Church & society in eighteenth-century Geneva, 1700-1789
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This doctoral thesis, entitled “Church & Society in Eighteenth-Century Geneva, 1700-1789”, will seek to reappraise the relationship between religion and the Enlightenment through the context of eighteenth-century Geneva. Based on the perspectives of the philosophes, historians have generally understood the Enlightenment as the source of secularization and a period of religious decline. However, more recent work has begun to reassess the developments of religion in the eighteenth century beyond the philosophes, resulting in an increasingly multi-faceted picture of religion in the age of Enlightenment. This thesis will contribute to that revisionist effort. Eighteenth-century Geneva offers an intriguing example because it allows one to observe the encounter of the Reformation and the Enlightenment in the figurative meeting between Calvin and Voltaire. With that in mind, this work will re-examine the legacy of Calvin from 1700 to 1789 through a socio-historical and theological approach in order to analyze the functioning of religious life in Genevan society, the theological content and development of preaching and worship, and the clerical responses to incidents of conflict in relation to the government and the philosophes. The near totality of this research has stemmed from the study of manuscript sources within the Genevan archives, such as sermons, church and government records, and official and personal correspondence. Through the perspective of Geneva’s church and clergy, a far more complex picture of the dynamic between religion and the Enlightenment will emerge supporting the understanding that the Enlightenment occurred differently in different contexts and challenging the widespread attribution of the secularization theory and the decline of religion thesis to the eighteenth century.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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