The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany

Overview

In The Reformation of Feeling, Susan Karant-Nunn looks beyond and beneath the formal doctrinal and moral demands of the Reformation in Germany to examine the emotional tenor of the programs that the emerging creeds-revised Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism/Reformed theology-developed for their members. As revealed by the surviving sermons from this period, preaching clergy of each faith both explicitly and implicitly provided their listeners with distinct models of a mood to be cultivated. To encourage ...

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The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany

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Overview

In The Reformation of Feeling, Susan Karant-Nunn looks beyond and beneath the formal doctrinal and moral demands of the Reformation in Germany to examine the emotional tenor of the programs that the emerging creeds-revised Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism/Reformed theology-developed for their members. As revealed by the surviving sermons from this period, preaching clergy of each faith both explicitly and implicitly provided their listeners with distinct models of a mood to be cultivated. To encourage their parishioners to make an emotional investment in their faith, all three drew upon rhetorical elements that were already present in late medieval Catholicism and elevated them into confessional touchstones.

Looking at archival materials containing direct references to feeling, Karant-Nunn focuses on treatments of death and sermons on the Passion. She amplifies these sources with considerations of the decorative, liturgical, musical, and disciplinary changes that ecclesiastical leaders introduced during the period from the late fifteenth to the end of the seventeenth century. Within individual sermons, Karant-Nunn also examines topical elements-including Jews at the crucifixion, the Virgin Mary's voluminous weeping below the Cross, and struggles against competing denominations-that were intended to arouse particular kinds of sentiment. Finally, she discusses surviving testimony from the laity in order to assess at least some Christians' reception of these lessons on proper devotional feeling.

This book is exceptional in its presentation of a cultural rather than theological or behavioral study of the broader movement to remake Christianity. As Karant-Nunn conclusively demonstrates, in the eyes of the Reformation's formative personalities strict adherence to doctrine and upright demeanor did not constitute an adequate piety. The truly devout had to engage their hearts in their faith.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Karant-Nunn is one of the first to take up the challenge of the 'history of emotions' and delineate the emotional cultures of Catholicism and Protestantism which have left such deep traces in our cultures right up to the present day. She shows the insidious anti-Semitism that went along with Passion sermons: the more preachers stressed Christ's suffering, the more they incited hatred of the 'Jesus killers.' By taking the feelings of anger, hatred and envy seriously, she is able to avoid the sentimentality which can come from stressing only the virtues of love and charity, and so provides the most convincing account of emotions in history that I have read."

— Lyndal Roper, Fellow and Tutor in History, Balliol College Oxford

"Reformation history meets the new history of emotions in this pioneering study. Susan Karant-Nunn not only sheds new light on a host of debates among scholars of the European reformations but she further illuminates a crucial stage in the evolution of emotional regimes in the history of the West."

— Ulrike Strasser, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Irvine

"After having devoured this engrossing and magisterial study, one truly must wonder why Susan Karant-Nunn is the first to take up the topic of the emotional cultures that emerged from the various Reform movements. Meticulously researched and superbly synthesized, The Reformation of Feeling is a landmark study in Reformation Studies-a stepping stone to a cultural history of the Reformation."

— Helmut Puff, Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan

"A valiant, even daring, expedition into the spiritual world underneath the theological debates, colloquies, political schemes, wars, and treaties that in the past have filled the pages of most histories of the German reformation."—The Catholic Historical Review

"Karant-Nunn offers an immensely valuable model of how to reflect on spectrums of attitude within each faith and change as much as continuities over time."—Ulinka Rublack, St. John's College, Cambridge University

"In this learned study of Passion sermons in Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist communities, Karant-Nunn makes an important contribution to the study of homiletics and spiritual experience in the history of Christianity."—Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195399738
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan C. Karant-Nunn is Professor of History and Director, Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies, University of Arizona

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Table of Contents

1 The emotions in early-modern Catholicism 15

2 The Lutheran churches 63

3 The Reformed churches 101

4 Condemnation of the Jews 133

5 The mother stood at the foot of the cross : Mary's suffering as incentive to feel 159

6 Proper feelings in and around the death-bed 189

7 The formation of religious sensibilities : the reception of recommendations for proper feeling 215

8 The religious emotions : conclusions 245

Notes 257

Index 330

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