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Lessing's Philosophy of Religion and the German Enlightenment$
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Toshimasa Yasukata

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195144949

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195144945.001.0001

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The Controversy Between Lessing and Goeze

The Controversy Between Lessing and Goeze

(p.41) 3 The Controversy Between Lessing and Goeze
Lessing's Philosophy of Religion and the German Enlightenment

Toshimasa Yasukata

Oxford University Press

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

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