Monday, March 07, 2011

Luther a Book Publishing Phenomenon

For those hoping to gain insight into the Reformation from a different perspective, I warmly recommend Andrew Pettegree's The Book in the Renaissance. Although the entire book is worth reading, the middle section on Luther is especially intriguing. It draws attention to how Luther as a publishing phenomenon didn't just have theological and ecclesiological significance--he changed the economic landscape of Wittenberg and Germany and the publishing industry.

"The ultimate success of Lutheran and Anglican churches in building religious consciousness relied less on treatises and controversy than on catechisms, domestic religious observance, and the patient ordered regularity of congregational worship. Nothing demonstrates this more emphatically than the quintessential innovation of the Lutheran worship tradition, the hymnal... A striking testimony to the value of this domestic hymn singing comes in Paul Eber, "Singing hymns at home, combined with patient explanation, could do more good than a lengthy and carefully prepared sermon; an astonishing statement from one of the Lutheran Church's indefatigable preaching ministers" (223-224).

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