Christian Europe : Borders and Boundaries of a Mythological Conception

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The article investigates the notion of 'Christian Europe' by tracing some of its ideological roots. In particular, it engages with the Romantic era of German philosophy. If the idea of Europe from its very earliest stage was closely linked to Christianity, this gesture also became an important element in the attempts of a number of Romantic poets and philosophers to seek the foundations for a new universal order predicated on the spiritual evolution of humanity in general and of Christianity in particular. Most explicitly and with unsurpassed poetic power, this gesture is expressed by Novalis in his famous tract Christendom or Europe, written in 1799 and published posthumously only in 1826. The tract has ever since been an important reference point in both political and philosophical endeavors to define Europe as an exclusively Christian civilization. In order to do justice to Novalis, however, it should be underlined that his tract is driven by a truly cosmopolitan and explicitly anti-nationalist spirit. Nonetheless, as is argued in the article, the text contains a number of structural features that are problematic by virtue of revealing a larger pattern in the self-image of Christian Europe. In the third and final section, the author connects these structural features to the present debate, aiming at a critical assessment of any indiscriminating acclamation of Europe as a Christian civilization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEurope beyond universalism and particularism
EditorsSusanna Lindberg, Sergei Prozorov, Mika Ojakangas
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)9781137361820, 9781137361813
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History of Religions
  • Religious Studies

Free keywords

  • Europe
  • Christianity
  • Novalis
  • ideology critique
  • nationalism


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