The antichrist

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Title page of the first edition in 1894 (in Volume VIII of the edition by Fritz Koegel).

The antichrist. Curse on Christianity is one of Friedrich Nietzsche's late works . He wrote the polemical account of Christianity in the late summer and autumn of 1888. Since Nietzsche had not specifically tried to publish it until his mental breakdown a few months later, the manuscript was initially withheld and only published by the Nietzsche archive in 1894 , albeit with several Flaws. Disputes over a correct edition of the work dragged - as with all of Nietzsche's later works - into the second half of the 20th century.

As in his Götzen-Twilight and in other of his last works, Nietzsche philosophizes here "with the hammer" and wants to "revalue" old values. With recourse to some of his earlier writings, he bundles his criticism of Christianity, which he gives a hitherto unknown sharpness. In often succinct sentences he criticizes the Christianity of the priests, which was essentially founded by Paul and which, among other things, destroyed the legacy of Greek and Roman antiquity . He also gives an original psychological interpretation of Jesus . He speaks out against the ethic of compassion , attacks Christian theology and the (German) philosophy that is dependent on it from his point of view, as well as the Judeo- Christian concept of God , and contrasts Christianity with other religions such as Buddhism , Islam or Brahmanism as being superior in different respects.

The work is of central importance in Nietzsche's later philosophy (see Friedrich Nietzsche: Overview of the work ). Its now common in Nietzsche research Sigel is AC .


The work consists of a foreword and 62 short chapters. It is unclear whether Nietzsche's text “ Law against Christianity ” was intended to be the end of the book.


In the short foreword Nietzsche gives characteristics that readers would need to be able to understand him at all. But he only sees such readers coming in the distant future:

“This book belongs to very few. Perhaps none of them are still alive. It may be the ones who think Zarathustra understand: how should I confuse myself with those for which already grow ears today? - The day after tomorrow is mine. Some are born posthumously . "

- Foreword: KSA 6, p. 167
Chapters 1-7

Chapters 1 to 7 were initially entitled "We Hyperboreans ". Nietzsche introduces himself and his readers as outmoded and recluses who have moved away from modernity and found a new way. He sets up his valuation standards in a formula and instead of looking for progress - in which he does not believe - for a “higher type”, “a kind of superhuman ”: fortunes, be it individuals or entire cultures, that have occurred repeatedly in history be. Christianity, however, has always fought against this higher type, corrupted humanity with the ethic of compassion and thus made the higher type almost impossible.

"Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Schleiermacher [...] Kant and Leibniz [...] Everything mere Schleiermacher" wrote Nietzsche elsewhere. In the Antichrist he made Kant especially responsible for the lack of distance between philosophy and Christianity.
Chapters 8-14

In these chapters, initially entitled "For us - against us", Nietzsche introduces theologians and philosophers as his opponents. Priests and theologians are instinctual liars: in order for them to come to power, they have turned all natural values ​​upside down. Philosophy, especially German, is a theology continued with other means:

"The Protestant pastor is the grandfather of German philosophy [...] You only have to pronounce the word ' Tübinger Stift ' in order to understand what German philosophy is basically - a deceitful theology ..."

- Chapter 10: KSA 6, p. 176

After this allusion to German idealism, Nietzsche attacks Kant : With his epistemological philosophy he declared the core of Christian faith to be invulnerable and irrefutable, whether on purpose or not. In any case, it was precisely this “secret route to the old ideal” according to Kant that was successfully taken up. Kant also set up a “life-threatening moral philosophy” by placing a general duty at its head. According to Nietzsche, people perish from impersonal duties. Conversely, every individual must have his or her virtue.

Nietzsche criticizes the fact that the previous philosophy - with the exception of "a pair of skeptics" - submitted to morality and committed itself to its justification instead of investigation and criticism. On the other hand, he praises the methodology of science, which has put man back among animals and is only just beginning to understand him. Conversely, to want to understand the whole of nature and man from the point of view of a deity, a will or a spirit (like Schopenhauer and Hegel ) is a wrong path.

Chapters 15-19

This section was initially entitled “Concept of a Decadence Religion”. In Chapter 15, Nietzsche explains that the whole world of Christianity serves those who suffer from life to “lie” away from reality. Chapters 16 to 19 were initially a treatise “On the History of the Concept of God”, the last section of which Nietzsche did not include here. According to this, a healthy people creates a mighty, strong God in his own image, who still stands above the terms “good” and “bad”. The Christian concept of God, on the other hand, has degenerated, it is only good for poor people and the sick, in Nietzsche's parlance "nihilistic": it no longer sanctifies the world, this world, but is now a contradiction to life. This weak, fading God also found its way into philosophy from Spinoza onwards as "ideal", "pure spirit" (Hegel), "absolutum" (Fichte) or "thing in itself" (Kant, Schopenhauer).

Chapters 20-23

In these chapters Nietzsche compares “ Buddhism and Christianity” - that was the original title. It is true that Buddhism is also nihilistic and decadent in that it addresses the suffering and declares the world to be bad (compare the passages mentioned here for Nietzsche's use of the terms “nihilism” and “decadence” ). But Buddhism is much more realistic, smarter and more elegant than Christianity. The concept of God is lacking, as is the moral preparation of the world: Suffering is not explained by sin, but rather coldly recognized and fought in a clever way. Buddhism stands at the end of a development and stands for the tiredness of a late civilization, while Christianity only cares for illness and fatigue, it addresses the failures. Only the virtues of faith, love and hope, which attract those who suffer, are wise in Christianity : Buddhism does not need such a thing.

Chapters 24-27

“The roots of Christianity” is the last deleted title in the manuscript before chapter 24. Nietzsche thus turns his gaze to Judaism. In its history, too, he sees the decline from an originally healthy folk religion to an unnatural moralism. He blames the priestly caste in particular for this: They falsified all the terms in order to keep themselves in power. The Old Testament is a priestly work that has reinterpreted the whole history of Israel into a "stupid salvation mechanism" in which guilt against Javeh leads to punishment, piety to reward. All of this serves to make people submit to the priests. To do this, however, all reality, all actual strength and power had to be negated. In Christianity this negation has reached a higher level: It is now directed against the priestly caste itself, against the institutions of organized religion.

Chapters 28-35
Nietzsche found Ernest Renan's portrayal of Jesus naive.
Dostoyevsky observed the type of Jesus better.

Nietzsche tries here to give a psychological interpretation of the person and the teachings of Jesus . He strongly contradicts the theses of Ernest Renan , who in his main work Vie de Jésus (1863) made Jesus a “hero” and a “genius”. On the contrary, Jesus is an idiot. This word is certainly ambiguous: in spite of all the polemics, the original Greek meaning (compare idiot , idiotes ) of a solitary or apolitical person can be seen, but then also the allusion to Dostoyevsky's The Idiot . Because of his extreme ability to suffer and irritation, Jesus was only capable of all-embracing love, everything else caused him pain. He does not even notice reality, he can only express his inner states in symbols. Nietzsche sees the teaching and practice of Jesus as related to those of Epicurus - albeit with less vitality - and Buddhas - but "on very little Indian soil". The only thing that was important for Jesus was evangelical practice, a life based on an inner feeling, without resistance. For Jesus, the “kingdom of God” does not mean something in the future, as the Church interprets it, but is a state of soul of all-embracing love and inner peace that can be reached at any time through appropriate action. The Christian type has no interest in culture, politics, science; he does not understand at all how one can judge differently from himself; he can only feel grief-stricken sympathy for teaching contrary to this.

“The life of the Redeemer was nothing else than this practice - his death was nothing else [...] he knows how it is the practice of life alone , with which one feels 'divine', 'blessed', 'evangelical', everyone Time a 'child of God' feels. Not 'repentance', not 'prayer for forgiveness' are ways to God: evangelical practice alone leads to God, it is ' God' - what was done with the gospel, that was Judaism of the terms' sin 'and' forgiveness of sin ',' faith ',' salvation by faith '"

- Chapter 33: KSA 6, p. 205 f.
Chapters 36-38

In a small digression, Nietzsche explains how it only became clear in his day that the history of Christianity was a further falsification. All church is based on the contrast of what Jesus represented. In the meantime, it should be clear to everyone that the Christian terms are lies, that priests do not err out of ignorance, but rather lie to maintain power. In fact, modern people also behaved in an unchristian manner, politics - Nietzsche alludes to Bismarck and Wilhelm II - is downright anti-Christian, and yet everything remains the same, statesmen continue to call themselves Christians, and the priest remains an honored person. He feels disgusted about this:

“What was previously just sick, today it became indecent - it is indecent to be a Christian today. [...] Even with the most modest claim to righteousness one must know today that a theologian, a priest, a Pope is not only wrong with every sentence he utters, but lies [...] Even the priest knows as well as everyone knows that there is no more 'God', no 'sinner', no 'savior' - that 'free will', 'moral world order' are lies [...] "

- Chapter 38: KSA 6, p. 210
Paul: for Nietzsche the prototype of the priest of a slave morality.
Chapters 39-46

Here Nietzsche explains how the Christian church came into being after Jesus' death. The early church did not understand any of Jesus' teachings, completely misinterpreted his death and then built exactly what Jesus had left behind: an organized church, again with a priesthood. The main culprit for this falsification is Paul , who misused all of Jesus' terms in order to bring himself to power. With him the belief in sin and forgiveness had risen again, and in deep hatred he had re-established Christianity as a rebellion against everything noble and privileged. Nietzsche rejects the teachings of the immortality of the soul and the Last Judgment with particular indignation .

“You don't have to be misled: 'don't judge!' they say, but they send everything to hell that stands in their way. By letting God judge, they judge themselves; glorifying God, they glorify themselves [...] The reality is that this is the most conscious elect conceit plays modesty: one has to that, community 'that, good and just' once and for all on the one page placed on the 'truth' - and the rest, the 'world', on the other ... "

- Chapter 44: KSA 6, p. 220 f.

Nietzsche gives a few passages from the New Testament as evidence and also refers to his theory of “ slave morality ” from Zur Genealogie der Moral .

Chapters 47-49

Nietzsche explains once again that his opposition to Christianity does not simply (only) consist in not finding any god in history or nature - as is usually understood by atheism - but that he does not consider what is glorified in Christianity to be worthy of worship feels. In the following, Nietzsche deals with the relationship between Christianity and science : The well-known hostility, on the other hand, is based on the fact that Christianity is based on lies and disappears as soon as reality is recognized. Medicine ( biology ) and philology in particular had exposed the heresy of the Church and were therefore always fought. Nietzsche interprets the story of the Fall from Genesis as a parable on the fear of the priest (who presents himself as God) before science. The whole doctrine of sin and the moral world order, which gives nature and history a moral meaning, is invented in order to conceal natural causalities and to give the priest power over his fellow men.

Chapters 50-55

What follows is a general psychology of believers, martyrs and fanatics. These are mentally weak or unsuccessful people; the church is to be reproached for having promoted precisely this type. Nietzsche mocks the "completely childish and unworthy" belief in divine providence, as it is still widespread today. Canonizing martyrs has harmed the truth: the view is still widespread that something is true because someone dies for it.

“In the tone with which a martyr throws his belief in the world at the head, such a low degree of intellectual righteousness, such a dullness for the question of truth, is expressed that a martyr never needs to be refuted. The truth is nothing that one person would have and another would not have: at most farmers or peasant apostles can think about the truth in the Luther's style. "

- Chapter 53: KSA 6, p. 234

All great, free, strong minds are skeptics who at most occasionally indulge in convictions; Believers, on the other hand, are always dependent and can eventually become fanatics. Finally, Nietzsche again attacks the way of thinking made possible again in his understanding of Kant, that reason cannot judge the ultimate things: with this, the right is given back to "revelation", to faith, which in reality means to the priest, to rule here. According to Nietzsche, all priestly and philosophical-priestly rulers rest on the right to the holy lie given here , as found not only in Christianity, but also in Mohammed , Confucius , and Plato .

Chapters 56-57

But it depends on the purpose for which you lie. Here Nietzsche contrasts Christianity with the BrahmanisticLaw Book of Manu ”. This has a much better goal than Christianity, the creation of a Nietzsche “natural order” of different castes with different rights. Equal rights for all are unnatural: the mediocre should definitely find their happiness in mediocrity, the workers be self-sufficient. Christianity, on the other hand, paved the way for anarchists (Nietzsche means the terrorist anarchists of the 19th century ) and socialists who incite people to envy and revenge in order to gain power.

" Cesare Borgia as Pope [...] that would have been the victory that I alone desire today."
Chapters 58-61

Nietzsche sees this political destructive power of Christianity, which is directed against everything noble, confirmed in history. Christianity first destroyed the legacy of antiquity, especially of the Roman Empire; later then the Moorish- Islamic culture of Spain and in the crusades the far superior oriental culture. Nietzsche sees the last great chance for improvement in the Renaissance : Here everything was prepared for a victory of higher culture over Christianity, and especially in the center of Christianity, in Rome. But this prevented the Reformation .

Luther saw the corruption of the papacy, while the very opposite was palpable: the old corruption, the peccatum originale , Christianity no longer sat in the papal chair! But life! But the triumph of life! But the big yes to all lofty, beautiful, daring things! ... And Luther restored the church : he attacked it ... "

- Chapter 61: KSA 6, p. 251

The Germans in particular were guilty of this and repeatedly destroyed opportunities for a higher culture, most recently with the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon and the founding of the Empire in 1871 .

Chapter 62

Finally, Nietzsche turns against talking about the “humanitarian blessings” of Christianity. Rather, the church has always created emergencies, such as the “worm of sin” and the “art of self-desecration”. Christianity cannot have any humanitarian use because its concept of humanitas, humanity and humanity, is completely wrong. Its ideals stand against all higher, well-off people; it has devalued and negated this life. Christianity is the highest possible corruption and has turned all values ​​upside down. On the other hand, a new " revaluation of all values " is pending.

For the law against Christianity , which the book should eventually conclude, see below .

Origin and classification in Nietzsche's writings

Origin and tradition

Between the end of August and September 3, 1888, Nietzsche changed his plans for further publications: he gave up the long-planned work The Will to Power and instead wanted an excerpt from his main ideas and later a four-volume work called from the material previously written Publish revaluation of all values . Over the next few weeks, the excerpt became the Twilight of the Idols . From an initial plan for this work, however, he took four chapters. You should now be starting the first book of Revaluation , which is entitled The Antichrist. Attempt to criticize Christianity got, make up and correspond to sections 1 - 23 in the work. Between September 3 and 30, Nietzsche wrote the following sections first in the Nietzsche House in Sils-Maria , then in Turin . At the beginning of October the work was probably available roughly in the form known today.

The two title pages of the manuscript: first the first book of the revaluation , then the “curse” standing on its own.

From that time there are several plans for books 2 to 4 of the revaluation of all values . Towards the end of November Nietzsche also changed this plan: The Antichrist was now the whole revaluation , on a new title page it is now called The Antichrist. Revaluation of all values. Finally Nietzsche deleted this subtitle and replaced it with a curse on Christianity . He planned - probably already at the beginning of madness - to have the Antichrist translated into all major European languages ​​within the next two years and then to publish it in gigantic editions. The autobiography Ecce homo , begun in October, was to be printed first , then Nietzsche contra Wagner and the Dionysus dithyrambs . Even before these works went to press, Nietzsche's madness broke out openly at the turn of the year 1888/89.

Franz Overbeck , who brought Nietzsche , who was suffering from progressive paralysis, from Turin to Basel, among other things brought the Antichrist manuscript to safety and made a copy of it. In 1893 he sent the original to Heinrich Köselitz , who handed it to Elisabeth Förster , who had returned to Germany .

Position of writing in Nietzsche's work

The position of the Antichrist in Nietzsche's work is already clear from the history of its genesis: Together with the Twilight of the Idols , the script forms that part of the late “revaluation philosophy” that Nietzsche wanted to publish. Since he referred to the Antichrist as the whole "revaluation", it can be assumed that everything essential to the revaluation was said for him.

In the autobiographical text Ecce homo , which Nietzsche wrote after the Antichrist but wanted to publish beforehand, he refers several times to the revaluation, also cites a sentence from the law against Christianity , but does not explicitly go into its content. Especially in the last chapter of Ecce homo there are summaries of the results of the Antichrist , of whose world-historical importance Nietzsche seems to be convinced.

Many of the criticisms of religion and Christianity brought up in the Antichrist are not new, but can be found in other writings of Nietzsche since the beginning of the "free-spirited" period around 1878. The third chapter, "The religious life" from Human, All too human (1878), Aph. 92 to 97 from Mixed Opinions and Proverbs (1879), Aph. 74 to 85 from Der Wanderer und seine Schatten (1880), Aph. 56 to 96 from the first book of the Morgenröthe (1881), Aph. 108 to 151 from the third book of the gay science (1882) as well as the third (“the religious essence”) and fifth (“on the natural history of morality”) “main part” of Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

Nietzsche saw Luther's Reformation as a " peasant revolt of the spirit" against the high culture of the Renaissance.

In many of these earlier controversies , the points put forward in the Antichrist can already be heard, but they often do not have the unconditional sharpness of the late writing. Nietzsche formulated them there more openly than questions, differentiated or gave arguments for and against certain aspects of religions (e.g. in aphorisms 61 and 62 of Beyond Good and Evil ). Nietzsche formulated some points that are only hinted at here in more detail and more conciliatory elsewhere: for example his criticism of the Reformation in Fröhliche Wissenschaft (1887) or his criticism of Kant and the whole of philosophy, always aiming at the establishment and safeguarding of an allegedly given morality instead of comparing “morals” and their criticism. Nietzsche had already dealt extensively with the psychology of Paul in Der Morgenröthe in 1881 .

There is a particularly close relationship to the work Zur Genealogie der Moral from 1887, both in terms of style and content: Nietzsche assumes, in some passages of the Antichrist, acquaintance with the theories developed there and also refers to it. Particularly important are the first treatise there, in which he develops the opposition of master morality and slave morality (also using the example of Christianity), and parts of the third treatise in which he deals in detail with the topic of asceticism - pessimism - nihilism - decadence. These sections can serve as a theoretical background for some of the accusations pointed out here.


Some reading fruits of other authors can be found in the text. Nietzsche himself points out that in his Psychology of Jesus he deals critically with Ernest Renan's La Vie de Jésus (1863). He had already been interested in the then current research on the life of Jesus and at the age of 20 read David Friedrich Strauss ' Life of Jesus , which he still considered valuable despite all subsequent criticism of Strauss.

Julius Wellhausen's criticism of the Bible found its way into Nietzsche's work.

An important source of Nietzsche's on the history of Judaism was Julius Wellhausen's Prolegomena on the History of Israel (second edition, 1883), to which direct references can be found especially in chapters 25, 26 and 48. Nietzsche also read other works by Wellhausen; they may have generally influenced his position on Judaism and Islam.

Nietzsche's allusions to Dostoyevsky have already been pointed out. Nietzsche discovered the Russian writer for himself late and possibly only read The Demons (in French translation) of his writings , but he certainly found out about his other works. He praised Dostoyevsky's psychological acumen several times.

Tolstoy's conception of true Christianity shaped Nietzsche's image of Jesus.

While Nietzsche's literary acquaintance with Dostoyevsky is evident from his mention in the Antichrist and Ecce homo , it has long been debated whether Nietzsche was also familiar with Tolstoy's writings on religion and Christianity. Today this can be clearly answered in the affirmative, since Nietzsche's notebooks contain a large number of excerpts from Tolstoy's Marriage (1885). (Some of these were earlier included in the Nietzsche archive's compilation Der Wille zur Macht as alleged aphorisms against Nietzsche 's better knowledge .) Especially Nietzsche's interpretation of Jesus apparently owes a lot to Tolstoy's views.

Nietzsche knew the “Law Book of Manu” from a work by Louis Jacolliot , which, however, is considered to be highly unreliable and unscientific. The positive passages about women praised by Nietzsche cannot be found in the originals. Much more problematic and completely untenable is the theory of Jacolliot, which Nietzsche apparently adopted uncritically and which echoes in some places in the Antichrist , according to which the Jewish people consist of descendants of the “outcasts” in Brahmanistic India. See also: Tschandala .

His former professor colleague Jacob Burckhardt was Nietzsche's undisputed authority on questions of art and cultural history , especially with regard to the Renaissance. If Nietzsche raves about the possibility of Cesare Borgia as Pope in Chapter 61, this is modeled on Burckhardt, who in his culture of the Renaissance in Italy (1869) - albeit more with awe than benevolence - also treats this possibility. See also: Renaissanceism .

Nietzsche took the term folie circulaire (Chapter 51) from the study Dégénérescence et criminalité (1888) by the French physician Charles Féré and linked it with the hypotheses of the third treatise in his Genealogy of Morals .

The fact that Nietzsche, as quoted above, portrays the “Protestant pastor” as the “grandfather of German philosophy” is also noteworthy because Nietzsche himself came from a classic pastor family: Nietzsche's father Carl Ludwig Nietzsche and both grandfathers were Protestant pastors, his mother was a pious pietist . Biographical sources have therefore often been sought for Nietzsche's understanding of Christianity.

On the issue of editing

The Antichrist appeared for the first time , with the subtitle Attempt at a Critique of Christianity , at the end of November 1894 (overprint: 1895) in the eighth volume of the first section of the large octave edition , edited by Fritz Koegel on behalf of the Nietzsche Archives . The Antichrist also appeared in all subsequent editions of the archive , but with fluctuating titles and omissions.

Skipped passages

Four parts of the script have been left out in various editions.

The very last paragraph (“And one reckons the time …”) was missing in the first edition, but was restored in the following. However, since today's edition of Insel Verlag follows this first edition, it is also missing here.

The following three passages are missing in all editions of the archive and consequently to this day in those of Alfred Kröner Verlag and Insel Verlag:

In Chapter 29, in the sentence "Spoken with the severity of the physiologist, a completely different word would still be in place: the word idiot", the last three words. The fact that Nietzsche called Jesus an idiot was probably too blasphemous. Rudolf Steiner , who had seen the original manuscript in the 1890s, made this passage known in a lecture in 1924 - without the public noticing it - and again in 1931 by Josef Hofmiller , to whom Köselitz had communicated it. The esoteric Steiner saw an Ahrimanic influence on Nietzsche confirmed in this, Hofmiller wanted to use this "blasphemy" to prove Nietzsche's supposedly long-existing mental illness. The fact that the passage also alludes to Dostoyevsky, as stated , seems to have escaped both those responsible for the censorship in the archive and Steiner and Hofmiller.

In chapter 35, the supposed dialogue ("The words about the thief on the cross [...] you are also a child of God ...") has been removed because Nietzsche mixed up two passages from the Bible ( Lk 23.39–43  LUT and Mt 27.54  LUT Mk 15.39  LUT Lk 23.47  LUT ). Presumably there should be no doubt about Nietzsche's stability in the Bible. Some Bible quotes in chapter 45 have also been tacitly corrected in archive editions. This passage was also first published by Hofmiller in 1931.

Finally, in chapter 38, the manuscript reads “A young prince, at the head of his regiments, splendidly as an expression of the selfishness and self-arrogance of his people - but, without any shame, professing himself to be a Christian!” The word “young” was omitted in order to cover up the allusion to Wilhelm II, who came into office in 1888 at the age of 29. It is possible that “Junge” was printed in the pocket edition (1906), but not in the other editions.

Karl Schlechta restored these passages in his edition (1954 ff.). Originally, the omissions in at least two of the positions could have been made at the request of the publisher in order to avoid legal difficulties ( blasphemy and lese majesty ).

The law against Christianity

The "Law Against Christianity"

In Nietzsche's estate there is a page dated September 30, 1888 ("the wrong calendar") and signed "The Antichrist", which declares the "war of death against vice: [...] Christianity". In seven sentences, partly with ambiguous terms, measures against Christianity and its “anti-nature” (such as the sermon of chastity ) are enacted: Priests are to be isolated from society, they should be “condemned, starved, driven into any kind of desert ". Every participation in a church service is "an assassination attempt on public morality". One should be harder against Protestants than against Catholics, harder against liberals than against devout Protestants; since "the criminality of being a Christian" increases as one approaches science, "the criminal is the criminal [...] consequently the philosopher ". The words "God", "Savior", "Redeemer" and "Saint" should be used as swear words. There is no question that Nietzsche's text was intended, at least temporarily, under the title Law Against Christianity after Section 62 of the Antichrist . Nietzsche's ultimate intentions can no longer be clarified.

It is possible that the “Law against Christianity” was known only to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche and Heinrich Köselitz for a long time and was withheld from the editors until 1932. This year Hans Joachim Mette found it in the Ecce homo cassette while cataloging the holdings of the Nietzsche archive and for the time being did not know what to do with it. Only Erich Podach , who looked through the manuscripts in Weimar in 1960, recognized his original affiliation with The Antichrist and published it in 1961. Pierre Champromis and Walter Arnold Kaufmann raised objections to this and other assignments of Podach . In the now common Critical Complete Edition / Critical Study Edition begun in 1967 , Mazzino Montinari placed the “law” at the end of the Antichrist , albeit with less pressure to point out this lack of clarity. Another text, which Podach assigned to the Antichrist (“The hammer speaks”, an excerpt from Also Spoke Zarathustra ), is only printed here as the end of the twilight of the idols . Montinari gave a detailed justification for this in the commentary volume of the KSA first published in 1980, which - more than 90 years after the writing of the text - is now a generally accepted text for the work.

To the title

"The story of the publication of the Antichrist is the continued effort to hide the decomposition of the revaluation," wrote Podach in 1961. The actual circumstances of its creation are shown above . For a long time, however, the Nietzsche Archives maintained that Nietzsche had written three more books on the revaluation that had been lost through Franz Overbeck's guilt. In support of this defamation campaign (see The Basler “Gegenarchiv” ) a corresponding impression was given in the Antichrist . To this day, Kröner's editions use the title “Revaluation of all values. First book: Der Antichrist. ”And take the preface as the preface of the“ whole ”, supposedly four-volume revaluation . Various editions also use the subtitle "An attempt at a criticism of Christianity" used in the first edition to this day.

Interpretations and reception

Nietzsche's friend Franz Overbeck, professor of church history , was the first reader of the manuscript and gave it a differentiated assessment. The Antichrist is "a monument of a very special kind". He was very impressed by Nietzsche's description of the person Jesus:

"All previous attempts to make a human figure out of him seem ridiculous, abstract and only serve as an illustration of a rationalistic dogmatics alongside Nietzsche's achievement."

He praised “how the human also emerges from the original in the person”. On the other hand, he found many other things "extremely violent" and "of sovereign injustice":

“In particular, Nietzsche's conception of Christianity seems to me to be too political, so to speak, and the equation Christian = anarchist is based on a historically very dubious estimate of what Christianity actually was in the Roman Empire. The 'Buddhist peace movement', which after Nietzsche originally initiated Jesus, seems to me to have remained to a greater extent than Nietzsche assumes, even in Christianity after him, no matter how distorted it may have been. "

Richard Strauss used the title The Antichrist for his Alpine Symphony at times . Strauss valued Nietzsche's philosophy very much and named his symphonic poem Also sprach Zarathustra after Nietzsche's script of the same name.



See Nietzsche edition for general information.

  • The Antichrist can be found in the Critical Complete Edition ( KGW ) founded by Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari
    • Department VI, Volume 3 (together with Der Fall Wagner , Götzen-Dämmerung , Ecce homo , the Dionysus dithyrambs and Nietzsche contra Wagner ), ISBN 978-3-11-002554-5 . A follow-up report , ie critical apparatus, is not yet available.
  • The same text is provided by the Critical Study Edition ( KSA ) in Volume 6 (together with the same other writings by Nietzsche). The volume KSA 6 is also published as a single volume under ISBN 978-3-423-30156-5 . The associated apparatus can be found in the commentary volume ( KSA 14 ), pp. 434–454.
  • The Insel Verlag ( ISBN 978-3-458-32647-2 ) and some other publishers offer separate editions that are the KSA clearly inferior textual criticism. Insel Verlag follows the GAK, so the subtitle is wrong and some passages are missing (see # omitted passages ). Other publishers also use the wrong subtitle “attempt to criticize Christianity”.
  • Mention should be made of the edition of Der Antichrist , Ecce Homo sic and the Dionysos dithyrambs published by Goldmann Verlag with an afterword and comments by Peter Pütz and a bibliography, ISBN 3-442-07511-4 . The text apparently follows the Schlechta edition and is accordingly complete. The law against Christianity is not mentioned, however.

Secondary literature

All major monographs on Nietzsche also deal with The Antichrist , so see the list of literature in the article "Friedrich Nietzsche" . For a detailed bibliography see web links .

  • Andreas Urs Sommer : Friedrich Nietzsche's “The Antichrist”. A philosophical-historical commentary . Schwabe, Basel 2000, ISBN 3-7965-1098-1 . (Voluminous standard work on the text.)

Web links

Individual evidence

Nietzsche's works are cited according to the Critical Study Edition (KSA) .

  1. Ecce homo , Der Fall Wagner, Section 3 (KSA 6, p. 361.)
  2. Now fragment of the estate May – June 1888 17 [4], KSA 13, pp. 523–526; see. KSA 14, p. 440.
  3. This becomes clear from the context: Chapter 31 explicitly states “That strange and sick world into which the Gospels introduce us - a world like something out of a Russian novel, in which there is expectoration of society, nervous disorders and“ childish ”idiocy seem to give a rendezvous [...] One would have to regret that not a Dostoiewsky has lived near this most interesting decadent, I mean someone who just knew how to feel the moving charm of such a mixture of the sublime, the sick and the childish. "( KSA 6, p. 202 f.)
  4. The Antichrist , Chapter 61 (KSA 6, p. 251).
  5. Michael Hertl: The myth of Friedrich Nietzsche and his death masks: optical manifestos of his cult and image quotations in art . Königshausen & Neumann, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8260-3633-0 ( [accessed December 20, 2016]).
  6. Ecce homo , Why I Write Such Good Books, Section 5 (KSA 6, p. 307.)
  7. Ecce homo , Why I Am Fate (KSA 6, pp. 365–374.)
  8. KSA 2, pp. 107-140.
  9. KSA 2, pp. 414-416.
  10. KSA 2, pp. 586-591.
  11. KSA 3, pp. 57-88.
  12. KSA 3, pp. 467-495.
  13. KSA 5, pp. 65–83 and 105–127.
  14. ^ The happy science , fifth book, aphorism 358 "The peasant uprising of the spirit" (KSA 3, pp. 602-605).
  15. cf. for example the “Vorrede” der Morgenröthe from 1886 (KSA 3, pp. 11–17), the aphorisms 186 to 188 of Beyond Good and Evil (KSA 5, pp. 105–110) and Zur Genealogie der Moral , Third Treatise , Section 25 (KSA 5, p. 405).
  16. Morgenröthe , First Book, Aphorism 68 "The First Christ" (KSA 3, pp. 64–68).
  17. On the possibly decisive importance that genealogy had on Nietzsche's new conception of his work at the end of August 1888, cf. KSA 14, pp. 395-399.
  18. On the Genealogy of Morals , First Treatise: "Good and Bad", "Good and Bad" (KSA 5, pp. 257–289).
  19. ^ On the Genealogy of Morals , Third Treatise: What do ascetic ideals mean ?, especially from Section 11 (KSA 5, pp. 361–412).
  20. Erich Podach: Friedrich Nietzsche's works of collapse . Rothe, Heidelberg 1961, p. 67.
  21. This and all the following quotations from the letter to Heinrich Köselitz, March 13, 1889, quoted from KSA 14, p. 441.