The Nineteenth Century Reception of Leibniz’s Examination of the Christian Religion

Studia Leibnitiana 52 (1-2):42-79 (2020)
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Leibniz’s lengthy theological treatise, Examen religionis christianae, has long puzzled scholars. Although a lifelong Lutheran who spurned many attempts to convert him to Catholicism, in the Examen Leibniz defends the Catholic position on a range of matters of controversy, from justification of the sinner to transubstantiation, from veneration of images to communion under both kinds. Inevitably, when finally published in 1819, the Examen quickly became the focus of a heated and sometimes ill-tempered debate about Leibniz’s true religious commitments. For many, what was at stake was not simply the interpretation of a particular text but the very soul of Leibniz, that universal genius and ornament of Europe. The aim of this paper is to chart the various ways in which the earliest readers of the Examen responded to the text and sought to understand it. Such a study will enable us not only to see the varying and quite contrasting interpretations put forward for Leibniz’s motive for writing the Examen, some of which inform contemporary interpretations, but also give us the opportunity to take a deeper look at certain features of the text and the context in which it was written.

Author's Profile

Lloyd Strickland
Manchester Metropolitan University


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