Postgraduate Course: Readings in Western Theology from the French Revolution to the First World War (THET11067)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course explores leading intellectuals and historical events in the making of 'modern theology' (a broad group of Western schools of thought reimagining theology in response to the challenges of the Enlightenment) in the long nineteenth century - a period bookended by the Enlightenment and the First World War.
Beginning with Immanuel Kant, and working forwards to the likes of Sigmund Freud and Max Weber, this course explores leading intellectuals and historical events in the making of 'modern theology' in the long nineteenth century in the Western world. We examine primary texts in their specific historical contexts with an emphasis on close reading and engaged discussion in order to understand the powerful religious transformations of modernity, theories of secularisation, and new forms of renewal alongside specific theological issues in historical perspective. Alongside the detailed study of primary texts, the class provides experience in studying the more recent reception and interpretation of the figures studied.
The course begins by considering the nature of theological inquiry at the threshold of the nineteenth century. After discussing the Enlightenment and French Revolution, it considers the role of Romanticism and Idealism in shaping theological reflection in figures such as Friedrich Schleiermacher and G.W.F. Hegel. Attention is given to various prominent critiques of the Bible and religion offered by key thinkers in the period, for instance, D.F. Strauss, Søren Kierkegaard, Herman Bavinck, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and the major attempts to construct theological programmes in response. Questions of secularisation and important instances of theological renewal and religious revival are considered together. The course concludes by examining the cate of the notable syntheses characteristic of the nineteenth century, the relation of theology to modern Western culture, and the rise of new theological and religious movements in the face of the First World War.
Student Learning Experience:
The course will be delivered through two 50-minute classes each week. The first of these will be a lecture, and the second, a seminar in which that week's set readings will be discussed. Through primary source reading, students will become skilled interpreters of the development of late modern Western culture, and the changing place (and shape) of theology therein. Students should be prepared for a weekly reading schedule - and should expect that commitment to be intellectually rewarding.
Each student will choose a topic for a research essay (3000 words), with the support of the course organiser. As a key element in the essay-writing process, students will participate in a feedback/feedforward session with the course organiser: this session will take place prior to essay submission, and will involve students giving a presentation on their proposed essay topic.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Prior study in systematic theology, philosophical theology, or modern religious history would equip a visiting student well for this course.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of key thinkers and themes in theology during the nineteenth century.
- Demonstrate the ability to read theological texts critically, and with comprehension.
- Demonstrate the ability to critically analyse later interpretations of key primary sources.
- Demonstrate critical understanding of the various approaches to relating cultural, political, social, scientific, and other forces with theology inquiry throughout the modern period.
- Demonstrate an ability to identify and analyse critical concepts in modern theology.
'Introduction', in George Pattison, Nicholas Adams, Graham Ward, The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought, pp. 1-17.
Kant, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, pp. vii-xxxii
Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers.
David Friedrich Strauss, The Old Faith and the New: A Confession.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations. The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols.
Herman Bavinck, Philosophy of Revelation.
Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or.
Adolf von Harnack, What is Christianity?
Ernst Troeltsch, Protestantism and Progress.
James Robinson, The beginnings of dialectic theology.
Karl Barth, The humanity of God.
Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents.
Max Weber, From Max Weber: essays in sociology.
Oswald Bayer, The Modern Narcissus.
Ruth Harris, Lourdes: body and spirit in the secular age.
Susannah Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus.
Pamela Walker, Pulling the devil's kingdom down: The Salvation Army in Victorian Britain.
Joel Rasmussen, Judith Wolfe, Johannes Zachhuber (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought.
Marilyn Chaplin Massey, Christ unmasked: the meaning of the Life of Jesus in German Politics.
Jennifer Powell McNutt, Calvin Meets Voltaire.
David Fergusson, The Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth-Century Theology.
Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers: Religion and Politics in Europe from the Enlightenment to the Great War.
Owen Chadwick, The secularization of the European mind in the nineteenth century.
Timothy E Fulop, Albert J Raboteau, African-American Religion: Interpretive Essays in History and Culture.
Thomas Howard, God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the religious divide.
Hugh McLeod, Secularisation in Western Europe, 1848-1914.
Mark Noll, America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln.
Helmunt Walser Smith, The Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town.
Deborah Sadie Hertz, Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
Alexander Roper Vidler, The Church in an age of Revolution: 1789 to the Present Day.
Jacqueline Mariña, The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher.
Karl Barth, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century: Its Background and History.
James Eglinton, Bavinck: A Critical Biography.
Herman Bavinck, Christian Worldview.
James Eglinton and George Harinck (eds.), Neo-Calvinism and the French Revolution.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.
G.W.F Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion.
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology.
Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling.
John Henry Newman, Fifteen sermons preached before the University of Oxford, between A.D. 1826 and 1843.
David Friedrich Strauss, The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined, 3 vols.
Nicholas Adams, George Pattison, Graham Ward (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Theology and Modern European Thought.
Zachary Purvis, Theology and the University in Nineteenth Century Germany.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
- Sensitivity towards changing historical and cultural contexts
- Oral and written communication skills
- Ability to provide concise statements on complex texts
- Analytical ability in formulating questions and answers
|Course organiser||Dr James Eglinton
Tel: (0131 6)50 8975
|Course secretary||Miss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227