Friedrich Stahl 1802-1861
Stahl was born to orthodox jewish parents in Munich. His father, a wealthy banker, sent him to the city’s high school, where he was the first Jewish student to be accepted. But his studies at the Gymnasium gave him his first introduction to the Christian faith. Even as a 14 year old he entered into discussions of spiritual matters with his teachers and fellow students. It was his teacher, Thiersch, in the Philologic Institute, who especially drew him towards the christian faith – that and his interest in Schiller’s works. When he was 17 years old he was fully convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was his Redeemer, Israel’s Messiah, and the Saviour and he took the step of baptism in Munich. His family was shocked, but when his father realised that his step was a result of deep personal conviction, he resigned himself to accept him with his faith. Friedrich’s consistent and enthusiastic testimony so impressed his family – both his parents and seven of his brothers and sisters – that they too came to faith and were baptised four years after he was in the same church in Munich.
Stahl wished now to study theology, but gave up this idea and turned to the study of law at the Universities of Wuerzburg, Erlangen and Heidelberg, earning a doctorate in 1826. In 1834 he represented the University of Erlangen in the Bavarian Parliament. In 1840 he became professor of law at the University of Berlin.
In Stahl’s day the evangelical church was subject to discriminatory laws, and he stepped into the head of a movement that stove for greater freedom for the church. He believed fervently that Christianity should pervade the wole life and also the state. According to Lord Acton, Stahl had a more predominant influence and shewed more political ability than Lord Beaconsfield, that is, Benjamin Disraeli, another Jewish believer who was active in politics in Great Britain and served twice as prime minister. (see Acton, Letters to Mary Gladstone, London 1904). He spoke up boldly against the jesuit-controlled ministry in the government, and suffered for this in his career. Nevertheless, Stahl could not be hushed up, and his persistence gained him the attention of the crown prince Friedrich Wilhelm von Presussen. When this prince rose to power in 1840 he called him to Berlin as professor of law and Philosophy.
Stahl died in 1861 after a long and influential career. He is perhaps one of those who had the most influence on the official, spiritual and church life of Prussia in his day.
Ueber die Kirchenzucht,1845 (2d ed. 1858);
Das Monarchische Prinzip, Heidelberg, 1845;
Der Christliche Staat, ib. 1847 (2d ed. 1858);
Die Revolution und die Konstitutionelle Monarchie, 1848 (2d ed. 1849);
Was Ist Revolution? ib. 1852, of which three editions were issued. His subsequent writings were:
Der Protestantismus als Politisches Prinzip, ib. 1853 (3d ed. 1854);
Die Katholischen Widerlegungen, ib. 1854;
Wider Bunsen, 1856;
Die Lutherische Kirche und die Union, 1859 (2d ed. 1860). After his death there were published
Siebenzehn Parlamentarische Reden, ib. 1862, and
Die Gegenwärtigen Parteien in Staat und Kirche, ib. 1868.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. 1909. New edition, 1999 Keren Ahvah Meshichit
Biographie von Stahl, in Unsere Zeit, vi. 419-447 (anonymous, but probably by Gneist)
de le Roi, volume 1, p. 236-9
Gartenhaus, Jacob. Famous Hebrew Christians. Baker Book House, 1979
Pernice, Savigny, Stahl (anonymous; Berlin, 1862)
Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.