Twentieth-century studies highlighted Luther’s extensive use of historical argument and his doctrine of God’s presence in and guidance of history, even though he doubted human ability to interpret his presence precisely. Luther knew classical and European history well and drew parallels with contemporary events in making theological arguments. History is the field on which God and Satan are locked in eschatological conflict. Luther urged instruction in history for secondary education.
Russell L. Friedman
In one of the most moving acts of his reign, when Charlemagne decided to collect a great library to build up the palace school of his court in Aachen, he did so first by bringing over from England a person, Alcuin of York. Alcuin in turn collected a group of scholars about him, to form the palace school and thus to create the palace library. Of course they brought books with them, but mostly they brought their learning, stored away in the treasuries of their memories. In doing so, Charlemagne, wittingly or not, was realizing an antique and early Christian trope (and reality) that one finds articulated in Jerome and in Cassiodorus, among others — that of the learned person as a living library, one who makes for him- or herself a mental chest of memorized texts and materials, which are then always ready as a reference and meditation tool. Two questions at once present themselves. Most intriguing perhaps is how one might go about making oneself into a library (whether of Christ or not). But this question depends on a prior one: why would want to make oneself into a library? The bulk of this article is concerned with the question of how, but it first addresses the question of why. A common explanation of ‘why>’ is that oral societies rely on memory because they lack access to writing and written sources.
Samuel M. Powell
Ruth Mazo Karras
This chapter examines three ways in which ideas about reproduction loomed large in medieval Christian culture: its relation to ideas about sexuality and nature, the somewhat overlapping topic of its relation to the sacrament of marriage, and the use of fictive parenthood or reproductive metaphors in Christian thought. Medieval Judaism is used as a point of comparison to highlight what is, or is not, distinctive about Christianity. The chapter argues that although virginity and celibacy got a great deal of literary attention, reproduction was the expectation for most medieval people and a tension about its value shaped their world. The period from 1100 to 1500 is the main focus but earlier writings, especially those of St Augustine, were highly influential.
The arrival of Christianity in the Americas and its long-term development throughout the colonial era were closely connected to questions of time—whether the human experience and manipulation of time, the crafting of historical memory, or the imagining of potential futures. Exploring classic and recent scholarship on the colonial era, this chapter considers some of the ways that the history of Christianity in early Latin America is also a history of time. This chapter focuses on the viceroyalty of New Spain—Central Mexico in particular—but also makes some references to scholarship from other parts of Spanish America. The centering of attention on time starts a productive dialogue within the historiography on early Latin American Christianity—a conversation that steps beyond a tired debate about the relative “Europeanness” or “indigeneity” of post-conquest cultures, focusing, instead, on unique ways of being that emerged out of the remarkable convergence of intellectual traditions and cultural practices in the colonial world.
Timothy J. Wengert
Luther’s reform efforts met success because of support from the team gathered in Wittenberg and beyond that carried out various aspects of reform. Luther’s Wittenberg colleagues, Philip Melanchthon, Johannes Bugenhagen, Justus Jonas, Caspar Cruciger, and Georg Major each played crucial roles in spreading Luther’s message and introducing his reforms. Book dedications, correspondence, common memoranda, etc. demonstrate this teamwork. Melanchthon’s support included diplomatic efforts, pioneering work in many academic fields, including biblical commentary and rhetoric and dialectic. Bugenhagen led institutionalization of reform in many lands and towns. Jonas translated his colleagues’ works. Cruciger edited Luther’s treatises; Major authored biblical commentaries. The entire Wittenberg circle led Luther’s Reformation.