Disputed Devotion on the Deathbed: Lutherans’ Dreams about Death in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

In: An den Rändern des Lebens
Yanan Qizhi
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This article explores the complexity of Lutherans’ dreams about death in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by contextualizing and historicizing several dream narratives in funeral sermons and other devotional writings. Contemporary dream theories acknowledged both the physical and the spiritual dimensions of dreams. Protestant discourses created new conditions for dreaming as a legitimate form of religious experience related to death. Even the rise of Lutheran orthodoxy did not silence all talk about dreams. Instead, reports on divine dreams persisted in funeral sermons and other forms of published works throughout the seventeenth century. Publishing and reading activities further contributed to the emergence of patterns in narrating and interpreting dreams. The historical development of the Lutheran Church and the practical need for everyday devotion provided the foundation for the recording and interpretation of dreams. All in all, by regulating the relationship between the dreamer (the dying) and the dream interpreter (the pastor), as well as by providing registers for devotional norms and imageries, religion played a powerful role in shaping early modern Lutherans’ dreams about death on both discursive and experiential levels.

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An den Rändern des Lebens

Träume vom Sterben und Geborenwerden in den Künsten

Series:  Traum – Wissen – Erzählen, Volume: 5


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