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Johannes Weiss

1863-1914. German Protestant NT critic. Son of B. Weiss,* the famous conservative scholar, he was educated at the universities of Marburg, Berlin, Göttingen, and Breslau, and later taught NT at Göttingen (1888-95), Marburg (1895-1908), and Heidelberg (1908-14). With W. Bousset, H. Gunkel,* and R. Reitzenstein,* he represented the comparative religions (religionsgeschictlich) approach to the study of the Bible. His book Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes (Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, 1892), in which he interpreted the message of Jesus entirely in terms of futuristic or “consistent” (konsequent) eschatology, was his most influential work. Along with the similar works of Wrede and Schweitzer,* Weiss's work marked the end in Germany of the older liberal interpretation of Jesus and His message-which had interpreted the kingdom of God as an inward, spiritual experience, or as a system of ethics-and paved the way for the work of Bultmann* and his followers. In an article on the literary history of the NT which appeared in the first edition of the reference work Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (1912), Weiss expounded the principles of form- criticism which were later developed by M. Dibelius,* K.L. Schmidt, and Bultmann. His monumental history of early Christian history and literature, Das Urchristentum (1914; ET 1937) was completed and edited by R. Knopf and published posthumously.