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"Dies hohe Lied der Duldung"? The Ambiguities of Toleration in Lessing's "Die Juden and Nathan der Weise"

Ritchie Robertson
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 93, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 105-120
DOI: 10.2307/3733627
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3733627
Page Count: 16
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Abstract

Lessing's plays "Die Juden" and "Nathan der Weise" have usually been considered, especially by Jewish readers, impressive pleas for social and religious toleration. The parable of the three rings, in particular, has been taken as a compelling argument for showing equal respect for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, both plays show nominal tolerance to Jews while emphasizing their difference; neither shows an informed interest in Jews or Judaism, but both emphasize anti-Christian polemic, and the conception of religion underlying the ring parable is really an agnostic humanism that sidesteps the problems of toleration.

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