Nathan the Wise  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Nathan the Wise (original German title Nathan der Weise) is a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1779. It is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. Its performance was forbidden by the church during Lessing's lifetime and along with another of his works, The Jews (German title: Die Juden), was also banned by the Nazis.

Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, it describes how the wise Jewish merchant Nathan, the enlightened sultan Saladin and the (initially anonymous) Templar bridge their gaps between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Its major themes are friendship, tolerance, relativism of God, a rejection of miracles and a need for communication.

In the early 21st century, the Ring Parable of Nathan the Wise was taken up again in Peter Sloterdijk's Gottes Eifer: Vom Kampf der drei Monotheismen.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nathan the Wise" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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