Daniel Weidner (ed./eds.)

Urpoesie und Morgenland
Johann Gottfried Herders »Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie«
[Primordial Poetry and the Orient. Johann Gottfried Herder's “Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie”]

LiteraturForschung vol. 6
Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2008, 360 pages
ISBN 978-3-86599-065-5

Perhaps German literary history could have gone a little differently: For a brief moment around 1800, it looked as if not only could the fixation on a national canon extended by the ancient classics be avoided, but also the other of Western poetry: the Orient, the Bible, would become part of poetry. Johann Gottfried Herder's Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie (1782/83) combines suggestions from the Christian and Jewish traditions, Enlightenment criticism and the emerging historical-critical biblical studies in order to create a comprehensive, anthropologically and epistemologically founded poetics on a biblical basis.
But Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie found—although much read—no successors. It falls between the disciplines, for Bible and literature, hardly having met each other, separated shortly afterwards: beautiful literature differed not only from science and history, but also from religion; on the other hand, the emerging historical-critical exploration of the Bible largely suppressed the question of its poetry.
Herder's text is thus a borderline case and opens up a wealth of readings that the contributions of this volume try to explore: between poetics and Bible exegesis, between Christian tradition and Jewish text, between Enlightenment, Classicism and Romanticism, between Bible commentary and doctrinal dialogue, between orientalist imagination and historical philology.