The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety: Essays by Berndt Hamm

The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety: Essays by Berndt Hamm

The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety: Essays by Berndt Hamm

The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety: Essays by Berndt Hamm

Synopsis

This book comprises the first major collection of articles in English translation by University of Erlangen Professor Dr. Berndt Hamm, one of the most important and innovative scholars of the intellectual history of late-medieval and Reformation Germany. The articles herein trace the evolution of Christian theology and piety from the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries, employing a variety of disciplines and interpretative models to chart transformations with extraordinary attention to historical context. Hamm's intensive work with previously unknown sermon collections, devotional works, and pastoral care manuals from the later middle ages serves as the basis for a new appraisal of the lines of continuity and change between that era and the German Reformation.

Excerpt

The essays in this volume have been translated and collected in order to make more accessible to readers of English the work of Berndt Hamm, Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Erlangen, long recognized as one of the most important and original scholars at work on the religious history of Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany. As the chapters below make abundantly clear, the range and diversity of his scholarship do not easily lend themselves to summary. Nevertheless, the reader approaching his work for the first time may be helped by advance knowledge of recurring themes related to the question of continuity and change across those conceptual epochs known as the Middle Ages and the Reformation, especially (though not exclusively) as it relates to theology and religious life. Thus the title of this volume.

This is an intellectual project with which Hamm has been absorbed from the beginning of his scholarly career, and his intensive engagement with an ever-growing diversity of sources has yielded a harvest that is both rich and substantive. Two of the terms he has developed have passed into general usage in the scholarly literature, and both merit particular attention here as they serve as foundations for the rest of the collection. Frömmigkeitstheologie is Hamm's designation for a genre of late-medieval writing and praxis, much of it derived from and directed toward pastoral care, which was especially concerned with the pursuit of an authentic Christian life as defined by the values and institutions of the day. Literally but inadequately translated as the "theology of piety", the term appears in that form in the pages below, together with several synonyms that have been pressed into service to help carry the weight of its nuances. Thus the reader will also encounter "devotional" or "pastoral" theology and/or piety. Such are the limits of language. Why the later Middle Ages should give rise to an abundance of such literature is of course another question. Hamm has sought to answer it by identifying and analyzing a process at work in the 14th–16th centuries, which he has termed Normative Zentrierung: the centering or concentration of social, religious, political and cultural norms.

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