Cobet, Justus

Cobet, Justus

Cobet, Justus

Cobet, Justus

Cobet, Justus

Cobet, Justus

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Justus Fetscher

Abstract

The paper presents a series of German-Jewish readings of Lessing's "Nathan the Wise" (1779) stretching from the Enlightenment to the early post-1945 period. Already the first Jewish reader, Moses Mendelssohn, did not focus his interpretation of this drama on the so-called "parabel of the rings," where Nathan is commonly said to preach religious tolerance. Rather, Mendelssohn concentrates on act IV, scene 7, which expounds Lessing's concept of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity and Nathan's experience of Christian persecution. With the upsurge of German anti-Semitism in the late 19th and 20th century, this scene served first as a sign of German-Christian empathy for Jewish suffering, and thus of hope, then as a reminder of recent prosecutions. It seemed to foreshadow, and eventually became overshadowed by, the Shoah.