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Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg

Ernst Wilhelm Theodor Herrmann Hengstenberg (20 October 1802, in Fröndenberg – 28 May 1869, in Berlin), was a German Lutheran churchman and neo-Lutheran theologian from an old and important Dortmund family.

Born in Fröndenberg, a Westphalian town, and educated by his father Johann Heinrich Karl Hengstenberg, who was a famous minister of the Reformed Church and head of the Fröndenberg convent of canonesses (Fräuleinstift), Ernst entered the University of Bonn in 1819 where his energies were principally devoted to philosophy and philology.

Without means to finish his studies he accepted a post at Basel as tutor in Oriental languages to Johann Jakob Stähelin, a Swiss theologian, who specialized in Old Testament studies.

It was during this time that he began to direct his attention to a study of the Bible, which led him to a conviction, not only of the divine character of evangelical religion, but also of the unapproachable adequacy of its expression in the Augsburg Confession.

In 1824 he joined the philosophical faculty of the University of Berlin as a privatdozent, and in 1825 he became a licentiate in theology, his theses being remarkable for their evangelical fervour and for their emphatic protest against every form of "rationalism", especially in questions of Old Testament criticism.

In 1828 the first volume of Hengstenberg's Christology in the Old Testament (Christologie das Alten Testaments) passed through the press; in the autumn of that year he became professor ordinarius in theology, and in 1829 doctor of theology.