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Abstract

Histories of Heresy in the German Enlightenment
This paper focuses on histories of early Christian heresy, written by German Protestant authors in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century. In particular, it examines the differences between orthodox Lutheran accounts and those put forward by their opponents of certain historical events, such as the death of the heretic Arius or the accession of Constantine the Great. These differences are related to the authors' respective views on ecclesiastical politics in the German principalities around 1700. The death of Arius, for example, had been treated as an example of divine punishment for his heresy in several orthodox Protestant accounts, while the Halle jurist and philosopher Christian Thomasius argued in an essay that the orthodox account was prejudiced and an unjustified attempt to discredit Arius and his beliefs. The paper uses this and other, similar historical debates to analyse the relationship between the historical description of heresies and the authors' views in the controversies over ecclesiology and theology in early Enlightenment Germany.

Biographical Sketch

Thomas Ahnert holds a BA and a PhD in History from St. John's College in Cambridge, and is now a Leverhulme post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh in , where his current research is on the development of a "Science of Man" in the Scottish Enlightenment. He has also worked on the German Enlightenment and a monograph on the philosopher and jurist Christian Thomasius is in preparation. His publications include a number of articles and reviews on German and British intellectual history in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

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