Vom Zürcher Straußenhandel zu Nietzsches Basler Straußiade: David Friedrich Strauß als Märtyrer

Daniela Kohler


After his “Leben Jesu” (1835) and his unsuccessful vocation in Zurich Strauß developed, according to the social analysis of cultural reproduction theory by Pierre Bourdieu, the habitus of a victim of his own belief, a martyr. This habitus is shown in the works he wrote after the end of his academic theological career. In “Leben und Schriften des Dichters Nicodemus Frischlin” (1856) and in “Ulrich von Hutten” (1858) he portrays two authors who were both unsuccessful in their work and their lives and became victims of their beliefs. Not only these biographies but also the translation of Huttens Latin oeuvres modified Strauß’ habitus: in giving popularity to forgotten authors and works he felt that the time had come to rehabilitate his “Leben Jesu”, especially because he considered it to be a milestone of theological development. He thus modified the habitus of a martyr into the habitus of a risen hero. Instead of creating a new edition of his “Leben Jesu” he wrote the popular version “Leben Jesu, für das deutsche Volk bearbeitet” (1864), followed by “Der alte und der neue Glaube” (1872). Nietzsche’s very polemic critique of this last work in “Unzeitgemässe Betrachtung” (1873) deals closely with the modified habitus of Strauß and shows the latter to have become yet again a martyr of his own beliefs.


David Friedrich Strauß; Friedrich Nietzsche; Pierre Bourdieu; historical Jesus; biography; history of literature

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