Between Philology and Radical Enlightenment

Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768)


Editor: Martin Mulsow
Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) was the most significant biblical critic in eighteenth-century Germany, as well as an eminent Enlightenment philosopher, a renowned classicist and expert on Judaism. How do the different strands of his scholarship fit together? Is there a direct way from critical philology to Radical Enlightenment? This volume portrays the 'whole' Reimarus and shows how exegetical expertise, philosophical reflection, and antiquarian interests came together in the formation of an extraordinarily deep ranging critique of the Bible, fragments of which were published by Lessing in the famous 'Fragmentenstreit' of 1774-78. The seven contributions all rely on new manuscript evidence and partly provide editions of hitherto unpublished texts.
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Biographical Note

Martin Mulsow, Ph.D. (1991) in Philosophy, University of Munich, is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Erfurt and Director of the Gotha Research Center for Early Modern Studies. He has published with Brill The Berlin Refuge 1680-1780 (2003, ed. with S. Pott and L. Danneberg), Secret Conversions to Judaism in Early Modern Europe (2004, ed. with Richard H. Popkin) and Socinianism and Arminianism (2005, ed. with Jan Rohls).

Review Quotes

"[...] Eine sehr erfreuliche Neuerscheinung, die dazu angetan ist, die Forschung zu Reimarus zu verstärken, der für das Verständnis der Aufklärung in Deutschland eine Schlüsselfigur ist." Till Kinzel, IFB

Table of contents


From Antiquarianism to Bible Criticism? Young Reimarus visits the Netherlands, Martin Mulsow

Edifying versus Rational Hermeneutics: Hermann Samuel Reimarus’ Revision of Johann Adolf Hoffmann’s Neue Erklärung des Buchs Hiob , Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann

The Public Discourse of Hermann Samuel Reimarus and Johann Lorenz Schmidt in the Hamburgische Berichte von Gelehrten Sachen in 1736, Ursula Goldenbaum

Reimarus, the Cardinal, and the Remaking of Cassius Dio’ Roman History, Ulrich Groetsch

Reimarus, the Hamburg Jews, and the Messiah, Dietrich Klein

The Philosophical Context of Hermann Samuel Reimarus’ Radical Bible Criticism, Jonathan Israel

Living in the Enlightenment: The Reimarus Household Accounts of 1728-1780, Almut and Paul Spalding

Index of Names


All those interested in intellectual history, Bible criticism, the history of Enlightenment philosophy and theology, as well as classical philologists.


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