Germans, Jews and the Claims of Modernity

Jonathan M. Hess

In this original analysis of the debates in Germany over Jews, Judaism, and Jewish emancipation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Hess reconstructs a crucial chapter in the history of secular anti-Semitism. He examines not only the thinking of German intellectuals of the time but also that of Jewish writers, revealing the connections between anti-Semitism and visions of modernity, and the Jewish responses to the threat posed by these connections. By tracking the evolution of the widespread debates between Germans and Jews, he uncovers the process by which Judaism came to play a central role in defining secular universalism and political modernization.