Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Antifraternalism and Anticlericalism in the German Reformation: Johann Eberlin Von Gunzburg and the Campaign against the Friars

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Antifraternalism and Anticlericalism in the German Reformation: Johann Eberlin Von Gunzburg and the Campaign against the Friars

Article excerpt

Antifraternalism and Anticlericalism in the German Reformation: Johann Eberlin von Gunzburg and the Campaign against the Friars. By Geoffrey Dipple. [St.Andrews Studies in Reformation History.] (Brookfield,Vermont: Scolar Press,Ashgate Publishing Co. 1996. Pp. x, 244. $74.95.)

Johann Eberlin von Gunzburg was a prolific Protestant pamphleteer, but he has received little attention in recent scholarship. In part this is due to the rather scattered, seemingly incoherent, nature of his writings. However, his work deserves attention for several reasons. In contrast with most other friars who were quite young when they left their order, Eberlin was over fifty years old when he left the Franciscan Order to join the Protestant camp. Further, the Catholic controversialist from the Franciscan Order,Thomas Murner, paid Eberlin the compliment of making his "Fifteen Confederates" a prime target of his attack on Protestant authors.

Dipple' s study offers the reader a thorough review of more than a century of research on Eberlin and the German Franciscans. Prominent among the fruits of this review is the suggestion made in a German dissertation from 1902 that the usual chronology for the writing and publication of the "Fifteen Confederates should be revised. Dipple utilizes this revised chronology in an attempt to create a more coherent understanding of the development of Eberlin's thought.

Two major themes emerge in Dipple's study. First, he focuses on the great antifraternal fusillade of 1523. Having been attacked by the Provincial of the south German Franciscans, Luther intensified his own attack on monastic vows and rallied former Franciscans among his followers to add to the debate.These writings did not merely echo the humanists' critique of the friars' failure to live up to their spiritual ideals; they called these ideals into question. …

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