Lessing's Parable

Friday, 01 May 2009

Nathan the Wise-Which One is the True Religion? is the title of a play written in 1778 by Gotthold Lessing (1729-81), an influential German writer of the Enlightenment era. Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, with Christian crusaders threatening Muslim-controlled Palestine, the play has the Muslim leader Saladin asking Nathan the Wise which is the true religion, so that he too can make his own choice. Nathan replies with a parable. A man in the East once had a priceless ring-so magical that "he who wore it, trusting its strength, was loved of God ...

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