GOETHE, JOHANN WOLFGANG VON – Sermons and Biblical Studies


(August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832), was a German poet, playwright and novelist. Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, he achieved recognition with his “sturm und drang” style play Gotz von Berlichingen, 1773, and the romantic novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774. He lived at the ducal court of Saxe-Weimar from 1775 till his death. A visit to Italy, 1786–88, gave inspiration for the plays Iphigenie auf Tauris, 1787, and Egmont, 1788. He wrote Torquato Tasso, 1790; The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister, 1795–96; and his most noted work, Faust, written in stages over his career, 1808–32. He compiled fourteen volumes of scientific studies, with his complete works totaling 133 volumes, published in the Weimar edition, 1887–1919.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated:

Let mental culture go on advancing, let the natural sciences progress in ever greater extent and depth, and the human mind widen itself as much as it desires; beyond the elevation and moral culture of Christianity, as it shines forth in the gospels, it will not go.1351

It is a belief in the Bible, the fruit of deep meditation, which has served me as the guide of my moral and literary life. I have found it a capital safely invested, and richly productive of interest.1352

In Conversations with Eckermann, 1828–29, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote:

I esteem the Gospels to be thoroughly genuine, for there shines from them the reflected splendor of a sublimity proceeding from the person of Jesus Christ of so Divine a kind as only the Divine could ever have manifested on earth.1353

In Aus Makarieus Archiv W. Meister, 1786–1830, Goethe wrote:

I am persuaded that the Bible becomes evermore beautiful the more it is understood; that is, the more we consider that every word which we apply to ourselves has had at first a particular, peculiar, immediate reference to certain special circumstances.1354

In his Autobiography, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote:

Nothing, therefore, remained to me but to part from this society; and as my love for the Holy Scriptures, as well as the Founder of Christianity, and its early professors, could not be taken from me, I formed a Christianity for my private use, and sought to build it up by an attentive study of history.1355