Enlightenment Theology must be considered the significant link in between Old and New Protestantism. Additionally, being intrinsically linked to major issues of cultural science, Enlightenment Theology was of great influence on intellectual history. In marked contrast to its importance, it must be stated that interdisciplinary research on Enlightenment Theology has been hindered by the fact that primary sources are accessible in sometimes highly divergent editions, which, moreover, are accessible in few libraries and in some cases only as digital copies. For these reasons a critical display of the different editions, combined with proper historical comments, is most necessary in order to permit contemporary academic discourse’s interaction with these key texts.
The entirety of Enlightenment Theology, whose thematic extent complicates the perception of its inner coherence, has to be seen as a multinational western European phenomenon covering a broad topical and chronological spectrum, ranging from the first Physiko-theologies of the late 17th century to the late rationalism of the 1830s. The term Neologie (Neology) contrastingly describes a certain period of Enlightenment Theology emerging especially in Germany that, with regard to its chronological, thematic, geographical and personnel outlines, can be esteemed the clearly contoured centre of this epoch. The most important identity markers of Neology are the detachment from orthodox doctrine, including its metaphysical and cosmological background, from the pietism’s scheme of conversion and sanctification, and from the methodical purism of the Wolffianer. Further aspects are the demand of the constitutive complementarity of Verstand and Gefühl, the appreciation and promotion of religious subjectivity, awareness and responsibility, and the distinction between religion and theology or rather the difference between actual Christian practice of piety on the one hand and a skilled and reflected perception of the concerned profession (cf. A. Beutel, Kirchengeschichte im Zeitalter der Aufklärung. Ein Kompendium, Göttingen 22009, 112–150).
Although Neology first and foremost remained within the German context, it was, however, not limited to ecclesiastical or academic circles, but sustainably merged into almost every cultural sector. Therefore, impacts and impulses of Neology can be found in contemporary literature as well as in politics, philosophy, art, and even architecture. In this respect Neology claims relevance on a pan-European level since its constitutive pool of ideas originated within western European moral philosophy as well as from the philosophy of religion; after the abatement of its mature period it generated a broad and various reception throughout Europe. Against this background a critical edition, which the Bibliothek der Neologie plans as its objective, will contribute to making a major element of early modern modernisation available for further, not least interdisciplinary, research.
While the Kritische Spalding-Ausgabe (Critical Spalding Edition; Vol. 1-13, Tübingen 2001–2013) has made the complete works of a leading representative of Neology accessible to academics on a research level, the Bibliothek der Neologie, in a selective way, plans to provide ten key neological texts or text collections by means of a critical hybrid edition (digital edition + monograph) which will fulfil research as well as teaching purposes. The selection criteria are the representative significance of the author, the interdisciplinary relevance, and covering a great breadth of material to give an impression of the variety of genres as well as of particular problems of the Enlightenment, and the reflecting on the impact of the work regarding intellectual and cultural history.
Being a long-term project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) the Bibliothek der Neologie is situated at the Seminar für Kirchengeschichte II at the Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. The digital implementation is supported and conducted by the department Forschung und Entwicklung at the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SUB) Göttingen.
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In digital respects, the Bibliothek der Neologie will provide metadata (e.g. the integration of norm databases; bibliographical referencing) in order to ensure a maximum of functionality regarding text presentation and analysis. Thereby, the Bibliothek der Neologie will make its contribution to the so-called “Semantic Web”.
The print version will further advance the proven concept of the Kritische Spalding-Ausgabe: Apart from the text each volume will supply a scholarly introduction, a historical commentary, and will conclude with extensive indices, as mandated for any scholarly edition. The printed edition will be published by Mohr Siebeck (Tübingen). The serial numbers arise from the alphabetical order of the authors and do not necessarily match the order of publication.
Further information about the authors and their works can be found on our works page.
Suggested abbreviation: BdN