Hegel was born in Stuttgart in 1770, when the Age of Reason and Enlightenment was closing and the day of the Romantics was at hand. Both these contemporary influences affected his thinking, and he derived another, no less powerful, from his early education at the Stuttgart Gymnasium. This was the influence of Greek and Roman ideas.
The realms of learning which attracted him most during his school years were religion and history, and especially the history of religion. A paper On the Religion of the Greeks and Romans by the seventeen-year-old Hegel shows that his philosophical genius was already alive. “The wise men of Greece,” he wrote in this essay, “thought that the deity had endowed every man with means and energies sufficient for his happiness and that it had modeled the nature of things in such a way as to make it possible for true happiness to be obtained by wisdom and human goodness.” Other papers are even more philosophical. One has the title “On the Judgment of Common Sense about Objectivity and Subjectivity of Ideas.”
This volume includes Hegel’s most important early theological writings, though not all of the materials collected by Herman Nohl in his definitive Hegels theologische Jugendschriften (Tuebingen, 1907). The most significant omissions are a series of fragments to which Nohl give the general title “National Religion and Christianity” and the essay “Life of Jesus.”