The Master-Interpreter: Notes on the German Career of Joachim Wach (1922–1935)

Steven M. Wasserstrom

in Hermeneutics, Politics, and the History of Religions

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394337
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199777358 | DOI:
The Master-Interpreter: Notes on the German Career of Joachim Wach (1922–1935)

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This article examines the life and works of Joachim Wach (1898–1955) during his career in Germany (1922–35). Aspects examined include his homosocial participation in youth movements (Jugendbewegung) and in the Stefan George Circle, the development of his conceptions of the Master, interpretation (Verstehen), and the science of religion (Religionswissenschaft), and his personal relationships with members of the so-called Conservative Revolution. These aspects are examined in an effort to illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of his thought in its American versions, especially during his time at the University of Chicago (1945–55). His flight from Nazi Germany, his self-understanding of his own Jewish ancestry and of his Mendelssohn heritage, and his establishment of an Americanized history of religions are also applied toward an integrated interpretation of his life and works.

Keywords: Joachim Wach; Stefan George; Joseph Kitagawa; Kurt Rudolph; Germany; Jugendbewegung; Verstehen; Religionswissenschaft; Moses Mendelssohn; homosociality; youth movements; van der Leeuw; masculinist philosophy; history of religions

Chapter.  14412 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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