By the end of the fifteenth century, the Eucharist had come to encompass theology, liturgy, art, architecture, and music. In the sixteenth century, each of these dimensions was questioned, challenged, rethought, as western European Christians divided over their central act of worship. This volume offers an introduction to early modern thinking on the Eucharist—as theology, as Christology, as a moment of human and divine communion, as that which the faithful do, as taking place, and as visible and audible. The scholars gathered in this volume speak from a range of disciplines—liturgics, history, history of art, history of theology, philosophy, musicology, and literary theory. The volume thus also brings different methods and approaches, as well as confessional orientations to a consideration of the Eucharist in the Reformation.
Contributors include: Gary Macy, Volker Leppin, Carrie Euler, Nicholas Thompson, Nicholas Wolterstorff, John D. Rempel, James F. Turrell, Robert J. Daly, Isabelle Brian, Thomas Schattauer, Raymond A. Mentzer, Michele Zelinsky Hanson, Jaime Lara, Andrew Spicer, Achim Timmermann, Birgit Ulrike Münch, Andreas Gormans, Alexander J. Fisher, Regina M. Schwartz, and Christopher Wild.
Reading Catechisms, Teaching Religion makes two broad arguments. First, the sixteenth century witnessed a fundamental transformation in Christians’, Catholic and Evangelical, conceptualization of the nature of knowledge of Christianity and the media through which that knowledge was articulated and communicated. Christians had shared a sense that knowledge might come through visions, images, liturgy; catechisms taught that knowledge of ‘Christianity’ began with texts printed on a page. Second, codicil catechisms sought not simply to dissolve the material distinction between codex and person, but to teach catechumens to see specific words together as texts. The pages of catechisms were visual—they confound precisely that constructed modern bipolarity, word/image, or, conversely, that modern bipolarity obscures what sixteenth-century catechisms sought to do.
The liturgy took place. To say that is to set the liturgy in specific architectural structures, spatial arrangements, configurations of visual images, as well as in specific human communities with unique traditions of devotional practices. In this essay, the Lutheran liturgy is "set" in two towns, Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which were geographically and linguistically close. These two towns, however, had different devotional practices, different visual settings for the liturgy, different preachers and differing paces of reform. The article explores the implications of those differences for the meaning of the liturgy within each town. In so doing, it posits possible reconstructions of the liturgy as it might have been experienced, the liturgy not simply as text, but as a ritual, in which image, gesture, and spoken or sung word all participated in the performance and the meaning it conveyed.