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Franz Georg Benkert

German theologian and historical writer (1790-1859)

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Benkert, FRANZ GEORG, a German theologian and historical writer, b. September 25, 1790, at Nordheim, near the mountain district of Rhon, Germany; d. May 20, 1859, at Coburg. After finishing his studies at the gymnasium in Munnerstadt he studied theology at Wurzburg and was ordained priest in 1816. He was first a curate at Gaurettersheim and, in 1821, was made vice-principal of the theological seminary at Wurzburg. While holding these positions Benkert continued his studies. In 1823 he received a doctorate, having offered the dissertation: “De Duplici Misses Catechumenorum et Fidelium”. From 1823 to 1838 he had the position of principal, and in 1838 he was made a cathedral canon and cathedral dean.

At that time, in common with the ecclesiastics of other dioceses, the clergy of the Diocese of Wurzburg suffered greatly from the religious disease of the age, “Josephinism”, and were inclined to a sickly and enervating rationalism. The destructive effects of these rationalistic tendencies showed themselves everywhere in the life of the Church. Even when acting as vice-principal Benkert showed himself deserving of much praise in that he sought to reawaken in the younger clergy the spirit of the Church and to cultivate in them an interest in, and a knowledge of, the old theological schools. In 1822 he founded the periodical: “Der Religionsfreund fur Katholiken mit Beitragen religios gesinnter Manner”. He issued the periodical in the desire to increase the influence of his efforts and also to win over the older ecclesiastics.

The periodical appeared in six volumes, 1822-26. It attracted much attention and was copied in France in the “Ami de la Religion“. In connection with G. J. Saffenrevter he issued, 1828-40, a continuation of this, his first, periodical, entitled: “Allgemeiner Religions- and Kirchenfreund and Kirchenkorrespondent, eine theologische and kirchenhistorische Zeitschrift”. At the same time he published, 1828-34, a periodical entitled: “Athanasia, eine theologische Zeitschrift, besonders fur die gesamte Pastoral, fur Kirchengeschichte, auch fur Padagogik”. This appeared in sixteen volumes. He continued the same publication from 1835 to 1840 in connection with J. M. Dux. As Benkert was more apt to be swayed by his zeal for the right than by prudence, he made many enemies, especially among the older clergy. He therefore severed his connection with his periodicals in 1840, and devoted himself to the study of the history of his native district. His historical writings have only a local interest. A larger and more important work which he undertook on the Rhon was never completed.


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