Carlotta Santini

discipline Philosophy
Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship, Technische Universitaet, Berlin

Research project

Questioning the Epistemology of Myth between the XVIII and XX Centuries: Classical Philology and Biblical Exegesis


The significance of biblical exegesis and the Jewish philological tradition for the development of German classical philology and hermeneutics since the eighteenth century is a given. Yet scholars have paid much less attention to the actual interconnections between the internal branches of these disciplines. This is the case for the relationship between classical mythology and the parallel study of the biblical tradition. My research, marked by an interdisciplinary historical and epistemological approach, is interested in ascertaining whether and to what extent the category of myth, conceived within the limits of Classical scholarship has been applied as a critical and epistemological tool in biblical exegesis.


Biblical exegesis in German Protestant and Jewish contexts is anchored in an ancient and rooted tradition with proper critical tools. This disciplinary autonomy is certainly one of the reasons why we can speak of a contamination between Greek mythological and Biblical studies but not of a real assimilation of one by the other. If an historic-antiquarian approach dominates the study of ancient Greek texts, biblical exegesis is not a stranger to doctrinal and dogmatic reflection. Furthermore, the ancient prejudice of the Graecia mendax weighed heavily on the first classical mythological studies, and such a difficulty has reappeared vis-à-vis the application of the concept of myth to the sacred texts of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Resistance in this regard is bilateral. On the one hand, classical philologists are concerned with ensuring a myth’s legitimacy by redeeming it from the allegorical/pre-figurative interpretations of Christian theology; on the other hand, there is the parallel reluctance of those working in the field of Biblical exegesis to apply this new secularizing critical tool to the study of the Testament. Despite their many differences, comparing these two traditions is a primary task of historical and scientific relevance.


Starting from C.G. Heyne and the first works of Bauer and Seidenstücker, through the contributions of the philosophers Hamann, Herder and Schelling at the end of the eighteenth century, until the approach of the Voelkerpsychologie of Carus, Lazarus and Steinthal, my project will offer a reconstruction of the first systematic attempts to define the category of myth within the biblical tradition all along the nineteenth century. The final phase of my project will be devoted to the study of the renaissance of Hebrew mythology studies in Germany during the first decades of the twentieth century. The works of Winckler, Jeremias, Gunkel, Jacob and Bin Gorion adopt a mixed method (philological, comparative, anthropological and epistemological) close to the one applied by classical scholars, to the exegesis of the Sacred Text, distinguish the various levels of mythical, religious, ethical, and dogmatic discourse.




Carlota Santini is Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship, Technische Universitaet Berlin (2016-2018). She is an Associated Researcher to the Centre Marc Bloch for the Social Sciences in BerlinShe holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Paris IV - Sorbonne & the University of Salento.


Selected publications


'Friedrich Nietzsche in Basel: An apology for classical studies', Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 50, no. 6-7, 2018, pp. 672-681.


'Heidegger reads Augustine', Topicos. Revista de filosofia, What should we do with Heidegger?, 2018, pp. 87-105.


'One Sea, One Humanity. Modeling the Man-Sea Relationship in Friedrich Ratzel’s Anthropogeographical Project', Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas, vol. 6, no. 12-4, 2017, pp. 1-26.


'At the Origins of Modern Geography. The Oecumene: an Anthropogeographical Pattern', History of European Ideas, vol. 43, no. 6, 2017, pp. 560-569.


Friedrich Nietzsche, Le Cas Homère, (ed.), Les éditions de l’EHESS, 2017.


'Preface', Friedrich Nietzsche, Le Cas Homère, (ed.), Les éditions de l’EHESS, 2017.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)
discipline Anthropology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)
discipline Religious Studies
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)
discipline Musicology