For † Friedrich Schlegel †

When, in his commentary on G.E. Lessing’s writings, Friedrich Schlegel describes his aim “to characterize the spirit of Lessing as a whole," he evokes the traditional distinction between spirit and letter that had come to form the point of departure for the hermeneutic enterprise, in and beyond biblical exegesis. Yet the meaning that this distinction assumes in Schlegel’s writings, from his earliest studies of Greek and Roman poetry, to his Conversation on Poetry, is not one that would promise interpretive closure of any kind. Instead, the distinction itself and the infinite demands for interpretation that arise from it can be traced to a dynamic particular to writing, which Schlegel outlines in his philological approaches to biblical scripture, Lessing, and poetry. In my contribution, I seek to draw out the implications of Schlegel's scriptural philology, looking back to its biblical precedents and forward to the kind of reading his intervention solicits.