1. The Luth. Reformation* began as a literary movement, to capitalize on the invention of printing. M. Luther* was the most widely read publicist of his time (see Luther, Chief Writings of). His Bible tr. standardized the Ger. language for centuries. The Luth. movement stirred all levels of literature esp. in Ger. and Scand. It produced works for professionals and for the common people.
2. Luther's style was concrete and idiomatic. His preaching was in the tradition of late 15th c. folk preachers, his polemic in the manner of satire current at that time.
3. Some outstanding Ger. literary figures were sons of Luth. pastors. But the influence of popular Luth. literature reached out into the masses. Luther's SC and selected Bible stories formed Ger. and Scand. primers. Standard devotional vols. were the average household library's nucleus. They included prayer books (some large and used for many occasions in family and community life), a hymnal, used for daily and Sunday worship, postils (see Postil) beginning with Luther's, and devotional material written for family use. Beginning in the 17th c., romances with religious content competed for the reading interest of Christian families. In the 19th c., family magazines with religious emphases were developed in Eur. and Am. They often provided pol. comment, fiction, devotional material, and features of gen. interest. With the beginning of special activity in missions and charity fostered by Pietism,* popular books and magazines tried to stimulate interest in and support for these projects.
4. Since Luther's time the chief religious vernacular literature to achieve a high degree of excellence has been the hymn (see Hymnody, Christian). Vernacular worship helped make this possible.
5. The Luth. Ch. has always been aggressive in publishing professional literature. 16th c. doctrinal controversies climaxing in the Confessions (see Lutheran Confessions) produced many doctrinal, exegetic, and polemic writings. In keeping with the humanist emphasis, early literature was predominantly Latin. Ger. and Scand. univs. provided more and more technical material. Orthodoxy (see Lutheran Theology After 1580), Pietism,* Rationalism,* Enlightenment,* and various 19th c. trends produced much exposition, propaganda, and debate. Beginning in the late 18th c., technical journals provided special studies, usually pub. under auspices of theol. faculties.
7. Since the middle of the 19th c. a literature of critical review and restudy of Luth. origins has emerged, stimulated by critical eds. of works of the reformers and scientific hist. studies and resulting in heightened appreciation of the Luth. Reformation (see Luther Renaissance; Luther, Works of, Editions of) extending also through Ref. circles. Stress and questions connected with 20th c. wars and their aftermath led to further reexamination of Luth. thought. RRC
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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