Article by Merethe Roos in Studia Theologica.
They are humans and our fellow citizens! Protestant theology and Jews in the Danish Enlightenment: examples from Balthasar Münter’s sermons
This article thematizes how Jews are portrayed in the Danish theologian Balthasar Münter’s sermons. Münter served as a preacher in German St. Petri congregation in Copenhagen between 1765 and 1793, and left a great number of texts to posterity. Previous scholarship has argued that in one of his sermons, Münter seems to take a more positive view of the Jews than what was common in his day. This sermon was used to defend the rights of Jews in the Jewish Literary Feud in 1813. However, in this article I will argue that Münter’s positive attitude is shaped by his theological views and can be seen as a consequence of certain characteristics of enlightenment theology, rather than a genuine expression of tolerance towards religious minorities. In the article, I will argue that Münter demonstrated the same antisemitic attitudes that characterize the texts of his contemporaries, such as the well-known court preacher Christian Bastholm. Bastholm, who wrote a three-volume work on the Jews and who mentioned the Jews and Judaism in a number of contexts, refers to the Jews as an evil people who killed their prophets and stoned their sages. Nevertheless, Münter’s openness points to fundamental characteristics of protestant theology.