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  • 1.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    A Contextual Analysis of the Two Regiments in the Swedish Luther Renaissance2014In: Theofilos; Tidskrift for å studere teologi, filosofi og kultur, ISSN 1893-7969, Vol. 6, no 1, p. 48-68Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 2.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    A theology for the Bildungsbürgertum: Albrecht Ritschl in context2020Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This book provides a new approach to Albrecht Ritschl’s theology. Leif Svensson argues that Ritschl’s theological project must be related to three cultural developments – historical criticism, materialism, and anti-Lutheran polemics – and understood in the context of the de-Christianization of the Bildungsbürgertum in nineteenth-century Germany.

  • 3.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    A Theology for the Bildungsbürgertum: Ritschl in Context2018Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The subject of this historical-theological investigation is the German Lutheran theologian Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889). Ritschl’s theology is understood in the context of the de-Christianization of the German Bildungsbürgertum (educated middle class). It is demonstrated that an ambition to counteract this tendency runs all through Ritschl’s theological thinking. More specifically, the study argues that Ritschl’s theology can be seen as a response to three intellectual challenges to Christianity in general and Lutheranism in particular – historical criticism, materialism, and anti-Lutheran polemics.

    Part I concentrates on historical criticism and Ritschl’s interpretation of history. Chapter 1, which presents Leopold von Ranke’s historicist-oriented historical school at the University of Berlin and Ferdinand Christian Baur’s theological Tübingen school, provides the wider setting of Ritschl’s historical analysis. It is argued, in chapter 2, that those schools had a significant impact – albeit in different ways – on Ritschl’s understanding of history. The contribution of Ritschl to the so-called first quest for the historical Jesus is analyzed in chapter 3, which also points out that Johannes Weiss’ and Albert Schweitzer’s apocalyptic critique of the first quest undermined the historical foundation of Ritschl’s theology.

    In part II, the focus is on materialism and the metaphysical framework of Ritschl’s theology. Chapter 4 discusses anthropological materialism, scientific materialism, and late idealism – three intellectual movements of relevance to Ritschl’s metaphysics. In chapter 5, Ritschl’s metaphysical framework is described as an attempt to safeguard the spiritual dimension of existence against the threat of materialism. This chapter also argues that Ritschl’s metaphysics is indebted to Hermann Lotze’s late idealist philosophy. Chapter 6 highlights the relationship between Ritschl’s metaphysics and his protest against “classical metaphysical theology,” and examines how Ritschl’s metaphysical framework leads him to reject natural theology and the classical Christological and trinitarian dogmas.

    Part III discusses Ritschl’s theological ethics or understanding of Christian life in the context of the values of the Bildungsbürgertum and against the background of anti-Lutheran polemics. In chapter 7, an overview of the ethos of the educated middle class is provided. The subject of chapter 8 is Ritschl’s defense of Luther’s cultural importance against Paul de Lagarde’s criticism of the Lutheran Reformation. Chapter 9 carries out an analysis of Ritschl’s thinking on Christian life and its modern sources, especially noting the influences of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher, and exploring the similarities between Ritschl’s ethics and the values of the educated middle class.

    In the Conclusion, the findings of the investigation are summarized in the claim that Ritschl’s responses to historical criticism, materialism, and anti-Lutheran polemics demonstrate that his theology in many respects was a theology for the Bildungsbürgertum. The concluding chapter also reflects on the implications of the present study for the common characterization of Ritschl as a Kulturprotestant (mediator between the Protestant Reformation and modern culture), problematizes Ritschl’s interpretation of the historical Jesus, and argues that Ritschl’s theological project was essentially abandoned by his most famous students.

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  • 4.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Luther i den moderna lutherdomens tjänst: Albrecht Ritschl och den svenska Lutherrenässansen2022In: Svensk teologisk kvartalskrift, ISSN 0039-6761, Vol. 97, no 4, p. 335-350Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There are plenty of misconceptions about how the Luther Renais­sance in Sweden relates to Albrecht Ritschl and nineteenth-century German Luther research. This article sheds new light on the importance of Ritschl's groundbreaking Luther interpretation to the first generation of the Swedish Luther Renaissance, as represented by its leading voices – Einar Billing and Nathan Söderblom. I demonstrate that there are substantial similarities between how Ritschl, Billing, and Söderblom approach and make use of Luther's thought. They all combine a careful analysis of Luther's theology with an interest in understanding his role in history. And despite their high regard of Luther as the great Protestant reformer, Ritschl, Billing, and Söderblom at times show a considerable distance to his thinking. It is also evident that they found solutions to contemporary questions and challenges in Luther's writings. Their constructive use of Luther is, I further argue, closely related to a positive reception of histor­ical criticism and an ambition to make Lutheranism relevant to modern society. This to a large extent explains why Ritschl, Billing, and Söderblom have a freer attitude towards Luther than many of their Lutheran col­leagues, and also why they emphasize those aspects of his theology that they consider especially fruitful for modern society.

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  • 5.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Ritschls teologiska etik och det bildade borgerskapet: en nyansering av den barthianska kritiken2021In: Vänskap: festschrift för Arne Rasmusson / [ed] Ola Sigurdson; Jayne Svenungsson, Malmö: Spricka förlag , 2021, p. 49-63Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campell: American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us2012In: Theofilos; Tidskrift for å studere teologi, filosofi og kultur, ISSN 1893-7969, Vol. 4, no 1, p. 89-94Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Svensson, Leif
    Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
    The "Communitarian" Critique of Luther's Ethics2014In: Lutheran Identity and Political Theology / [ed] Carl-Henric Grenholm & Göran Gunner, Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2014, p. 172-189Chapter in book (Refereed)
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