Miracles and the Protestant Imagination: The Evangelical Wonder Book in Reformation Germany

ISBN : 9780199844661

Philip M. Soergel
256 Pages
162 x 240 mm
Pub date
Feb 2012
Oxford Studies in Historical Theology
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The wonder book was a new genre that appeared in the troubled years following Luther's death in 1546 and the outbreak of religious wars at mid century. Originally conceived as a kind of apocalyptic text intended to interpret the "signs of the times" during this uncertain period, these books were filled with accounts of celestial visions, comets, natural disasters, monstrous births, and other seeming signs and portents, events in which the hand of God was revealed. As the genre developed, Philip Soergel shows, its authors, mostly Lutheran divines, came increasingly to delve into the theology of miracles and the supernatural. Writing for a mostly clerical audience, they hoped to encourage the broad revival of a sense of divine presence in everyday life. Thus, in contrast to generations of scholars who have assumed that the Reformation represented a vital step on the way to the "disenchantment of the world," Soergel's groundbreaking study reveals that German evangelicals were themselves active enchanters.


Chapter One: The Appropriation of Wonders in Sixteenth-Century Germany
Chapter Two: Luther on Miracles
Chapter Three: Nature and the "Signs of the End" in Job Fincel's Wonder Signs
Chapter Four: Caspar Goltwurm on the Rhetoric of Natural Wonders
Chapter Five: The Polemics of Depravity in the Wonder Books of Christoph Irenaeus
Chapter Six: Enduring Models and Changing Tastes at Century's End

About the author: 

Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland.

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