Putting a Positive Spin on Priestcraft. Notions of Deceit and Accommodation in Late-Enlightenment German Theology

27 Feb 2018

In the late eighteenth century the principle of accommodation became so closely associated with the historical-critical approach of Johann Salomo Semler (1725-1791), a prominent theologian at the University of Halle, that he has on occasions been deemed its originator. As most scholars have, however, noted, accommodation as a principle of scriptural hermeneutics has a far longer history, extending back to the patristic writings. What by contrast has eluded closer investigation is the affinity that this principle exhibits to notions of deception. Nor has much consideration been given to the manner in which accommodation as an interpretative scheme has on occasions inspired accommodation as a form of strategic action. This article uses the opportunity provided by Semler in his interaction with a number of other figures associated with the late Enlightenment in Protestant Germany to explore these neglected aspects of accommodation.