The essays selected here for translation derive largely
from Thomasius’s work on Staatskirchenrecht, or
the political jurisprudence of church law. These works,
originating as disputations, theses, and pamphlets, were
direct interventions in the unresolved issue of the
political role of religion in Brandenburg-Prussia, a state
in which a Calvinist dynasty ruled over a largely Lutheran
population and nobility as well as a significant Catholic
minority. In mandating limited religious toleration within
the German states, the provisions of the Peace of
Westphalia (1648) also provided the rulers of
Brandenburg-Prussia with a way of keeping the powerful
Lutheran church in check by guaranteeing a degree of
religious freedom to non-Lutherans and thereby
detaching the state from the most powerful territorial
church. Thomasius’s writings on church-state relations,
many of them critical of the civil claims made by
Lutheran theologians, are a direct response to this state
of affairs. At the same time, owing to the depth of intellectual
resources at his disposal, these works constitute a
major contribution to the broader discussion of the
relation between the religious and political spheres.
(1655–1728) was a German
philosopher and legal theorist. He was
a cofounder of the University of Halle,
where he was also a professor.
Ian Hunter is Australian
Professorial Fellow in the Centre for
the History of European Discourses,
University of Queensland.
Frank Grunert is a member of
the Institute for Philosophy at the
University of Giessen.
Thomas Ahnert is a Lecturer in
History at the University of Edinburgh.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.