Debating the Sacraments: Print and Authority in the Early Reformation
Debating the Sacraments: Print and Authority in the Early Reformation

Debating the Sacraments: Print and Authority in the Early Reformation

by Amy Nelson Burnett


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In Debating the Sacraments, Amy Nelson Burnett brings together the foundational disputes regarding the baptism and the Lord's Supper that laid the groundwork for the development of two Protestant traditions-Lutheran and Reformed-as well as of dissenting Anabaptist movements. Burnett places these disputes in the context of early print culture, tracing their development in a range of publications and their impact on the wider public. Burnett examines not only the writings of the major reformers, but also the reception of their ideas in the pamphlets of lesser known figures, as well as the role of translators, editors, and printers in exacerbating the conflict among both literate and illiterate audiences.

Following the chronological unfolding of the debates, Burnett observes how specific arguments were formed in the crucible of written critique and pierces several myths that have governed our understanding of the sacramental controversies. She traces the influence of Erasmus on Luther's followers outside of Wittenberg and highlights the critical question of authority, particularly in interpreting the Bible. Erasmus and Luther disagreed not only about the relationship between the material world and spiritual reality but also on biblical hermeneutics and scriptural exegesis. Their disagreements underlay the public debates over baptism and the Lord's Supper that broke out in 1525 and divided the evangelical movement. Erasmus's position would be reflected not only in the views of Ulrich Zwingli and others who shared his orientation toward the sacraments but also in the developing theologies of the Anabaptist movement of the 1520s.

The neglected period of 1525-1529 emerges as a crucial phase of the early Reformation, when evangelical theologies were still developing, and which paved the way for the codification of theological differences in church ordinances, catechisms, and confessions of subsequent decades.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190921187
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 01/17/2019
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 928,755
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Amy Nelson Burnett is Paula and D.B. Varner University Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the author of Karlstadt and the Origins of the Eucharistic Controversy, and she has written extensively on the Swiss and South German Reformation. Her book Teaching the Reformation won the Gerald Strauss prize from the Sixteenth Century Studies and Conference.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Illustrations



Chapter One: Print and the Reformation Crisis of Authority

Part I: Overview, Background, and Beginnings

Chapter Two: Contours of the Printed Debate
Chapter Three: Heresy and Hermeneutics: The Background to the Controversy
Chapter Four: Karlstadt's Challenge to Luther
Chapter Five: The Early Debate in Switzerland

Part II: Exchanges, 1526-1529

Chapter Six: Martin Bucer and Bugenhagen's Psalms Commentary
Chapter Seven: Oecolampadius against the Wittenbergers
Chapter Eight: Undermining Oecolampadius: the Debate with Pirckheimer
Chapter Nine: The Contributions of Zurich and Strasbourg
Chapter Ten: Print, Polemics, and Popular Response in South Germany
Chapter Eleven: The Debate Matures, 1527-1529

Part III: Gradual Developments

Chapter Twelve: The Lord's Supper in Catechetical Literature
Chapter Thirteen: Sacramentarian Diversity
Chapter Fourteen: Reconstituting Authority




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