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FABRICIUS, Johannes Albert

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  • Date of Birth: November 11, 1668
  • Born City: Leipzig
  • Born State/Country: Germany
  • Parents: Werner Fabricius, a musician and musicologist, & wife.
  • Date of Death: April 30, 1736
  • Death City: Hamburg
  • Death State/Country: Germany
  • Married: Margaretha Schultze, April 4, 1700.
  • Education:

    Gymnasium, Quedlinburg, 1684-6; study at Leipzig, 1686-8; M.A., 1688; Th.D. Kiel, 1699; 

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. practical philosophy and eloquence, Akademisches Gymnasium, Hamburg, 1699-1736; rector, 1708-11; co-ed., Die Patriot, 1724-6.

  • Publications:

    Scriptorum recentiorum decas (Hamburg, 1688); Exercitatio de platonismo Philonis Judaei viro doctissimo Johanni Jonsio opposita (Leipzig, 1693); Bibliotheca Latina, 6 vols., (Hamburg, 1699; 3rd ed. 1721; repr.London & Venice; rev. J.A. Ernesti, Leipzig, 1773 and others); Codex apocryphus Novi Testamenti (Hamburg, 1703); Bibliotheca Graeca, 14 vols., (Hamburg, 1705-28);  Bibliographia antiquaria (Hamburg, 1713); Codex pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti, 2 vols. (Hamburg, 1713-23); Salutaris lux evangelii toti orbi per divinam gratiam exoriens, sive notitia historico chronologica literaria et geographica propagatorum per orbem totum Christianorum sacrorum (Hamburg, 1713); Sextus Empiricus (1718); Delectus argumentorum et syllabus scriptorum qui veritatem religionis Christianae adversus Atheos, Epicureos, Deistas seu Naturalistas, Idololatras, Judaeos et Muhammedanos lucubrationibus suis asseruerunt (Hamburg, 1725); Centifolium Lutheranum (Hamburg, 1728-30); Pyrotheologie (Hamburg, 1732); Bibliotheca Latina mediae et infimae aetatis, 4 vols. (Graz, 1734-36); Hydrotheologie (Hamburg, 1734); Opusculorum historico-critico-literariorum sylloge quae sparsim viderant lucem nunc recensita denuo et partem aucta indice instruuntur (Hamburg, 1738); Dio Cassius with commentary (completed by H.S. Reimarus, 1752).

  • Notes:

    Albert Fabricius lost his parents at an early age and was raised by relatives in Leipzig and Quedlinburg. He studied medicine, theology, and philology until 1693 when he moved to the home of relatives in Bergedorf. In the next year he was invited to Hamburg by the theologian Johann Friedrich Mayer (1650-1712) to serve as secretary and librarian. Introduced at court to the learned men and their research, Fabricius determined to devote himself to scholarship and earned a doctorate in theology. Following his appointment to the Gymnasium, he resolved to remain in Hamburg for the rest of his life and declined to work at a university. Hamburg was at that time, in Wilamowitz’s words, “undoubtedly the most cultured city of Germany.”  There were numerous theological arguments raging at the time, but Fabricius dedicated himself to the collection of biographical and bibliographical encyclopedias of both Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, and his own time. Bibliotheca Latina (1697) ran to many editions and a famous revision by his mentee J.A. Ernesti (1797-81). His Bibliotheca Graeca, like its companion volume, established textual apparatus, authenticity of authorship, and history of manuscripts and editions with indices. Wilamowitz said of these works, “The amount of learning he crammed into his Bibliotheca Graeca and Bibliotheca Latina is positively uncanny;…Everything is concise, clear and well arranged. Fabricius was familiar with the scholars of every age and their works, and so far from confining himself to antiquity Christian and pagan, he paid due regard to the Byzantines, on whom he brought together a body of material which is none the less valuable for having been left unused.” These works established Fabricius as a major classical scholar and remained standard throughout Europe in many editions and translations for nearly a century. He freely maintained correspondence with scholars across Europe and made his large personal library available to them. 

    He revised many notable editions by previous scholars, including Sextus Empiricus and Chalcidius’s commentary on Plato’s Timaeus and made the editio princeps of Hippolytus of Rome. His son-in law H.S. Reimarus (1694-1768) completed his edition of Dio Cassius and G.E. Lessing (1729-81), greatly influenced by the Hamburg group, published fragments of Fabricius’s “Apologia,” a critique of Lutheranism, as Fragmente des Wolfenbüttelschen Ungenannten in 1774.

    On a tight spiritual leash during the life of his father-in-law, Johann Schultze (1643-1709), rector of the Gelehrtenschule in Hamburg, Fabricius reserved his most virulent attacks on church teaching until after his death. Using terms associated with the Enlightenment and a philological method he contributed significant arguments for the reconciliation of religious dogma with the teachings of the church. His religious writings, including his editions of the apocryphal Gospels and Acts of the Apostles as well as the Church Fathers, an overview of the entire Luther literature (Centifolium Lutheranum, Hamburg 1728-1730), an annotated bibliography of Christian apologetics (Delectus argumentorum…) and a history of the missions of the church (Salutaris lux…) employed challenged existing church dogma. Eventually his theology led him to the field of physicotheology and works on hydrotheology and pyrotheology in the attempt to reconcile the physical and spiritual worlds. 

    Fabricius founded the Teutschübenden Gesellschaft devoted to the study and improvement of the German language. He was also active in the Patriotische Gesellschaft, and edited the breakthrough moral publication Die Patriot with his fellow Hamburgers Michael Richey (1678-1761), professor of Greek at the Akademische Gymnasium and the poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747). The journal was an important forum for the beginning of the Enlightenment in which the religious life required involvement with the business and problems of society.  The success of the Patriot led to the rise in such journals (already extant in England as Addison & Steele’s Spectator). By the end of the 18th century there were nearly 500 such journals in Germany.  

  • Sources:

    H. S. Reimarus, De vita et scriptis Joannis Alberti Fabricii commentarius (1737); R.P. Niceron 60 (1739) 107-62; Biographie universelle 13 (1855) 299-34; J. Mähly, ÂDB 6 (1877) 518-21; Wilamowitz, 92-3; Heinrich Reincke, NDB 4 (1959) 732-3; M. Verner, “Johann Albert Fabricius. Eighteenth-Century Scholar and Bibliographer,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 60 (1966) 281-326; E. Petersen, Johann Albert Fabricius en humanist i Europa (diss. Copenhagen: 1998); R. Hafner, “Das Erklenntnisproblem in der Philologie um x 700. Zum Verhaltnis von Polymathie, Philologie und Aporetik bei Jacob Friedrich Reimmann, Christian Thomasius und Johann Albert Fabricius” in Philologie und Erkenntnis, ed. R. Hafner, (2001) 95-128; W. Raupp, “Fabricius, Johann Albert,” in Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlex. 25 (2005) 393-408; R. Hafner, “Die Vorlesungsskripte des Hamburger Gelehrten Johann Albert Fabricius,” in Die Pluralisierung des Paratextes in der Friihen Neuzeit, ed. F. von Ammon & H. Vogel  (2008) 283-99; id., Brill, 190-1.

  • Author: Ward Briggs