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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter summarizes key aspects of neology, the main expression of the German Protestant theological Enlightenment in the second half of the eighteenth century. Neology construed Christianity as a practical, ethically oriented religion, consonant with modern knowledge and grounded in the self-reflective experience of the pious, reasonable subject. Steering a course between Protestant Orthodoxy, Pietism, and freethinking, proponents deployed history as a useful tool for their apologetic and reconstructive efforts. Historical scholarship offered a means of rethinking the nature and authority of scripture, of distancing the claims of the dogmatic tradition, and of recasting theology as a progressive academic enterprise. In historicizing scripture and creeds, neology shifted focus from dogma to the religious experience of the believing subject. While many of its concepts were developed in a more secular direction in later German intellectual history, neology’s central concerns were taken up by the liberal Protestant tradition of the following century.

Keywords: Apologetics, Bible scholarship, historical scholarship, religious experience, theological Enlightenment

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