Hegler, Alfred (1863-1902)
Alfred Hegler was professor of church history at the University of Tübingen. His father was a lawyer, but both grandfathers were ministers in Württemberg and exerted a great influence on his future course. He was educated in the seminaries of Maulbromi, Blaubeuren, and at the Stift in Tübingen. After a brief period of ministry in the country and at the Hofkirche at Stuttgart, he studied theology and philosophy a half year in Berlin, having written an excellent doctoral thesis on Psychologie in Kants Ethik. In 1889-1892 he lectured on philosophy. He planned to become an instructor of philosophy.
But in 1892 Weizsäcker won him over to church history. After he had taught a course on the "enthusiasts" (Schwärmer) in the Reformation period, he established himself with his book, Geist und Schrift bei Sebastian Franck, eine Studie zur Geschichte des Spiritualismus in der Reformationszeit (1892). The idea of the subjectivity of religion seemed to him to be the center of Franck's thoughts and the source of his criticism of theology and church institutions. Hegler agreed thoroughly with Franck's ideas of tolerance.
Now he arrived at a plan for a lifework, viz., to write a history of spiritualism in the era of the Reformation. He meant to begin with Eckhart, Tauler, Ruysbroek, Nachfolge Christi, Deutsche Theologie, then treat Karlstadt and the Anabaptists, as well as Schwenckfeld, follow spiritualism up to the time of Pietism, in Germany, France, Holland, and England. His ambitious program, for which he did a vast amount of research in archives and libraries, would have occupied a long life, but he was able to publish articles only on Campanus, Davidis, Hans Denck, Sebastian Franck, Gichtel, Gonesius, Ludwig Haetzer, Melchior Hoffman, Hubmaier, Hans Hut, the Inspired, Joris, Kautz and Marsay in Protestantische Realenzyklopädie. But his program, published posthumously by Walther Köhler, in his edition of Flegler's Beiträge zur Geschichte der Mystik in der Reformationszeit (1906), pp. XXVI f., must sooner or later become realized. In 1894 Hegler was made associate professor, and after Weizsäcker’s death (1900) full professor. On 4 December 1902, he succumbed to kidney trouble. (A biography by W. Koehler in Hegler's Beiträge zur Mystik, 1906.) (Mennonitisches Lexikon II: 273.)
Hegler's idea of a history of "Spiritualism" in the age of Reformation has partly been carried out by the outstanding leader of the American Quakers, Rufus M. Jones, in his standard book, Spiritual Reformers of the Sixteenth Century (London, 1914). Since the term "spiritualism" might be misunderstood (over against its clear meaning in German), the term "spiritual reformers" as introduced by R. M. Jones has generally been accepted.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 273.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 690. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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APA style: Bossert, Gustav, Sr.. (1956). Hegler, Alfred (1863-1902). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/hegler_alfred_1863_1902.