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“Der heilige Zeitgeist” –

Developments in Protestant theology during the Weimar Republic

Munich, 05/23/2011

Few epochs in the history of modern German Protestantism have been scrutinized as intensely as the 14 years for which the Weimar Republic lasted. Scholarly monographs on the most influential academic theologians of the time now fill whole libraries. Nevertheless, international interest in leading participants in the theological discourse during the Weimar years, such as Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, Emil Brunner and Paul Tillich, continues unabated. “Yet the current state of research on the history of academic theology during the tense period between the end of the First World War and the National Socialist Revolution can only be regarded as unsatisfactory,” writes LMU theologian Friedrich Wilhelm Graf in “Der heilige Zeitgeist”, his new book on the intellectual history of Protestant theology in the Weimar period. For university-based theologians and their subject, the 1920s were a time of intellectual turmoil, marked by an avantgarde spirit of radical reimaginings and new departures, vehement inter-generational conflicts, bitter disputes over central concepts in theology and great political battles. The intellectual revolutions that emerged from this ferment were to leave their mark on histories of academic theology up until the late 1970s at least – and not just in the German-speaking world. In “Der heilige Zeitgeist”, Graf presents a compendium of studies dealing with the intellectual history of Protestant theology in the 1920s. The collection includes essays he has published since 1974, as well as work that has not appeared elsewhere. The book illuminates the significance of “shared history” in the field, i.e. the close cooperation with Jewish and Catholic scholars, but it also investigates some of the often quite aggressively conducted inter-generational disputes. Here Otto Baumgarten, Ernst Troeltsch, Reinhold Seeberg and Martin Rade represent the “Wilhelminian generation”, and Friedrich Gogarten, Otto Piper, Paul Tillich and Karl Barth the “Front generation”, while Hans Joachim Iwand epitomizes the “superfluous generation” born around 1900. (suwe/PH)


“Der heilige Zeitgeist. Studien zur Ideengeschichte der protestantischen Theologie in der Weimarer Republik”
Friedrich Wilhelm Graf,
Mohr Siebeck Verlag, pp 527
Published in April 2011
ISBN: 978-3161504303


Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Graf
Faculty of Protestant Theology, LMU Munich
Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 – 3573

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