By Thomas Albert Howard

This publication deals an interpretation of the increase of secular ancient notion in nineteenth-century Europe. rather than characterizing 'historicism' and 'secularization' as basic breaks with Europe's non secular background, they're offered as complicated cultural variations with a lot continuity; for inherited theological styles of reading adventure made up our minds to a wide measure the stipulations, percentages and obstacles of the varieties of historic mind's eye realizable through nineteenth-century secular intellectuals. This aspect is made through analyzing the idea of the German theologian W. M. L. de Wette and that of the Swiss-German historian Jacob Burckhardt. Burckhardt's assembly with de Wette and his next selection to review historical past over theology are interpreted as revealing moments in nineteenth-century highbrow historical past. through interpreting their come across, its higher historic context, and the concept of either males, the booklet demonstrates the centrality of theological issues and varieties of wisdom within the emergence of recent, secular old cognizance.

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Extra resources for Religion and the rise of historicism : W.M.L. de Wette, Jacob Burckhardt, and the theological origins of nineteenth-century historical consciousness

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His earliest works are both theological essays: Eine Idee uber das Studium der Theologie (1801) and Aufforderung zum Studium der hebrdischen Sprache und Literatur (1805). His first original work of biblical criticism was his dissertation (1805), which was soon followed by his Beitrdge (1806/07). 100 Although trained disciplinarily as an Old Testament critic, de Wette brought to the field a unique philosophical conception of myth, derived largely from Schelling. In applying this notion of myth to the Bible, de Wette overhauled the exegetical possibilities of the myth category and laid the groundwork for its application as a comprehensive hermeneutical option for making sense of the strange cohesion between the Bible's patently historical characteristics and its radically suprahistorical truth-claims.

Second, Semler distinguished between two types of biblical understanding: the sensus liter'alts and the realia. The sensus literalis, which previous Protestant theologians held to be the true sense of scripture, could be reached, in Semler's view, only by a rigorous historical-critical methodology. 92 In making these distinctions, Semler felt he was carrying forward the work of the Reformation after an unfortunate interlude of rigid orthodoxy and exegetical stagnation. "93 The deistic distinction between reason and revelation and the neologians' endeavors in historical-critical scholarship bequeathed to scholars of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century wholly new criteria in epistemology and hermeneutics.

16 In what follows, I shall not work through the many complexities and tensions in de Wette's thought from an "internal" theological or biblicalcritical point of view. Rather, by calling attention to de Wette's cultural heritage, intellectual predecessors, institutional settings, and biography, I shall place his thought in a wider historical context. 17 Weimar, Herder, and the Young De Wette18 De Wette was born on 12 January 1780 in Ulla, a small village between Weimar and Erfurt. His Dutch ancestors had embraced Protestantism early in the Reformation and had fled to Saxony in 1523 to escape persecution.

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