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 Peeling away the layers of Reimarus’s radical work by looking at hitherto unpublished manuscript evidence, Ulrich Groetsch shows that the Radical Enlightenment was more than just an international philosophical movement.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.
The message of the old testamentary Maccabees is martial and pernicious as well as already pointed out by Erasmus of Rotterdam. The circumstances in which the Maccabeean literature emerged are complex and have not yet been explored by scholars in all their details; even more complex is the history of its influence, the Wirkungsgeschichte in the sense Hans-Georg Gadamer has given to the term, a history which was to large extent a purely Christian one. The early Christians saw the Maccabees as prototypical martyrs. Later they discovered warrior heroes whose courage was the measure of whoever fought in the name of God or freedom: Saxons, Scots, or citizens of Cologne who rose up against their rulers. This history of influence is the focus of the essays collected in this book, which extend thematically and chronologically from the cult of martyrs in late antiquity to the time of the modern wars of liberation.