacity for the divine and an eternal will of the Divine to become human through the Logos. He denies that the human nature is either abstract or general. Jesus is a special human being created by God, a Second Adam with a unique responsiveness to the Divine. The special aspect of Dorner’s Christology is his contention that the incarnation must be progressive. As the human life of Christ developed there must have been also development of the God-humanity as the Logos continually appropriated new capacities generated by the human development. His Christology sought to protect the full humanity of Christ as expressed by the young Luther, yet also protect the changeless glory of the Divine as expressed in Reformed theology.

The theological positions to which he ultimately attained are best seen in his Christliche Glaubenslehre, published shortly before his death (1879-1881). It is “a work extremely rich in thought and matter. It takes the reader through a mass of historical material by the examination and discussion of ancient and modern teachers, and so leads up to the author’s own view, which is mostly one intermediate between the opposite extremes, and appears as a more or less successful synthesis of antagonistic theses” (Pfleiderer). The companion work, System der christlichen Sittenlehre, was published by his son August Dorner in 1886. He also contributed articles to Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie, and was the founder and for many years one of the editors of the Jahrbücher fur deutsche Theologie.

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