German-Jews in the 19th Century

For my Introduction to the Study of Religion course, I am reading two chapters on a book about German-Jewish identity in the 19th century. Moses Mendelssohn, who was was of the first who seems to have established a German-Jewish identity, was often critiqued for maintaining being two people, a dual identity that was seemingly contradictory. Mendes-Flohr continues, though, with a critique of German “identity” in the 18th century: “German society of his day was too uncertain of its collective identity to entertain a pluralistic conception of its social and political fabric” (Mendes-Flohr, 1999: 14).

While he is specifically considering the issue of German-Jewish identity, I wonder how this sort of environment within Germany may have simultaneously impacted biblical scholarship. How did the lack of certainty in understanding collective identity impact conceptions of ancient Israel or the Philistines? How did it impact biblical criticism?

I have no answer. I just wonder.

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2 thoughts on “German-Jews in the 19th Century

  1. Part of the issue here is the fact that there was no Germany in the 1700s. Germany did not exist as a national entity until 1870. It’s difficult to embrace a national pan German identity when no such nation existed.

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