Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768)

Classicist, Hebraist, Enlightenment Radical in Disguise


Over the course of thirty years, Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) secretly drafted what would become the most thorough attack on revelation to date, ushering the quest for the historical Jesus and foreshadowing the religious criticism of the new atheism of the twentieth century. Peeling away the layers of Reimarus’s radical work by looking at hitherto unpublished manuscript evidence, Ulrich Groetsch shows that the Radical Enlightenment was more than just an international philosophical movement. By demonstrating the importance philology, antiquarianism, and Semitic languages played in Reimarus’s upbringing, scholarship, and teaching, this new study provides a vivid portrayal of an Enlightenment radical at the cusp of the secular age, whose debt to earlier traditions of scholarship remains undisputed.
Restricted Access


EUR €149.00USD $217.00

Biographical Note

Ulrich Groetsch, Ph.D. (2008), Rutgers University, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Alabama.

Review Quotes

“engrossing … Anyone interested in the German Enlightenment should read this fine book”.
Joachim Whaley, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2017), pp. 230-232.

Table of contents


List of Illustrations

Note to the Reader and List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1
From Protégé to Peer: Reimarus at the Hamburg School of Polyhistors

Chapter 2
Among Pagans and Hebrews: Teaching Jewish Antiquities in Eighteenth-Century Hamburg
Chapter 3
Jean Le Clerc’s Faithful Pupil: Reimarus Encounters the Profane

Chapter 4
Reimarus, the Cardinal, and the Remaking of Cassius Dio’s Roman History

Chapter 5
How Reimarus Read His Bible

Chapter 6
The Miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea: What Lessing and His Opponents during the Fragmentenstreit Did Not See

Primary Sources
Secondary Sources



All interested in early modern cultural history, the Enlightenment, the history of biblical and religious criticism, classical scholarship, and the history of erudition and scholarly practices.