Gotthard Victor Lechler

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Gotthard Victor Lechler (April 18, 1811 – December 26, 1888), German Lutheran theologian, was born at Kloster Reichenbach in Württemberg.

He studied at the University of Tübingen under Ferdinand Christian Baur, and became in 1858 pastor of the church of St Thomas, professor ordinarius of historical theology and superintendent of the Lutheran church of Leipzig.

A disciple of Johann August Wilhelm Neander, he belonged to the extreme right of the school of mediating theologians. He is important as the historian of early Christianity and of the pre-Reformation period. Although Baur was his teacher, he did not attach himself to the Tübingen school; in reply to the contention that there are traces of a sharp conflict between two parties, Paulinists and Petrinists, he says that "we find variety coupled with agreement, and unity with difference, between Paul and the earlier apostles; we recognize the one spirit in the many gifts."

His Das apostolische und das nachapostolische Zeitalter (1851), which developed out of a prize essay (1849), passed through three editions in Germany (3rd ed., 1885), and was translated into English (2 vols., 1886). The work which in his own opinion was his greatest, Johann von Wiclif und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation (2 vols., 1873), appeared in English with the title John Wycliffe and his English Precursors (1878, new ed., 1884). An earlier work, Geschichte des engl. Deismus (1841), was a contribution to the study of religious thought in England.

Lechler's other works include Geschichte der Presbyterial- und Synodal-verfassung (1854), Urkundenfunde zur Geschichte des christl. Altertums (1886), and biographies of Thomas Bradwardine (1862) and Robert Grosseteste (1867). He wrote part of the commentary on the Acts of the Apostles in Johann Peter Lange's Bibelwerk. From 1882 he edited with F. W. Dibelius the Beiträge zur sächsischen Kirchengeschichte. Johannes Hus (1890) was published after his death.

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