, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 426–431 | Cite as

Jewish Theology in Germany: The co-Existence of Secular and Religious Discourse

  • Walter HomolkaEmail author
Symposium: Peter Berger’s “Two Pluralisms” in Europe


How often do secular and religious discourses communicate and interrelate at points where they intersect in society? When the Science of Judaism (Wissenschaft des Judentums) evolved at the beginning of the nineteenth century, it intended, through both theological and secular studies, to demonstrate the general value of Jewish culture and civilization. Although denied a place in the public university system until after the Shoah, Jewish Studies departments have since been established at various German universities, and, in 2013, the School of Jewish Theology of the University of Potsdam was opened as the first Jewish divinity school in the history of the German university system. With this, what was once a utopian dream became a reality, and both branches of the Science of Judaism, religious and secular, became undisputed parts of the German academic scene, using similar tools for differing aims. Two prime examples of the intersection of the secular and religious in Germany today are the proliferation of divinity schools at state universities, on the one hand, and the development of military chaplaincy in the armed forces, on the other. Both of these, through contractual agreements, aim to regulate and facilitate religious pluralism within a secular state. While the one has already begun to take place, the other is currently under discussion.


Christian state Abraham Geiger Germany Jewish theology Military chaplaincy Ludwig Philippson Pluralism Science of Judaism Secularism Wissenschaft des Judentums Leopold Zunz 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abraham Geiger CollegeUniversity of PotsdamBerlinGermany

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