The life story and theological writings of Katharina Schütz Zell (1498-1562) present an unusually full picture of an urban lay woman in the Protestant Reformation.
The daughter of an established artisan in the free imperial city of Strasbourg, Katharina Schütz married the reformer Matthew Zell and became a partner in one of the first Protestant ‘clergy couples’. More than a pioneer pastor’s wife, Schütz Zell carried out a lifelong ministry of teaching, writing, and speaking out, as well as the charitable work and hospitality traditionally expected of a woman.
Part one of Volume 1 paints Schütz Zell’s biography in the context of her age, part two explores the main features of her biblical theology and literary activity, giving particular attention to Schütz Zell’s convictions about the ministries of women and laity.
Volume 2 provides access for the first time to the literary corpus of an outstanding lay leader of the early Protestant Reformation, one of the most articulate women authors of her age.
An educated Strasbourg craftswoman and pastor’s wife, Katharina Schütz Zell wrote German fluently.
Her works, some published in her lifetime, others preserved only in manuscript, are remarkable for their time-span (1524-1558) and the range of genres: from devotional, educational, and pastoral text to sermonic literature and theological polemic.
Schütz Zell’s writings reveal a lively mind, considerable Biblical knowledge, and unusual historical gifts. Her practically unknown autograph letter to Caspar Schwenckfeld is particularly important for the new light it sheds on confessionalization in the 1550’s and one woman’s friendly but sturdy intellectual independence.
Elsie Anne McKee, Ph.D. (1982), Princeton Theological Seminary, is (Archibald Alexander) Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship there. A Reformation historian, her books include
John Calvin on the Diaconate and Liturgical Almsgiving (Droz, 1984), and
Elders and the Plural Ministry (Droz, 1988).
This is the magisterial life of Katharina Schütz Zell that we who have been waiting for it were confident it would be. The author's mastery of the sources, meticulous attention to detail, and critical and intuitive if rapt scutiny of the extraordinary woman who is her subject inform every page.' Susan C. Karant-Nunn,
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 2001. '
This work provides an in-depth, scholarly, and eminently readable account of a laywoman who was one of the best-known women advocates of the Reformation in her own day.' Karin Maag,
Calvin Theological Journal. '
...zwei umfangreiche Bände über die Straßburger Laientheologin Katharina Zell (1498-1562) vorgelegt, die zu den bedeutendsten neueren Publikationen aus der Reformationsgeschichte gerechnet werden können.'. Martin H. Jung,
Blätter fur Württ. Kirchengeschichte, 2001. '
The appearance of these volumes is a cause for celebration among students of the Reformation; a gifted historian has turned her attention to the work of a significant but long-neglected reformer….by a thorough, readable presentation of Schütz Zell's biography and theology and in a brilliant edition of virtually the entire corpus of her extant writings, McKee has altered the parameters of Reformation studies.' John L. Farthing,
Religious Studies Review, 2001.
All those interested in Christian history, especially Reformation history and theology, women's studies, social history and popular culture, the history of religious toleration, and early modern German language.