Academic journal article German Quarterly

The German Reformation

Academic journal article German Quarterly

The German Reformation

Article excerpt

Dixon, Scott C., ed. The German Reformation. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.288 pp. $26.95 paperback.

As Dixon formulates in his introduction, the traditional narrative structure underlying the history of the Reformation is that of heroic struggle-the struggle of Martin Luther and other leading reformers against the Catholic church, their ultimate rejection of Catholicism, and the subsequent emergence of the Protestant confession. The nine articles in this volume by prominent Reformation scholars (including Dixon's wide-ranging introduction, which stands as an article in its own right) propose in a variety of different and interesting ways that the Reformation needs to be seen more widely as a movement that was, as Dixon states, "bound and shaped by the culture in which it was broadcast" (3). Corresponding to the aim of the Blackwell series-to introduce students to the range of scholarly debate in a given subject area-Dixon has brought together and presented, in English, seminal articles in Reformation research, the majority of which first appeared in German in the 1980s and 1990s. These articles deal with questions that will be of great interest to teachers and students of the early modern period and, given the volume's focus on Germany, particularly to those in German Studies. What were some of the basic similarities in the doctrinal views of the reformers? How was the Reformation preached in German cities? How was the Reformation involved in the formation of new popular, confessional, and communal identities in the early modern period? In what ways did the Reformation succeed, and in what ways did it not? The subject matter is made more accessible by means of brief introductions by the editor to each of the latter eight articles in the volume, which highlight their major points and broader scholarly significance.

With regard to doctrinal similarities among the leading Protestant figures, the issue of justification predictably receives the greatest amount of attention, particularly in the article of Berndt Hamm, which lays out the fundamental differences on this point between scholastic and reformist theologians. Bernd Moeller's survey of thirty-two urban sermons from the early years of the Reformation shows remarkable and instructive agreement on many basic points, ranging from justification (exclusively on the grounds of faith in Christ), to shared mystical elements, to opposition to the monastic life and the cult of images. …

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