Philip Schaff

1819-1893. Theologian, church historian, and pioneer ecumenist. Born in Switzerland, son of a carpenter, he gained his education through scholarships. After graduating from the gymnasium at Stuttgart, he entered Tübingen University where he studied under F.C. Baur. Later he attended Halle and Berlin universities, where he studied with F.A.G. Tholuck, E.W. Hengstenberg, and J.A.W. Neander. A brilliant student, he was invited in 1844 to become professor of church history and biblical literature in the theological seminary of the German Reformed Church at Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Principle of Protestantism (1844; new ed., 1964), his inaugural address, viewed the history of the Christian Church as a divine development leading to a merger of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism into a renewed evangelical Catholicism. This address caused him to be cited for heresy, but he was later exonerated. In the following years he and John Nevin* shaped the Mercersburg Theology.* From 1870 until his death he was professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Beginning in 1866, he was also active in the cause of Christian unity through working in the Evangelical Alliance.* A prolific writer, he published A History of the Christian Church (7 vols., 1858- 92) and The Creeds of Christendom (3 vols., 1877). He edited the translated editions of Lange's Commentary (1864-80) and the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1884) and helped to prepare the Revised Version of the Bible. In 1888 he founded the American Society of Church History and served as its first president.

See D.S. Schaff, The Life of Philip Schaff (1897).