- Piety and Family in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of Steven Ozment
For the past four decades Steven Ozment has been one of the most prolific and influential scholars in Reformation history. First at Yale and then at Harvard, he has served as Doktorvater for numerous budding scholars, including editors Marc Forster and Benjamin Kaplan and the nine other authors who have contributed to this impressive festschrift.
Paralleling Ozment's own shift in research interests, this volume is divided into two parts, with essays dedicated, respectively, to Reformation theology and to the spiritual life of families. Eric Lund's examination of Lutherans' selective use of the ideas of the fourteenth-century mystic Johannes Tauler provides important insight to the Reformation in medieval perspective, so important to the early scholarship of Ozment. Comparing Luther with Spiritualists such as Caspard [End Page 927] Schwenckfeld and Sebastian Franck, Emmet McLaughlin makes the case that Luther's concept of the Spirit was more revolutionary than theirs because he rejected a Platonic dualism of spirit/matter. Ronald Rittgers reexamines Ozment's claim that many late medieval German burghers viewed private confession as burdensome and that Luther's rejection of confession greatly heightened evangelical Protestantism's appeal. On the basis of pamphlets written by laymen, Rittgers finds that while penance was not central to criticism of Catholic piety, many lay writers did manifest a strong aversion to confessing their sins to a priest. Further research is needed to determine how representative Rittgers's Nuremberg sources were. Carlos Eire offers a very useful and entertaining study of the devil in Luther's Table Talk. Eire persuasively shows that Luther was convinced that Satan not only tempted believers to sin but also haunted their consciences and viewed passing gas and other scatological insults as an important means of showing one's contempt for the devil.
Beginning with the publication of When Fathers Ruled, Ozment has authored numerous books on the history of the family, and those who studied under him from the 1980s on have reflected this shift away from research on theology proper, clearly seen in the essays in part 2. Among these is Forster's fine piece, which shows that the Jesuits and other Catholic leaders, such as Protestants, actively promoted domestic piety. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, Catholic leaders encouraged the recitation of the rosary at home but deemphasized family devotions after 1650, as Baroque Catholicism stressed pilgrimages and other communal practices. Kaplan studies mixed marriages in the Netherlands, the most religiously pluralistic country in Europe. Notwithstanding opposition from religious leaders of various persuasions, such marriages were not uncommon, nurturing an "integrationist" toleration in the Netherlands, unparalleled elsewhere, which ran contrary to authorities' goal of strengthening confessional identify among coreligionists. Quite interesting is Lance Gabriel Lazar's study of catechumen houses, which were established in many Italian cities to facilitate the conversions of Jews and Muslims to Christianity by providing religious instruction and financial support (apprenticeships for males and dowries for females) before attempting to integrate them fully into the Christian community. Laura Smoller traces the rise and fall of so-called "holy mothers," women who enjoyed spiritual authority over male and female followers. First appearing in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, holy mothers enjoyed their greatest prestige in the late Middle Ages, when the canonization of females also peaked, but declined in the post-Tridentine era when Church leaders prescribed obedience and the cloister for women with a religious calling. R. Po-chia Hsia provides an interesting microhistory of a bitter conflict among Jews over the alleged seduction of a maid by her master, a case in which abortion and the suborning of witnesses were also suspected. When the dispute could not be settled within the Jewish community, the defendant appealed to an imperial court, which ruled against him.
Festschrifts often consist of works that fall well below the caliber of articles...