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FESTSCHRIFTEN . Festschrift or Festgabe (plural, Festschriften, Festgaben ) is the German word for a collection of articles written in honor of a scholar or high-ranking person (poet, politician, etc.) on the occasion of an anniversary (birth, award of doctorate, term of service, or death) or other important event, usually written by colleagues, pupils, or friends of the honoree. A list of publications may also be part of a Festschrift, as well as unpublished articles by the honored person. In addition, it has become customary to provide a picture of the honoree as the frontispiece of the volume. The first German Festschriften were published in the 1840s. Subsequently, the German word was taken over into other languages, although these also developed their own words or expressions for this academic genre: English Studies in hono(u)r of; French Mélanges or Hommage; Italian Studi in onore di or Omaggio ; Russian Sbornik statej, etc. While Festschriften for the anniversaries of such institutions as universities or cities may also contribute to academic discussion, this is not necessarily the case with Festschriften for anniversaries of such societies as fire brigades or sports clubs, which became very popular in German-speaking countries. An example of this nonacademic type of commemorative collection would be the Festschrift produced in 1882 for the twentieth anniversary of the Mitteldeutsche Pferdezucht-Verein (Central German Horse-Breeding Association).

Hence, the genre of Festschriften is a typical product of nineteenth-century German Gelehrtenkultur (culture of the educated), with its peculiar social structure and habits, that took on new characteristics after having been introduced into academic milieus outside Germany and Austria. After World War II, particularly in the 1960s, Festschriften lost much of their former prestige and were often regarded as old-fashioned, but this trend was reversed in the 1990s. Once again it became very fashionable to present Festschriften to older scholarsin fact, to precisely those scholars who had been most opposed to this academic custom when they were students.

Festschriften as Historical Sources

The academic merit of this particular genre is an open question. When the historian Theodor Mommsen received a Festschrift on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 1877, he said it would take him months to disprove the nonsense that had been said. Because a Festschrift is an occasion to honor rather than critique, to which friends rather than academic enemies are invited to contribute, and because articles are not usually peer-reviewed, these collections are of mixed academic quality. On the other hand, Festschriften gained a status of their own within academic debate as an appropriate tool in order to call attention to the research of a particular personat times ironically known only through the Festschriftand to expand on his or her theories, apply them to other fields, or discuss them in a friendly atmosphere. Festschriften are thus important resources for historians of science because they reflect the contemporary discourse on a given subject and the influence of certain theories on subsequent generations of scholars. In addition, from an anthropological perspective Festschriften tell a lot about the "family relations" within the academic community: Who contributes to a given volume and who does not? Although contingencies are involved in the selection of authors, the field of religious studiesparticularly in such small academic communities as those of Germany, the Netherlands, or Francecan be described and analyzed according to the names of the contributors to Festschriften.


Not all major scholars in the broad field of religious studies received Festschriften. In fact, so many lacked a respective volume that the absence of a Festschrift should not be interpreted to their discredit. Eminent scholars in the field who did not receive Festschriften include Johann Jakob Bachofen, Auguste Comte, Henry Corbin, Wilhelm Dilthey, Émile Durkheim, Sir James George Frazer, Jane Ellen Harrison, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Bronislaw Malinowski, Robert Ranulph Marett, Marcel Mauss, J. H. Mead, Friedrich Max Müller, Raffaele Pettazoni, Friedrich Schleiermacher, William Ramsey Smith, Nathan Söderblom, Ernst Troeltsch, Victor Turner, and Joachim Wach. Judging from extant Festschriften, however, one can easily find examples of the characteristics mentioned earlier. A Festschrift tells something about the transition of theories from one generation to another; to name but one example, Robin Horton edited a Festschrift for E. E. Evans-Pritchard (1973). That Festschriften may serve as instruments comparable to conference proceedings for putting themes on the scholarly agenda may be exemplified with Gershom Scholem (1967), Carsten Colpe (1991 and 1994), or Antoine Faivre (2001).

When scholars receive more than one Festschrift on different occasions, a comparison of these collections may illuminate progress or changes of interest in their research. The work and impact of Carl Gustav Jung, for instance, is reflected in the five Festschriften dedicated to him between 1935 and 1975, from his sixtieth to his hundredth birthday. The 1945 Festschrift, published as volume 12 of the Eranos-Jahrbücher, may be read as an attempt to cope psychologically with the catastrophe of the Second World War. The preface to the volume, written by O. Fröbe-Kapteyn, spoke of an "archetypal situation of transition between ending and beginning, death and rebirth on all fields." Explicitly harking back to the "psychological universe" of the "wisdom of the endlessly gifted antiquity," W. Wili's Geleitwort (foreword) presented Jung's archetypal theory as a cure for the "epidemic of sadism" that swept over Germany and its concentration camps, as well as the east and Europe, "as apocalyptic riders," against the "soul-pestilences" of the twentieth century, and against the "terrible force of the neuroses of the politically leading persons." Other Festschriften listed in the collection below likewise reflect their Zeitgeist both with regard to the cultural context and the particular scholarly fashions of the time.

See Also

Encyclopedias; Reference Works.


A Collection of Major Festschriften

The following overview is intended to provide the reader with examples of the characteristics of Festschriften discussed in the article. It focuses on important figures in the history of religion and well-known contemporary scholars. The honorees are listed in alphabetical order.

Carsten Colpe received two Festschriften: Elsas, Christoph, and Hans G. Kippenberg, eds. Loyalitätskonflikte in der Religionsgeschichte. Festschrift für Carsten Colpe (Würzburg, Germany, 1991); and Elsas, Christoph et al., eds. Tradition und Translation. Zum Problem der interkulturellen Übersetzbarkeit religiöser Phänomene. Festschrift für Carsten Colpe zum 65. Geburtstag (Berlin and New York, 1994). Mircea Eliade's Festschrift is a rigorous collection of a few articles from a large pool of interested authors: Kitagawa, Joseph M., and Charles H. Long, eds. Myths and Symbols: Studies in Honor of Mircea Eliade (Chicago and London, 1969). Edward E. Evans-Pritchard received two Festschriften: Cunnison, Ian, and Wendy James, eds. Essays in Sudan Ethnography, Presented to Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard (London, 1972); and Horton, Robin, and Ruth Finnegan, eds. Modes of Thought: Essays on Thinking in Western and Non-Western Societies. Collection dedicated to Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard (London, 1973). The voluminous Festschrift for Antoine Faivre fostered the study of Western esotericism: Caron, Richard, Joscelyn Godwin, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, and Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron, eds. Ésotérisme, Gnoses et Imaginaire symbolique. Mélanges offerts à Antoine Faivre (Leuven, Belgium, 2001). Among the major Festschriften for Sigmund Freud is Alexander, Franz, ed. Freud in der Gegenwart. Ein Vortragszyklus der Universitäten Frankfurt und Heidelberg zum 100. Geburtstag (Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1957). A Festschrift for Friedrich Heiler that clearly reflects his theological agenda was edited by Christel Matthias Schröder: In Deo omnia unum. Eine Sammlung von Aufsätzen, Friedrich Heiler zum 50. Geburtstage dargebracht (Munich, Germany, 1942). Karl Hoheisel was also honored with a Festschrift: Hutter, Manfred, et al., eds. Hairesis. Festschrift für Karl Hoheisel zum 65. Geburtstag (Münster, Germany, 2002).

William James received two important Festschriften: Essays, Philosophical and Psychological, in Honor of William James , by His Colleagues at Columbia University (New York, 1908); and Kallen, Horace Meyer, ed. In Commemoration of William James, 18421942 (New York, 1942). The five Festschriften for C. G. Jung are: Alm, Ivar et al., eds. Die kulturelle Bedeutung der komplexen Psychologie. Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag von Carl Gustav Jung (Berlin, 1935); Fröbe-Kapteyn, Olga, ed. Studien zum Problem des Archetypischen. Festgabe für C. G. Jung zum siebzigsten Geburtstag 26.7.1945 (Zürich, Switzerland, 1945); Fröbe-Kapteyn, Olga, ed. Aus der Welt der Urbilder. Sonderband für Carl Gustav Jung zum 75. Geburtstag, 26.7.1950 (Zürich, Switzerland, 1950); C.-G.-Jung-Institut Zürich, ed. Studien zur analytischen Psychologie Carl Gustav Jungs. Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstag von C. G. Jung. 2 vols. (Zürich, Switzerland, 1955); Dieckmann, Hans, et al., eds. Aspekte analytischer Psychologie. Zum 100. Geburtstag von Carl Gustav Jung 18751975 (Basel, Switzerland, 1975).

Among the important recent Festschriften is one for Hans G. Kippenberg: Luchesi, Brigitte, and Kocku von Stuckrad, eds. Religion im kulturellen Diskurs. Festschrift für Hans G. Kippenberg zu seinem 65. Geburtstag / Religion in Cultural Discourse. Essays in Honor of Hans G. Kippenberg on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday (Berlin and New York, 2004); and one for E. Thomas Lawson: Light, Timothy, and Brian C. Wilson, eds. Religion as a Human Capacity: A Festschrift in Honor of E. Thomas Lawson (Leiden, Netherlands, 2004). Gerardus van der Leeuw received a Festschrift that reflected a strong theological commitment: Kooiman, W. J., et al., eds. Pro regnopro santuario. Een bundle studies en bijdragen bij de 60. verjaardag van Prof. Dr. Gerardus van der Leeuw (Nijkerk, Netherlands, 1950). Of interest for religious studies is also a Festschrift for Karl Löwith: Braun, Hermann, and Manfred Riedel, eds. Natur und Geschichte. Karl Löwith zum 70. Geburtstag (Stuttgart, Germany, 1967); and one for Johann Maier: Merklein, Helmut, et al., eds. Bibel in jüdischer und christlicher Tradition. Festschrift für Johann Maier zum 60. Geburtstag (Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 1993). Gustav Mensching's Festschrift was edited by Rudolf Thomas: Religion und Religionen. Festschrift für Gustav Mensching zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, dargebracht von Freunden und Kollegen (Bonn, Germany, 1967).

A typical example of a nineteenth-century Festschrift is that for Theodor Mommsen: Commentationes philologae in honorem Theodori Mommseni scripserunt amici (Berlin, 1877). The Festschriften for Rudolf Otto include Frick, Heinrich, ed. Rudolf-Otto-Festgruß. Aufsätze eines Kollegenkreises zu Rudolf Ottos 60. Geburtstag (Gotha, Germany, 1931); Frick, Heinrich, ed. Rudolf-Otto-Ehrung. 3 vols. (Berlin, 1940); and Benz, Ernst, ed. Rudolf Otto's Bedeutung für die Religionswissenschaft und die Theologie heute. Zur 100-Jahrfeier seines Geburtstags, 25.9.1969 (Leiden, Netherlands, 1971). Heinrich Rickert also received a Festschrift: Faust, August, ed. Festgabe für Heinrich Rickert zum 70. Geburtstag (Buhl, Germany, 1933). Kurt Rudolph's Festschrift influenced the study of Gnosis and Gnosticism: Preißler, Holger, and Hubert Seiwert, eds. Gnosisforschung und Religionsgeschichte. Festschrift für Kurt Rudolph zum 65. Geburtstag (Marburg, Germany, 1994).

An important Festschrift for Gershom Scholem was edited by Ephraim E. Urbach and others: Studies in Mysticism and Religion, Presented to Gershom G. Scholem on His 70th Birthday by Pupils, Colleagues and Friends. 2 vols. (Jerusalem, 1967). Georg Simmel was honored with a more personal Festschrift: Gassen, Kurt, and Michael Landmann, eds. Buch des Dankes an Georg Simmel. Briefe, Erinnerungen, Bibliographie. Zu seinem 100. Geburtstag am 1.3.1958 (Berlin, 1958). Edward B. Tylor received a Festschrift late in his career: Balfour, Henry, et al., eds. Anthropological Essays Presented to Edward Burnett Tylor in Honour of His 75th Birthday, 2.10.1907. (Oxford, 1907). Max Weber received several Festschriften: Palyi, Melchior, ed. Hauptprobleme der Soziologie. Erinnerungsgabe für Max Weber. 2 vols. (Munich, Germany, 1923; König, René, and Johannes Winckelmann, eds. Max Weber zum Gedächtnis. Materialien und Dokumente zur Bewertung von Werk und Persönlichkeit (Cologne, Germany, 1963); and Englisch, Karl et al., eds. Max Weber Gedächtnisschrift der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München zur 100. Wiederkehr seines Geburtstags (Berlin, 1966).

Reference Works about Festschriften

Leistner, Otto. Internationale Bibliographie der Festschriften / International bibliography of Festschriften. Osnabrück, Germany, 1976. This resource provides a German and English index of names and subjects.

For the period after 1983, the Internationale Jahresbibliographie der Festschriften IJBF / International Annual Bibliography of Festschriften, published by K. G. Saur in Munich, Germany, is the major reference tool. This interdisciplinary database with information about 20,300 international Festschriften and 450,000 contributions is available on CD-ROM and online through some university networks. About a thousand Festschriften comprising twelve thousand articles are added to the indexed references each year. The IJBF focuses on European Festschriften in the area of the humanities.

Kocku von Stuckrad (2005)