1. The study of Lessing presented in this book is based on five different editions of Lessing's works (see Abbreviations). The reason the use of any single edition is insufficient is briefly stated in note 8 of the introduction. Basically, I have used the 23-volume Sämtliche Schriften (LM) edited by Karl Lachmann and Franz Muncker, widely regarded as the best critical edition to date. An increasing number of researchers, however, have lately made use of the more compact 8-volume "Hanser," or "Göpfert," edition: Werke edited by Herbert G. Göpfert and published by the Carl Hanser Verlag (G). A new critical edition, which when completed will certainly be more comprehensive than any other, is now being published in the series Bibliothek Deutscher Klassiker: Werke und Briefe in zwölf Bänden edited by Wilfried Barner (B). This new standard edition will most likely replace all previous ones because of its scholarly precision, up-to-date information, and comprehensiveness. But because publication is still in process, the use of this edition as a main text is not yet possible. Consequently, I have used LM as my main text, while reference has also been made to G and B.
2. In citing Lessing's works, cross-references will be made and an abbreviated form of the text's name will be given in parentheses. For example, the form used in citing from the text of Eine Duplik is as follows: LM 13, 23—24; G8, 32—33 (Eine Duplik). In citing letters to or from Lessing, reference will be made to both LM and B, and necessary information is given in parentheses as follows: LM 18, 356 (Letter to Elise Reimarus of 28 November 1780); B 12, 361 (no. 1602), or LM 19, 31-33 (Letter from Moses Mendelssohn of 10 January 1756); B 11/1, 85-87 (no. 84).
3. The Lachmann-Muncker edition (LM) leaves old orthographic forms as they stood in Lessing's original writings. In compliance with G and B, however, this book in principle uses modern orthographic forms. But because some terms are still in old orthographic forms even in G and B, these terms are cited in the form in which they appear, as in Gottesgelahrtheit, allmählig, etc.
4. The present study is based exclusively on Lessing's original German texts. It also makes extensive use of other German literature. For the benefit of American readers, however, all passages cited are given in English translation, sources being indicated in the notes and bibliography as appropriate. An important title, on its first appearance, is given in English (with the German title in parentheses); thereafter only in English. Incidentally, when a title has two publication dates divided by a slash, as in Die Religion, 1749/50, the slash mark signifies "or." For the passages cited, I have used existing standard translations wherever possible, though I usually identify the translation being used only on the first occasion, rather than each time. Where no translation exists, I have made my own English rendering. Because the German texts include a number of terms for which there are no exact equivalents in English, I have added the original German in parentheses whenever appropriate in the hope of conveying more vividly the flavor of Lessing's thinking.
Lessing's Philosophy of Religion and the German
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