Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A professor of theology at the University of Tübingen, born 16 Oct., 1777, at Killingen, in the parish of Röhlingen, in the then ecclesiastical principality of Ellwangen ; died 19 Feb., 1853. The parish priest of Röhlingen, an ex- Jesuit, noting the boy's talents, instructed him in the elements of Latin, and persuaded his parents to send him, in 1787, in spite of their extreme poverty, to the gymnasium of Ellwangen. There he lived partly on the charity of the townspeople and partly by tutoring, especially in Latin, mathematics, and physics. He studied theology, 1797-1799, at Augsburg ; after 1799 he lived in the diocesan seminary at Pfaffenhausen and was ordained in the summer of 1801. During his five years as assistant in his native place, Drey studied the then paramount philosophy of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, and the philosophical erudition which he acquired in this study appears clearly in his scientific works. His position, from 1806, as professor of philosophy of religion, mathematics, and physics in the Catholic academy of Rottweil, formed a good preparation for his subsequent academical career. When in 1812 King Frederick I of Würtemberg founded the University of Ellwangen as a Catholic national university for his recently acquired Catholic territory, Drey was called to lecture there on dogmatics, history of dogma, apologetics, and introduction to theology. There he published two Latin dissertations: "Observata quædam ad illustrandam Justini M. de regno millenario sententiam" (1814), and "Dissertatio historico-theologica originem et vicissitudinem exomologeseos in ecclesiâ. catholicâ ex documentis ecclesiasticis illustrans" (1815), the latter of which was denounced to Rome, but without serious consequences for its author, at least for the time being.

When King William I (1817) incorporated the University of Ellwangen with the old national University of Tübingen as its Catholic faculty of theology, Drey with his colleagues, Gratz and Herbst, joined the staff of the new school and founded (1819), together with them and his new colleague, Hirscher, the "Theologische Quartalschrift" of Tübingen, still flourishing; he took a prominent part in its publication and wrote for it a number of essays and reviews. In the same year he published: "Kurze Einleitung in das Studium der Theologie mit Rücksicht auf den wissenschaftlichen Standpunkt und das katholische System". An effort to make Drey first bishop of the newly founded Diocese of Rottenburg failed, among other reasons because of the distrust with which he was regarded in Rome owing to his above-named work on confession. Somewhat as a recompense the first position at the cathedral was reserved for him, which however, he never filled. In 1832 appeared his "Neue Untersuchungen über die Konstitutionen und Kanones der Apostel", a work of such thoroughness that only recent investigations, especially those of von Funk , have gone beyond it. After convalescing from a severe illness, be was relieved from his office as teacher of dogmatic theology (1838). Just then his principal work, in three volumes, appeared: "Die Apologetik als wissenschaftliche Nachweisung der Göttlichkeit des Christentums in seiner Erscheinung" (1838-1847). Still comparatively robust, though well advanced in years, Drey was pensioned in 1846, almost against his will; he continued, however, to write for Wetzer and Welte's "Kirchenlexikon" and for the "Theologische Quartalschrift" of Tübingen. With Möhler, Drey was the founder of the so-called Catholic School of Tübingen. Like Möhler, Hefele, and von Funk, he was a truly critical historian. But Drey also gave to the systematic theology of this school its peculiar stamp, equi-distinct from Traditionalism and Rationalism, recognizing on the one hand the objective facts in the history of Revelation and the tradition from generation to generation, maintaining on the other the rights of our natural reason and of philosophical speculation, with all due loyalty to dogma. Kuhn and Schanz faithfully followed in the path marked out by Drey.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 1:1--2:2
1 In the beginning God created heaven and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
5 My birthright, my cup is Yahweh; you, you alone, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 28:1-10
1 After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first ... Read More

Reading 2, Genesis 22:1-18
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2014 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter