Bart Wallet will give the lecture ‘Theological Antisemitism and German-Dutch Intellectual Networks: Gerhard Kittel, Dutch Protestants and the ‘Jewish Question’' in the programme Current Issues in Religious Studies and Western Esotericism.
Theological Antisemitism and German-Dutch Intellectual Networks: Gerhard Kittel, Dutch Protestants and the ‘Jewish Question’
Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948) was for decades a household name within theological circles. He was the main editor of the widely popular Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (ThWNT), often simply called ‘Kittel’, which was used across the field of New Testament studies, but also by many Protestant pastors as a necessary tool for preparing their weekly sermons. Notwithstanding Kittel’s reputation in his field, it was no secret that he had joined the German Nazi party, the NSDAP, in 1933, and consequently developed into one of the theologians that worked hard to connect the Nazi ideology with Protestant theology. This included outspoken and pronounced racial antisemitism, as witnessed in several publications, among which Die Judenfrage (Stuttgart 1933) stands out. Whereas Kittel’s intellectual Werdegang has been critically assessed and his German networks neatly studied, his connections with scholars in the Netherlands have thus far escaped attention. Kittel was in close contact with Dutch Protestant theologians, and also well-known in circles of Dutch Jewish intellectuals. How did they respond to his antisemitism? This article analyses how Kittel’s turn to theological antisemitism was received in the Netherlands, among Protestants and Jews. It argues that, while Kittel’s antisemitism was received with shock by Jews, Orthodox Protestants reacted mildly as they shared an ideological Weltanschauung with Kittel. The Kittel case thus provides an entry into Dutch theologians’ assessment of antisemitism on the eve of the Second World War.
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