In his presentation in the Leipzig Lab interdisciplinary lecture series “Grenzgänge”, Alon Segev examines Gerhard Kittel’s solution to the Jewish question as example of the relationship between religion and violence.
In 1933, Gerhard Kittel, a New Testament scholar, the founder and chief editor of the dictionary of the New Testament, and one of Germany’s most prominent theologians in the 20th century, held a lecture called “The Jewish Question”. By the end of the war, Kittel has been charged by the allies for tight cooperation with the Nazi regime and authorities in their research on the Jewish question. He lost his professorship at Tübingen University and his position as the editor of the dictionary of the New Testament without any retirement compensation and put in prison for almost two years. Shortly after his release in 1948, Kittel died at the age of 59. While awaiting his trial in prison, Kittel composed a text to be submitted to the authorities, in which he explains his conduct during the Nazi time. Time and again, he says that he joined the Nazi party only in order to be a thorn in the flesh, trying as theologian to prevent it from becoming worse.
In his lecture “The Jewish Question” of 1933, which appeared in print in a few editions, Kittel discusses four solutions to the presence of Jews in Germany. He turns down assimilation, annihilation, and deportation of all Jews as acceptable solution to the Jewish question. The solution he opts for is a status of guest (Gastzustand) for the Jews living in Germany. The Jews living in Germany will be stripped off all their civil rights and will be allowed to live only as aliens (Fremdling). According to Kittel, this solution is the only acceptable one, since it derives from divine decision as it is related in the New Testament. It’s not a political or racial solution, as Kittel emphasizes, but rather a theological solution to the Jewish question.
In his presentation, Alon Segev examines Kittel’s solution to the Jewish question as example of the relationship between religion and violence. He shows that the prevalent theories on this relationship by Jan Assmann and René Girard cannot explain this relationship in the case of Kittel. Segev offers a different context to discuss the relationship between religion and violence in Kittel’s text, as it is unfolded mainly in the work of St. Augustine.
Dr. Alon Segev is a philosopher and religious scholar and the author of three books and numerous essays on the Nazi era and contemporary European history from Descartes to Hannah Arendt. He teaches philosophy at Loyola University Chicago and is a visiting professor at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge University.
Alon Segev is a fellow at the Leipzig Lab working group “Intangibles” in November and December 2020.
About the lecture series:
The lecture series “Grenzgänge” is an initiative of the Leipzig Lab with the aim of discussing cross-disciplinary issues and initiating interdisciplinary research. On each date, a fellow from one of the three working groups will present his or her research in the context of the Leipzig Lab and discuss it with the members of the Leipzig Lab and all those interested.
In addition to the scientific exchange with the fellows, this series of lectures is intended to open up the Leipzig Lab to the whole university and open up new spaces for further discussions and possible cooperation. The series will conclude with a final discussion on the topic of “Körper-Grenzen” with representatives of all working groups of the Leipzig Lab and other guests.
Learn more about the lecture series
14 December 2020, 19:30: Dr. Stefan Höhne: title tba (fellow at the working group “Global Health”)
11 January 2021, 19:30: Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka: “Worlding Permaculture School Gardens: Translocal Connectivities and Minor Utopias in Timor Leste” (fellow at the working group “Children and Nature”)
25 January 2021, 19:30: Final Discussion: “Körper-Grenzen”
Erstellt von: Karoline Marx