Universität Erfurt

Projekt von Dr. Zachary Purvis

Reinventing the Reformation for the Modern World. Politics, Theology, and the Production of Knowledge in Germany

This project examines the reinvention of the Reformation in 19th-century Germany through the production of Corpus Reformatorum, a state-sponsored, critical edition of Reformation texts that was leveraged explicitly for political gain. The series was a unique collaboration between state ministers and university theologians and reflected novel ideas of ‘science’ (Wissenschaft) imbued with the ethos of mechanization and the incipient industrial revolution. I use the series as a way to examine the intrigues of the Prussian state in crafting a national vision of Protestantism in mid-century, revolutionary Europe. The series became an instrument for political, cultural, and religious modernization and helped inaugurate a new ‘post-dogmatic’ age in the history of modern theology after centuries of confessional polemics. As the Reformation approaches its quincentennial in 2017, this project will provide a new lens for understanding the Reformation’s complex legacy, the forces of religious nationalism, and undue claims of secularization, clarifying the quandaries of Protestantism in the modern world.

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