Life And Character Of Dr. Neander -- By: George M. Adams

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 008:30 (Apr 1851)
Article: Life And Character Of Dr. Neander
Author: George M. Adams


Life And Character Of Dr. Neander1

George M. Adams

Johann August Wilhelm Neander was born on the 16th of January, 1789, at Göttingen in the present kingdom of Hanover. He was the child of Jewish parents of the name of Mendel, and accordingly bore that name during his early years. His father was a wealthy merchant at Göttingen, but while Augustus was yet a child, was reduced by misfortunes in business to comparative poverty and removed with his family to Hamburg. He had five children; of whom one son studied medicine, but died young; another became a merchant in Russia; a richly gifted daughter after many vicissitudes of fortune became insane; and another daughter, Johanna, shared to the last the fortunes of the son of whom we have chiefly to speak.

Augustus was distinguished in the family from his earliest youth by a decided fondness for study. His progress was remarkably rapid. When eight years old he could learn nothing more from his private teacher. It is told that at this time a worthy bookseller in Hamburg, “was struck with the frequent visits to his shop of a bashful, ungainly boy, who used to steal in and seize upon some erudite volume that no one else would touch, and utterly lose himself for hours together in study.” At the preparatory school and at the Gymnasium, Neander won the lasting favor of his instructors, especially of Johann Gurlitt, then Director of the Gymnasium at Hamburg, and esteemed throughout Germany for his services in the cause of education. This worthy man was a second father to his favorite pupil, and his kindness to him did not end with their connection at the Gymnasium. The mutual attachment formed here continued through the lifetime of the teacher. Gurlitt, though not free from the reigning rationalism of the age, was a man of high moral principle, and we should naturally attribute to him an important part in developing in Neander that extreme conscientiousness which distinguished him as a Jew, and which was always

among the prominent traits of his character. And doubtless something was here due to the teacher, but more to the mother of Neander, who had a deep, earnest religious character and seems to have exerted over him a commanding influence. His youthful associates speak of the peculiar tenderness with which he always alluded to her. And all the readers of his History will remember the manifest predilection with which he delineates the character and maternal influence of Anthusa, Monica, and other eminent mothers.

We come to the latter part of his life at the Gymnasium, the year 1805–6. A valuable insight into his inward history at this period is furnished in a few letters from him to Ch...

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