Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany

Susan Karant-Nunn

Research output: Book/ReportBook

153 Scopus citations


The Reformation of Feeling looks beyond and beneath the formal doctrinal and moral demands of the Reformation in Germany in order to examine the emotional tenor of the programs that the emerging creeds-revised Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism/Reformed theology-developed for their members. As revealed by the surviving sermons from this period, preaching clergy of each faith both explicitly and implicitly provided their listeners with distinct models of a mood to be cultivated. To encourage their parishioners to make an emotional investment in their faith, all three drew upon rhetorical elements that were already present in late medieval Catholicism and elevated them into confessional touchstones. Looking at archival materials containing direct references to feeling, this book focuses on treatments of death and sermons on the Passion. It amplifies these sources with considerations of the decorative, liturgical, musical, and disciplinary changes that ecclesiastical leaders introduced during the period from the late fifteenth to the end of the sventeenth century. Within individual sermons, it also examines topical elements-including Jews at the crucifixion, the Virgin Mary's voluminous weeping below the Cross, and struggles against competing denominations-which were intended to arouse particular kinds of sentiment. Finally, it discusses surviving testimony from the laity in order to assess at least some Christians' reception of these lessons on proper devotional feeling. This book presents a cultural rather than theological or behavioral study of the broader movement to remake Christianity. As it demonstrates, in the eyes of the Reformation's formative personalities, strict adherence to doctrine and upright demeanor did not constitute an adequate piety. The truly devout had to engage their hearts in their faith.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages336
ISBN (Electronic)9780199777198
ISBN (Print)9780195399738
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Calvinism
  • Crucifixion
  • Ecclesiastical leaders
  • Lutheranism
  • Parishioners
  • Preaching clergy
  • Reformation in germany
  • Reformed theology
  • Revised catholicism
  • Sermons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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