Academic journal article German Quarterly

Das Karlstadt-Bild in der Forschung

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Das Karlstadt-Bild in der Forschung

Article excerpt

Kessler, Martin. Das Karlstadt-Bild in der Forschung. Beiträge zur historischen theologie 174. tübingen: Mohr siebeck, 2014. xVi + 594 pp. euro124.00 (hardcover).

History has not been fair to andreas Bodenstein von karlstadt. as professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg in the 1510s, he was Martin luther's close collaborator and supporter. By the early 1520s, however, the two men disagreed on fundamental theological issues and their ramifications for religious praxis. luther's characterization of karlstadt as ambitious, arrogant, and theologically wrong-headed dominated reformation scholarship into the early twentieth century, and the first work to challenge it initiated a major debate among reformation historians. only in the last generation have scholars come to appreciate karlstadt's significance, especially for the early reformation.

Martin kessler was associated with the team producing a critical edition of karlstadt's works while he was writing this historiography of karlstadt research, and his study lays the groundwork for the editorial project. the book traces the depiction of karlstadt from the sixteenth century to the present, with its major focus on the background to and controversy touched off by Hermann Barge's two-volume karlstadt biography published in 1905. Barge rejected the older view of karlstadt based on his extensive and careful study of both published works and unpublished sources, but his book generated attacks from church historians who criticized him for misinterpreting luther and wrongly magnifying karlstadt's importance. kessler's historiography is in some respects as much about Barge as it is about karlstadt, which reflects the fundamental importance and long-term influence of his biography.

Although there is a very short chapter surveying works on karlstadt published before 1800, kessler focuses on publications of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He presents the small number of nineteenth-century treatments of karlstadt as the backdrop that highlights the significance of Barge's work. important, too, is the immediate context of his karlstadt biography: it was published only shortly after the negative portrayal of the early luther by the Catholic scholar Heinrich Denifle and a few years before the Je- suit Hartmann Grisar's equally negative biography. …

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