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Theology and the University in Nineteenth-Century Germany$
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Zachary Purvis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783381.001.0001

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(p.217) 10 Conclusion
Theology and the University in Nineteenth-Century Germany

Zachary Purvis

Oxford University Press

This conclusion charts the downfall of theology as science and the project of theological encyclopedia. As the nineteenth century lurched forward, theology’s academic standing faced an ever-increasing number of challengers, especially in fields connected with religious studies: the ‘science of religion’; ‘comparative religious history’. In the onset and aftermath of the First World War, radical disciplinary specialization, a crisis of historicism, and the attacks of dialectical theologians dimmed its star. Ultimately, the project’s idealist superstructure, committed to the unity of knowledge, disintegrated. The collapse of the prevailing system of Protestant learning in the German university left a cavernous crater. Theology in the university, it appeared, could no longer continue as a single science, one discipline whose parts formed an organic unity. Nevertheless, the project of theological encyclopedia shaped nearly all facets of modern theology in and beyond Germany, and continued to make its appearance into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Keywords:   Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth, Adolf von Harnack, dialectical theology, history of religions, comparative religion, modernity, university, seminary, religious studies

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