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The Evolution of the Lutheran Pastors' Manual in the Sixteenth Century

  • Amy Nelson Burnett (a1)


Among the many changes brought about by the Reformation, perhaps one of the most obvious was the new image of the Protestant pastor. No longer was he set apart from his parishioners by the privileges of a separate estate or by the requirement of clerical celibacy. His most important functions were preaching and teaching, rather than the administration of the sacraments and other ecclesiastical ceremonies. Although there were clearly continuities between the duties performed by the late medieval priest and the new Protestant pastor, there was also a significant change in emphasis and in the expectations concerning the pastor's duties.



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1. Research for this paper was made possible by a fellowship from the Herzog-August Bibliothek (hereafter HAB) in Wolfenbüttel. I would like to thank the Library for its generous support.

2. For a brief survey of homiletics texts, see Martin, Schian, “Die lutherische Homiletik in der zweiten Hälfte des sechsehnten Jahrhunderts,” Theologische Studien und Kritiken 72 (1899): 6294. Hans-Christoph Rublack provides a tentative list of Postillen published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, “Lutherische Predigt und gesellschaftliche Wirklichkeiten,” in Die Lutherische Konfessionalisierung in Deutschland, ed. Hans-Christoph, Rublack (Güterlsoh: G. Mohn, 1992), 344–95.

3. For an example of the prescriptions found in church ordinances, see Otto Hubert, Kost, “Einzelseelsorge in niedersächsischen Kirchenordnungen des 16. Jahrhunderts,” Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für niedersächsische Kirchengeschichte 69 (1971): 3282.

4. This does not mean that canon law had no influence on Protestant marriage law or legal institutions; on the changing attitude among Lutherans towards canon law, see John, Witte Jr., Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 5385.

5. Examples of theoretical works on the pastorate would include Martin Bucer's Von der waren Seelsorge, published in 1538, and Tileman Heshusen's Vom Ampt und Gewalt der Pfarrherr of 1561. The Unterricht der Visitatoren was, as the title states, written originally for ecclesiastical and secular officials rather than for pastors, although it was later distributed to the territory's pastors; cf. Martin, Luther, Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar: Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1883–) (hereafter WA), 26:175240. Another influential pastoral aid that focused primarily on doctrine was Urbanus Rhegius's Wie man fursichtiglich … von den fuernembsten Artickeln … reden soll, first published as Formulae quadam caute … loquendi in 1535 and reissued frequently through the sixteenth century in both the original and in the German translation; cf. Alfred, Uckely, ed., Urbanus Rhegius, Wie man fürsichtiglich und ohne Ärgernis reden soll von den fürnehmsten Artikeln christlicher Lehre (Formula quaedam caute et citra scandalum loquendi), nach der deutschen Ausgabe von 1536 nebst der Predigtanweisung Herzog Ernst des Bekenners von 1529, Quellen-schriften zur Geschichte des Protestantismus 6 (Leipzig: Deichert, 1908). Viet Dietrich's Agend Büchlein is closer to the genre of pastors' manual, but it differs in content from both the medieval pastors' manual and its Protestant reincarnation; cf. Emil, Sehling, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts, vol. XI: Bayern, 1. Teil, Franken (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1961), 487553, and Bernhard, Klaus, Veil Dietrich: Leben und Werk (Nuremberg: Verein für bayerische Kirchengeschichte, 1958), 206–9, 402–5.

6. The most complete study of Surgant's Manuale is the series of articles by Jürgen, Konzili, “Studien über Johann Ulrich Surgant I–IV,” Zeitschrift für schweizerische Kirchengeschichte 69 (1975): 265309; 70:1–2 (1976): 107–67; 70:3–4 (1976): 308–88; and 71:3–4 (1977): 332–92.

7. Dykema, Peter A., “Conflicting Expectations: Parish Priests in Late Medieval Germany” (Ph.D. diss., University of Arizona, 1998), 118246. Dykema summarizes his findings in “Handbooks for Pastors: Late Medieval Manuals for Parish Priests and Conrad Porta's Pastorale Lutheri (1582),” in Continuity and Change: The Harvest of Late Medieval and Reformation History. Essays Presented to Heiko A. Oberman on his 70th Birthday, eds. Bast, Robert J. and Gow, Andrew C. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000), 143–62.

8. Pastorale. Pfarampt von allen alten superstitionen vnd miβbreuchen/ auch von aller ungegründter newerung gereynigt/ auff eyn Reformation gestelt/ nach der heyligen geschrifft des Göttlichen worts/ vnnd der vätter verstand/ nach der kirchen Regel vnd Exempel. Beyden/geystlichen vnd weltlichen/ nützlich zulesen. (Frankfurt: Egenolff, 1537). I used the copy at HAB: A 385.19 Theol (2).

9. Preface to Graf Ludwig zu Stolberg and Königsteyn (unpaginated).

10. Pastorale, lr–8v, 12r–14r.

11. Pastorale, 14v–16v. To make sure his readers understand his point, he repeats this comparison between a pious and learned layman and an ignorant, immoral, and simoniacal priest two more times.

12. On baptism, 25r; on the Apostles Creed, 29r; on the Eucharist, 42v–44v; on marriage, 50v. By the time Lorich published his Pastorale, there were many different catechisms written by Protestant reformers to teach the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments to the laity, but Catholics were only beginning to produce their own versions; cf. Janz, Denis R., “Catechisms,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ed. Hans, Hillerbrand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 275–80.

13. Pastorale, 5r.

14. Pastorale, llr–llv, 20v–21v, 71r–73v.

15. Pastorale, 35v–36r; cf. 13r–v.

16. August Hardeland discusses the pastoral manuals of Rivius and of Nicolas Hemmingsen (discussed below), in his Geschichte der speciellen Seelsorge in der vorreformatorischen Kirche und der Kirche der Reformation (Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1898), 287–93, but he is concerned with their discussion of pastoral care in general rather than with their significance within the genre of pastor' manuals.

17. De officio Pastorali Ministrorum ecclesiae in pagis Libellus, ijs etiam, qui in Urbibus Evangelion docent, non inutilis (Basel: Oporinus, 1546); Oporinus also published the 1549 and 1562 editions. The 1574 edition was published in Rostock by Jacob Lucius. I used both the 1549 (HAB: H: H 29.8° Helmst [3]) and 1574 editions (HAB: 1164 Theol [2]); page citations are to the latter. For background on Rivius and a brief analysis of this work, see Trümpy, Hans, “Eine Anleitung für protestantische Landpfarrer von 1549,” in Festschrift Mattias Zender, eds. Edith, Ennen and Günter, Wiegelmann (Bonn: Röhr, 1972), 470–78.

18. “Expertus enim loquor”; De officio pastorali, 15–17. Rivius could not have been speaking from his own pastoral experience, since he was not a minister but a schoolteacher and eventually school supervisor in Saxony.

19. De officio pastorali, 27–41. As examples of inflammatory statements, Rivius lists the rejection of free will, or saying that good works had absolutely no value before God, that the just still sinned in every good work, that fasts were completely useless, and that praying frequently and often was hypocritical.

20. De officio pastorali, 41–47.

21. De officio pastorali, 18–22, 64–66.

22. Pastorale Oder Hirtenbuch, Des ehrwirdigen Herrns Erasmi Sarcerij seligers/ Jetzund auff ein newes vbersehen, vnd mit viel andern notwendigen darzu gehörenden vnd nützlichen Büchlein vermehret, Wie aus nachfolgender Vorrede zuvermercken, durch Wilhelmum Sarcerium, Mitdiener der Kirchen Gottes in Eisleben, by Andres, S. (Eisleben: Urbanus Gaubisch, 1562). I consulted HAB H: J 44.2° Helmst.

23. I used both the Leipzig: Voegelianus, 1574 imprint (HAB A: 1164 Theol [1]) and the German translation (Hamburg: Rebenlein, 1639) (HAB: Ts 247 [3]), which is wordier and in a popular style.

24. Pastor, Latin, 76; German, 58v. The allusion to building with the right and tearing down with the left hand derived ultimately from Gregory Nazianzus and was cited by authors of other types of advice books for pastors, such as the homiletics text written by the Rostock professor Simon Pauli; Kaufmann, Thomas, Universität und lutherische Konfessionalisierung: die Rostocker Theologieprofessoren und ihr Beitrag zur theologischen Bildung und kirchlichen Gestaltung im Herzogtum Mecklenburg zwischen 1550 und 1675, Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte 66 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1997), 483, n. 274.

25. Pastor, Latin, 101–9; German, 75–82r; citation on last page of each text.

26. Pastor, Latin, 124–34, 218–29; German, 92r–110v, 164r–173v.

27. Pastor, Latin, 8–14; German, 7r–11v.

28. De Methodis Libri Duo, quorum prior quidem omnium methodorum universalium & particularium, quarum usus est in Phibsophia brevem ac dilucidam declarationem: Posterior vero Ecclesiasten sive methodum theologicam interpretandi, concionandique continet (Wittenberg: Crato, 1559).

29. Pastor, Latin, 148–51; German, 110r–112r.

30. Pastor, Latin, 160–73; German, 119v–131r.

31. Pastor, Latin, 176–84; German, 132v–138v.

32. Pastor, Latin, 187–96, 201–3; German, 116r–147v, 151r–152v.

33. Pastor, Latin, 203–11; German, 152v–158v.

34. Sarcerius's Ein Buch vom heiligen Ehestand was first published in 1553; a second, expanded edition was published three years later, and a third in 1569. Sarcerius included in his Pastorale both Urbanus Rhegius's Wie man fursichtiglich … von den fuernembsten Artickeln … reden soll and Veit Dietrich's Die furnemsten Stück Christlicher Lere. His confirmation liturgy was a modified version of the confirmation order that Martin Bucer wrote for Hesse in 1538; cf. Robert, Stupperich, ed., Martin Bucers Deutsche Schriften (Gütersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1960–), 7:310–14.

35. Pastorale, preface of second edition to Count Hans Georg of Mansfeld (unpaginated).

36. Pastorale, 3v–6v. A simple theme is a single concept (such as “faith”); a composite theme is a proposition created by joining single concepts (“justification is by faith alone”); cf. Sarcerius's example of how to prepare a sermon on “righteousness,” 47r–49r. On the importance of rhetoric and the loci method both for exegeting Scripture and for preaching, see Schnell, Uwe, Die homiletische Theorie Philipp Melanchthons, Arbeiten zur Geschichte und Theologie des Luthertums 20 (Berlin: Lutherisches Verlagshaus, 1968), 1752; on the importance of method in this period, see Gilbert, Neal Ward, Renaissance Concepts of Method (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), 67115.

37. Pastorale, 6v–7v. Several authors of study plans for theologians at about this time recommended the creation of one's own common place book and advised studying a small number of books thoroughly rather than reading a wide variety; for example Hyperius's, Andreade ratione studii theologici (Basel: Oporinus, 1556), 407–73, and Weller, Hieronymus, Ratio Formandi Studij theologici (Nürnberg: Neuber and Montanus, 1565), a5r.

38. Pastorale, 42v–52r; cit. at 42v. For a lengthier discussion of Sarcerius's homiletic advice, see Dyck, Joachim, “The First German Treatise on Homiletics: E. Sarcer's ‘Pastorale’ and Classical Rhetoric,” in Renaissance Eloquence. Studies in the Theory and Practice of Renaissance Rhetoric, ed. Murphy, James J. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 221–37.

39. As mentioned above, the section on ordination was originally a separate treatise included in the second edition of the Pastorale by Wilhelm Sarcerius. For this reason, it differs somewhat in structure, although not in intent, from the discussion of the other ceremonies.

40. Pastorale, 99v.

41. These kinds of questions were also dealt with in late medieval pastors' manuals; Dykema, , “Handbooks,” 147. Significantly, the second edition contains a marginal note from Wilhelm Sarcerius asking the reader not to misunderstand his father's words as if he meant Christ's body was enclosed in the bread “like a thief enclosed in a jail,” but that he wanted to hold the elements in honor, and that Luther and his associates had also given similar advice; Pastorale, 92r.

42. Pastorale, 91r–v.

43. On the training of pre-Reformation clergy and the requirement of a quasi apprenticeship in the diocese of Chur, see Oscar, Vasella, “Über das Problem der Klerusbildung im 16. Jahrhundert,” Mittheilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 58 (1950): 441–56. It should be stressed that in the pre-Reformation church, practical training for the pastorate was not part of, and was therefore distinct from, clerical education in general.

44. Sarcerius stated that it would be ideal for each village to have two pastors, which would be expensive, but which would have been possible if the devil had not used the Reformation to encourage the “robbery” of property from the church, Pastorale, 18v. One of his harshest complaints concerned the theft of church property by nobles who seized monasteries and other ecclesiastical foundations and by peasants who withheld tithes or conveniently forgot the financial obligations they owed the parish church; among his list of problems found during visitations, several concern the poor economic situation of the pastors, no. 14–16 (fo. 148r–150r), and no. 19–20 (fo. 163v–164r). See also Boles, Susan C. (Karant-Nunn), “The Economic Position of the Lutheran Pastors in Ernestine Thuringia, 1521–55,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 63 (1972): 94125. To some extent a modified apprenticeship system continued after the Reformation, for pastoral candidates served as teachers, tutors, domestic secretaries, or held other church- or education-related jobs before being appointed as pastors, but for the most part these young men were neither ordained nor actually performing the tasks of pastoral care as had been the case before the Reformation; Riegg, Ernst, Konfliktbereitschaft und Mobilität. Die protestantischen Geistlichen zwölf süddeutscher Reichstädte zwischen Passauer Vertrag und Restitutionsedikt, Schriften zur südwestdeutschen Landeskunde 43 (Leinfelden: DRW Verlag, 2002), 2948.

45. Porta, Conrad, Pastorale Lvtheri, Das ist, Nutzlicher vnd nötiger Unterricht, von den fürnembsten Stücken zum heiligen Ministerio gehörig, Vnnd richtige Antwort auff mancherley wichtige Fragen, von schweren und gefehrlichen Casibus, so in demselbigen fürfallen mögen (Eisleben: Andreas Petri, 1582). Dykema, “Handbooks,” places Porta's Pastorale in the context of doctrinal controversy between Flacians and Philippists in the county of Mansfeld.

46. Pastorale Lutheri, fo. bb3r–cc3r.

47. Pastorale Lutheri, 21v–27r. The triad of oratio, meditatio, and tentatio as the best way to understand Scripture occurs in Luther's preface to the 1539 Wittenberg edition of his German works, WA 50:658–61; on the influence of Luther's formulation, Nieden, Marcel, “Anfechtung als Thema lutherischer Anweisungsschriften zum Theologiestudium,” in Praxis Pietatis. Beiträge zu Theologie und Frömmigkeit in der Frühen Neuzeit. Festschrift für Wolfgang Sommer, eds. Hans-Jörg, Nieden and Marcel, Nieden (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1999), 83102.

48. Pastorale Lutheri, 27r–38r.

49. Pastorale Lutheri, 67v–98v.

50. Pastorale Lutheri, 348r–360r.

51. Manuale Ministrorum Ecclesiae, Handbuch (Tübingen: Gruppenbach, 1603). I consulted the Leipzig 1604 edition, HAB: S 415 Helmst.

52. Handbuch, preface by Bidembach to Johann Mauritius Bidembach and Johann Hippolytus Brenz, unpaginated.

53. Handbuch, part I, pp. 1–398. The dispositions for the Gospels are usually about one page long; those for the epistles are two pages long.

54. Handbuch, 642.

55. Ibid., 642–721.

56. Ibid., 722–43.

57. Ibid., 744–66.

58. Württemberg's system of pastoral education was perhaps the most effective in all of Lutheran Germany at the end of the sixteenth century; cf. Methuen, Charlotte, “Securing the Reformation through Education: The Duke's Scholarship System of Sixteenth-Century Württemberg,” Sixteenth Century Journal 25:4 (winter 1994): 841–51; Tolley, Bruce, Pastors and Parishioners in Württemberg During the Late Reformation, 1581–1621 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995), 2443; Brecht, Martin, “Konzeptionen der Theologenausbildung,” in Wahrheit und Freiheit. 450 Jahre evangelisches Stift in Tübingen, ed. Friedrich, Hertel (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1986), 2946.

59. While Porta refers to this difficulty, he is here citing Luther, and as is the case throughout his book, it is difficult to distinguish between the circumstances Luther faced during the first decades after the Reformation and those that were common two generations later, in Porta's day.

60. Handbuch, 744–46.

61. On early Reformation anticlericalism, see Goertz, Hans-Jürgen, Pfaffenhass und gross Geschrei. Die reformatorische Bewegungen in Deutschland 1517–1529 (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1987), 5268, and the essays in Dykema, Peter A. and Oberman, Heiko A., eds., Anticlericalism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Studies in Medieval and Reformation Thought 51 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1993).

62. Pastorale, 12r–15r.

63. On the importance of the Protestant clergy's “Sonderbewusstsein,” see Schorn-Schütte, Luise, Evangelische Geistlichkeit in der Frühneuzeit: deren Anteil an der Entfaltung früh-moderner Staatlichkeit und Gesellschaft: dargestellt am Beispiel des Fürstentums Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel und der Stadt Braunschweig. Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte 62 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlaghaus, 1996), 393410.

64. Riegg, makes strikingly clear how important it was for future pastors to find financial support for their studies, Konfliktbereitschaft, 2974.

65. Christian Gottlieb, Jöcher, Allgemeines Gelehrten Lexicon (Leipzig, 1750 ff.; reprint Hildesheim: Olms, 1961), 3:1709. Kaufmann sees a major improvement in the education of Mecklenburg's pastors between the generation entering office between 1556 and 1580, when only slightly more than 40 percent had matriculated at a university, and between 1581 and 1605, when the proportion of pastors who had matriculated jumped to 72 percent, Universität und lutherische Konfessionalisierung, 336–40. Schorn-Schütte also sees a significant increase in the number of clergy with some university education between the “constitutive phase,” which lasted to ca. 1585, and the “consolidation phase,” which succeeded it, Evangelische Geistlichkeit, 159–98; on periodization, 84–91. Likewise, Riegg finds a growing proportion of pastors with a university education in the twelve free imperial cities he studied, Konfliktbereitschaft, 49–51.

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