The Controversy Between Lessing and Goeze

Toshimasa Yasukata

in Lessing's Philosophy of Religion and the German Enlightenment

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780195144949
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834891 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series

 The Controversy Between Lessing and Goeze

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Analyzes the confrontation between Lessing and Goeze during “the second stage of the fragments controversy,” i.e., the stage when the target of criticism was no longer the author of the fragments but the editor who had ventured to make them public. The Lessing‐Goeze controversy began when Goeze, the Hauptpastor in Hamburg who was notorious as “the Inquisitor” and who looked on himself as the defender of Lutheran orthodoxy, launched a fierce attack on Lessing, the ducal librarian at Wolfenbüttel and the editor of Fragments from an Unnamed Author. Lessing's defense took the form of a series of polemical writings: A Parable; Axioms; the eleven‐installment Anti‐Goeze; and The Necessary Answer to a very Unnecessary Question. It is observed that what was of highest importance for Lessing was the “truth question,” whereas Goeze's sole concern was the preservation of established Lutheran orthodoxy. Lessing's intention to discuss the question of the truth of Christian revelation in open forum was marred by his opponent's recourse to the civil authorities.

Keywords: anti‐Goeze; fragments controversy; hauptpastor Goeze; Lessing‐Goeze controversy; Lutheran Orthodoxy; open forum; truth question

Chapter.  7788 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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