This chapter begins with a brief description of the challenges theology faced as an academic discipline throughout Europe in the early nineteenth century. It introduces the specific historical problems occasioning the genre of theological encyclopedia and relates the genre to debates over theology’s status as science (‘scientia’) or Wissenschaft. It is argued that the project of theological encyclopedia, especially as developed by Friedrich Schleiermacher, functioned as the place where theological reflection and the requirements of the institutional setting in which that reflection occurred—here the German university—converged. The dual transformation of institutions and ideas not only held together theology’s increasingly diverse parts, but also laid the groundwork for theology’s historicization. Subsequent sections discuss how this analysis of the emergence of theology as science contributes to our understanding of modern Christian theology, the history and fate of higher education and its institutions, and the rise of modern Germany.
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