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Heinrich Klee

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German theologian and exegete, b. at Münstermaifeld, in the Rhine province, 20 April, 1800; d. at Munich, 28 July, 1840. At the age of seventeen he entered the seminary at Mainz, where he distinguished himself by his piety, his talent and that unremitting application to study which characterized him throughout his later life. In 1824, a year after his ordination, he was appointed to the professorship of exegesis and ecclesiastical history in the same seminary, and in the following year also to that of philosophy. In the meantime he obtained the Doctorate of Theology from the University of Würzburg after presenting the thesis "Tentamen theologico-historicum de chiliasmo primorum saecolurum". In 1829 the government of Baden tendered him the chair of exegesis at Freiburg, vacated by Hug, and at the same time the Prussian authorities offered him a professorship either at Breslau or Bonn. He chose Bonn; but his position there was a difficult one. Hermes and Hermesianism reigned supreme, and the presence of Klee, an exponent of sound Catholic principles, was viewed with unconcealed disfavour by his Rationalistic colleagues. His tact and genial manners, his attractive lectures and learned works, however, gradually won him influence. After ten years' stay at Bonn, during which he taught dogmatic and moral theology, the history of dogma and exegesis, Klee was induced by the conflict between the Archbishop von Droste-Vichering of Cologne and the Hermesian professors to accept the call to the University of Munich as successor to Mö in the chair of dogmatic theology and exegesis, but a premature death carried him off within a year. Klee's intense devotion to work enabled him to publish a number of works within a comparatively short period. "Die Beicht", a work which shows his close acquaintance with the Fathers appeared at Frankfort in 1827. Then followed in rapid succession; "Commentar ü das Evangelium nach Johannes" (Mainz 1829); Commentar ü den Romerbrief" (Mainz 1830); "Enclcylopä des Theologie" (Mainz 1832; "Auslegung des Briefes an de Hebrä" (Mainz 1883); "Die Ehe, dogmatisch-arch-ä Abhandlung" (Mainz 1833; 2nd Ed., 1835). His most important work is the "Katholische Dogmatik" in three volumes which went through four editions (Mainz 1834-5, 1840, 1844 and 1861), and next to it the "Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte" in two volumes (Mainz, 1837-8). A posthumous work, "Grundris der Ethik" was edited by Himioben (Mainz, 1843; 2nd ed. 1847). Although Klee was animated by a thoroughly Catholic spirit, and by his "Katholische Digmatik" helped to promote sounder Catholic ideas among the German clergy, then largely effected with Liberalism, some of his views as for instance on the origin of the human soul and on the fate of children who die without baptism, are open to criticism.

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