Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism

German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews, from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann


As Adolf Hitler strategised his way to power, he knew that it was necessary to gain the support of theology and the Church. This study begins two hundred years earlier, however, looking at roots of theological anti-Semitism and how Jews and Judaism were constructed, positively and negatively, in the biblical interpretation of German Protestant theology. Following the two main streams of German theology, the salvation-historical and the Enlightenment-oriented traditions, it examines leading exegetes from the 1750s to the 1950s and explores how theology legitimises or delegitimises oppression of Jews, in part through still-prevailing paradigms. This is the first comprehensive analysis of its kind, and the result of the analysis of the interplay between biblical exegesis and attitudes to Jews and Judaism is a fascinating and often frightening portrait of theology as a servant of power. This book is also available in paperback.
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Biographical Note

Anders Gerdmar, Th. D. (2001) ) and Associate Professor in New Testament Exegesis, Uppsala University is researcher and author. His published works includes Rethinking the Judaism-Hellenism Dichotomy (Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001) and the methodological textbook Paths to the New Testament.

Table of contents

CONTENTS Introduction: Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism PART I: ENLIGHTENMENT EXEGESIS AND THE JEWS Introduction The Jews in Enlightenment Exegesis From Deism to de Wette Johann Salomo Semler: Dejudaising Christianity Johann Gottfried Herder: The Volk Concept and the Jews F. D. E. Schleiermacher: Enlightenment Religion and Judaism W. M. L. de Wette: Judaism as Degenerated Hebraism The Jews in Enlightenment Exegesis from Baur to Ritschl Ferdinand Christian Baur: Judaism as an Historical Antipode of Christianity David Friedrich Strauss: Judaism in Continuity and Discontinuity with Christianity Albrecht Ritschl: Kulturprotestantismus and the Jews The History of Religions School and the Jews—An Historical Turn? PART II: SALVATION-HISTORICAL EXEGESIS AND THE JEWS: FROM THOLUCK TO SCHLATTER Introduction Philo-Semitism Friedrich August Tholuck: “Salvation Comes from the Jews” Johann Tobias Beck: Organic Continuity Between Judaism and Christianity Franz Delitzsch: Pioneering Scholarship in Judaism Hermann Leberecht Strack: Missions to and Defence of Jews Adolf Schlatter and Judaism: Great Erudition and Fierce Opposition PART III: THE FORM CRITICS AND THE JEWS Introduction Karl Ludwig Schmidt: A Chosen People and a ‘Jewish Problem’ Martin Dibelius: Ambivalence to Jews and Judaism Rudolf Bultmann: Liberal and Anti-Jewish PART IV: NAZI EXEGESIS AND THE JEWS Introduction Gerhard Kittel: Jewish Unheil Theologically Founded Walter Grundmann: Towards a Non-Jewish Jesus Concluding Analysis


All those interested in anti-Semitism in general and the relation between theology, especially biblical interpretation and anti-Semitism in particular, as well as German intellectual history of Modernity, and the relationship between the scholarly society and Nazism.