The Word

Helmut Puff

in The Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations

Published in print December 2016 | ISBN: 9780199646920
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191756757 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Word

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  • European History
  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter argues that, contrary to widespread notions about the Reformation as a period of the Word, the words the Reformers uttered should be considered in their social, cultural, and performative contexts. An analysis of a Protestant church interior, Luther’s Bible translation, and an exploration of the preached Word in Reformation Europe as well as an exploration of the differences within the pro-Reform faction are marshalled to illustrate that what was strikingly novel about the religious communities in this time period was not so much the hegemony of Holy Writ but the ensemble of textual and other media confessional churches instituted to bring communities into a novel age, infused with and inspired by the Word.

Keywords: Anabaptists; art (altar painting); church interior; clergy; Humanism; lay piety; printing; sermons; translations; vernacular

Article.  8567 words. 

Subjects: European History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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