Adolf Harnack, Das Wesen des Christentums (1900) | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 72, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



Adolf Harnack’s (1900) sold more than 100.000 copies. The first English edition appeared already in 1902. In the preface, the church historian and liberal theologian Harnack (1851-1930) characterized the book as a ‘short and plain statement of the Gospel and its history’. The present article explores Harnack’s career, the defining historical approach (historicism), his characterisation of the essence of Christianity (‘God and the human soul, the soul and its God’), and the reception of (Alfred Loisy, Leo Baeck). Finally, its strengths (a contextualised, thick description of the Christian faith) and weaknesses (its hegemonial liberal stance) are outlined.


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