ABSTRACT

When Karl Barth, after the discharge from his professorship in Bonn and the apparent lack of prospects regarding other theological appointments in Germany, accepted the hastily created function as professor at the university of his native town of Basel in June of 1935, he decided in the first years of his teaching and research there to give special attention to several postReformation theologians who had preceded him in this city. Thus the (delayed) inaugural address which he held on 6 May 1936 was on Samuel Werenfels,1 the local representative of the so-called ‘reasonable orthodoxy’ of the early eighteenth century.2 And in three semesters in 1937 and 19383 he and the students in his ‘society’ focussed on the two-part Compendium theologiae Christianae of Johannes Wollebius (1626) which had recently been re-edited by Ernst Bizer.4 Yet it seems that the most important outcome of Barth’s turn to Basel theology was his ongoing conversation with his distant but also – in his own words – ‘illustrious’ predecessor5 as professor in Basel, Amandus Polanus a Polansdorf (1561-1610), whose Syntagma theologiae Christianae

412-13), Barth draws a line of theological indecision in Basel’s genius loci: Erasmus – Oecolampadius – Werenfels – De Wette – Hagenbach. See also Barth (1947c), 124. To be sure, the uncompromising Amandus Polanus and his companion Johann Jakob Grynaeus are the exceptions to this rule.