Journal Article

Religion and the Enlightenment: A Review Essay

Ritchie Robertson

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 422-432
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
Religion and the Enlightenment: A Review Essay

Show Summary Details


Recent studies of the Enlightenment suggest that its relation to religion is far more complex than a simple process of increasing secularization. The book by Sheehan shows, by examining translations of the Bible into English and German in the Enlightenment, how religion was reshaped, leading eventually to the dogma-free Christianity proposed by Matthew Arnold. Israel's book argues that alongside the relatively cautious mainstream Enlightenment there was always a radical Enlightenment, heavily indebted to Spinoza, that was rationalist, atheist, and libertarian, and anticipated the dominant liberal values of the present day. Neither of these important studies, however, considers two areas that remain under-researched: the popular Enlightenment (‘Volksaufklärung’), that is to say, the diffusion of Enlightenment thought among uneducated people; and the Catholic Enlightenment which flourished particularly in Italy, Austria, and south Germany.

Keywords: Enlightenment; radical Enlightenment; Catholic Enlightenment; secularization; Spinoza; translations of the Bible; Religion; Jonathan Sheehan; Jonathan Israel

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.