Skip to main content

History and Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)


Standard English dictionaries have not furnished a definition of historicity corresponding even roughly to that given the term Geschichtlichkeit by German existentialists. Owing to the diversity in German existentialist thought, the terms geschichtlich (historical) and Geschichtlichkeit (historicity) exhibit a fairly wide semantic range. However, it may be said in general that, from the existentialist point of view, the historically significant is not necessarily identified completely with the factually historical. Thus, because of their impact on the individual believer, the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ are to be regarded as historically significant, whether factually established or not. Geschichtlichkeit may be described approximately as the full, authentic, active, and durative expression of a belief or movement in terms of personal participation and in relation to a given time. It can be used in an absolute sense, but also in a relative sense as well. It has application to the general as well as to the particular, and to the individual in relation to the community. It often involves contrasts and paradoxes. Geschichtlichkeit implies a rejection of traditional metaphysics, but, despite its opposition to certain aspects of historicism on the factual side, it likewise reflects, in some of its representatives at least, a relativistic concept of truth.

See Also: history, philosophy of; history, theology of; existentialism.

Bibliography: a. darlapp, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 4:780783, with bibliog. a. brunner, Geschichtlichkeit (Bern-Munich 1961). w. kamlah, Christentum und Geschichtlichkeit (2d ed. Stuttgart 1951), esp. 730. g. hasenhÜttl, Geschichte und existenziales Denken (Wiesbaden 1965).

[m. r. p. mcguire]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"History and Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"History and Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (February 20, 2019).

"History and Historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.