Lay Prophets in Lutheran Europe (c. 1550–1700)


Author: Jürgen Beyer
Lay prophets in Lutheran Europe (c. 1550–1700) is the first transnational study of the phenomenon of angelic apparitions in all Lutheran cultures of early modern Europe. Jürgen Beyer provides evidence for more than 350 cases and analyses the material in various ways: tracing the medieval origins, studying the spread of news about prophets, looking at the performances legitimising their calling, noting their comments on local politics, following the theological debates about prophets, and interpreting the early modern notions of holiness within which prophets operated. A full chronology and bibliography of all cases concludes the volume. Beyer demonstrates that lay prophets were an accepted part of Lutheran culture and places them in their social, political and confessional contexts.

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Jürgen Beyer, Ph.D. (2001, Cambridge University), is senior research fellow at Tartu University Library, Estonia. He has published widely on the cultural history of early modern Lutheranism.
"[F]or specialists the book is most welcome since, besides its thorough exploration of the themes that some early modern Lutheran prophets treated in their works, it also includes a complete catalogue and bibliography of these figures and the printed texts that the messages of each one generated. The book is obviously a treasure trove for those who want to explore further the long afterlife of medieval prophecy in early modern Europe." - Philip. M Soergel, University of Maryland, in: Journal of Ecclesiastical History 70:1 (2019), pp. 185-186.

"In seiner Einleitung nennt B. als einse seiner Hauptziele, »to document the historical existence of Lutheran lay prophets« (27). Dieses Ziel hat er nicht nur erreicht, sondern wirklich den Blick geöffnet auf die überraschend großen Dimensionen eines wenig beachteten Phänomens." - Martin H. Jung, Universität Osnabrück, in Theologische Literaturzeitung 144:3 (2019), 215-217.

" Lay Prophets in Lutheran Europe (...) builds on a survey of printed works and archival records that is stunning in breadth and rigorously transnational, putting to full effect Beyer’s impressive linguistic competence across political borders and language families. (...) By moving prophecy out of the distant medieval past or Pietist margins into the center of Lutheran orthodoxy from the mid-sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries, Beyer’s work has broad implications for European intellectual history." - Jonathan Green, University of North Dakota, in: Renaissance Quarterly 71.2 (2018), pp. 762-764.

"Lay Prophets in Lutheran Europe is a most useful book. The bibliographical research is thorough—the footnotes tend to dwarf the text—and Beyer’s account is followed by a detailed list, attended by exhaustive bibliographies, of the various prophets. This is a valuable contribution to the subject." - Alastair Hamilton, The Warburg Institute, in: Church History, Volume 92, Issue 2 (2017).

All interested in the cultural history of early modern Lutheranism and anyone concerned with prophecy and apparitions.