Reforming the Art of Dying: The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519–1528), 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reforming the Art of Dying

The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519–1528), 1st Edition

By Austra Reinis


304 pages

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Hardback: 9780754654391
pub: 2007-02-22
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The Reformation led those who embraced Martin Luther's teachings to revise virtually every aspect of their faith and to reorder their daily lives in view of their new beliefs. Nowhere was this more true than with death. By the beginning of the sixteenth century the Medieval Church had established a sophisticated mechanism for dealing with death and its consequences. The Protestant reformers rejected this new mechanism. To fill the resulting gap and to offer comfort to the dying, they produced new liturgies, new church orders, and new handbooks on dying. This study focuses on the earliest of the Protestant handbooks, beginning with Luther's Sermon on Preparing to Die in 1519 and ending with Jakob Otter's Christlich leben vnd sterben in 1528. It explores how Luther and his colleagues adopted traditional themes and motifs even as they transformed them to accord with their conviction that Christians could be certain of their salvation. It further shows how Luther's colleagues drew not only on his teaching on dying, but also on other writings including his sermons on the sacraments. The study concludes that the assurance of salvation offered in the Protestant handbooks represented a significant departure from traditional teaching on death. By examining the ways in which the themes and teachings of the reformers differed from the late medieval ars moriendi, the book highlights both breaks with tradition and continuities that marked the early Reformation.


’The work fills a gap in the understanding of how a particular area of pastoral care and instruction took on a Reformed shape.’ Anaphora ’… clearly-written and thorough review of a neglected by important genre… a useful study that makes accessible to an English-speaking readership a genre which continued to be of great pastoral significance throughout the years of the early Lutheran Reformation and beyond.’ Ecclesiastical History ’This is a richly documented theological and rhetorical analysis, buttressed by interesting details about biographical and social context, that effectively represents the enthusiasm of these early evangelical theologians of consolation at death.’ Catholic Historical Review ’This is a useful book for both specialists and nonspecialists.’ German Studies Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Between fear and hope: uncertainty of salvation in the late medieval Ars moriendi; Martin Luther’s Eyn Sermon von der bereytung zum sterben (1519); Sermons on preparation for death; Handbooks or manuals for use at the deathbed; Instruction on dying in summaries of reformation teaching; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Austra Reinis is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in the Department of Religious Studies, Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, USA.

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General