After all a theology student

At the neighbour blog The Renaissance Mathematicus discusses Thony Christie that Kepler was not a theology student.

The part about the theology studies is however not true. This myth was created by historians and it would be interesting to trace who first put it out in the world […]

That Kepler’s theology studies shall be a myth is new for me and I think this statement would need some more explanations of the sources that contradict. It looks as if somebody interpreted the term theology studies differently than all other authors I read before and that one even tries to prove Kepler himself wrong.

As far as I understand, Kepler never expressed that he studied for a doctorate. He aimed at to become a priest. In his own words:

Nachdem ich im Jahr 1591 den Magistergrad erlangt hatte, ging ich nunmehr an das Studium der Theologie […]

Kepler thereafter describes some considerations and doubts in theological problems, however, he did not discuss them publicely, not even with his mentor and friend Hafenreffer. He feared to risk an employment as priest.

Kepler was at first not only disappointed by the call to Graz. He also considered this as interruption of his studies to achieve an employment within the Church. Max Caspar describes Keplers feelings as follows

Er [Kepler] hatte sich in Gedanken bereits im geistlichen Talar auf der Kanzel gesehen, und nach seinen bisherigen Studienerfolgen durfte er auf eine ehrenvolle Laufbahn im Kirchendienst rechnen. Das Studium der heiligen Wissenschaften, so sagt er, sei ihm bis heute durch die Gnade Gottes so lieb und teuer geworden, daß er, was immer dereinst mit ihm geschehe, nicht daran dächte, es je zu unterbrechen, wenn Gott ihm fernerhin gesunden Geist und Freiheit gewähre. Und nun sollte er so nahe am Ziel das Studium vor dem Abschluß abbrechen und ein Lehramt an einer Knabenschule annehmen, das nach dem Urteil der Zeit gegenüber einem Kirchenamt geradezu als verachtet galt (wie er sich selber ausdrückt).

Even if the „Abschluß“ did not lead to a doctorate, it was the case that these studies had to be finished in order to get an employment by the church.

With respect to the studies in the Stift of Tübingen do we know that those studies have been graded with respect to „preaches“ and „studies“. Therefore, Kepler asked for options to continue his studies in Graz on his own and to move on into an employment by the church later. Finally he accepted the call to Graz under the condition to have the possibility of a return to Tübingen in order to finish his studies.

So far, we can answer the question if Kepler studied theology quite clearly. Kepler himself did not strove after a career in academic theology, however, he used the term „theology studies“ for his continued education after the graduation as magister artium on August 11th, 1791.

I think it is correct to use this term also today, Kepler will have known how the studies have been rated in 1591.

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Kategorien: Astronomie, Geschichte

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