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The Transformation of Apologetical Literature in the Early Enlightenment

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The Case of Grotius’s De veritate

image of Grotiana

Context and argumentative style of Grotius’s De veritate are that of Reformation controversialist theology and of humanist historical notions of truth. Controversialism, however, no longer operated from shared principles, and the textual criticism of humanist scholarship implied looking at the book of revelation as an historical document, in a double sense: a product of history, and (one among other) historical narratives. To what intellectual juggling this leads Grotius, is evident in his considering the historical proofs of the resurrection of Christ, the role therein of witnesses and of pagan historical support. Justifying Christ’s resurrection with pagan theories of metempsychosis, however, was another step towards a rational justification of Christianity. His defence of a minimalist doctrinal content was not yet deist or neological, as his reliance on miracles and resurrection demonstrate. One thus might locate this text at the ‘false dawn’ of the Enlightenment, as a comparison with Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s homonymous book, abstract and general enough to become a really Deist manifesto, finally shows.

Affiliations: 1: Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit, University of Potsdam, glottes@web.de

10.1163/18760759-03501007
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/content/journals/10.1163/18760759-03501007
2014-12-06
2018-07-21

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