- Begeisterung und Ernüchterung in christlicher Vollkommenheit. Pietistiche Selbst- und Weltwahrnehmungen im ausgehenden 17. Jahrhundert
In this fine monograph, Ryoko Mori examines the rapid spread of the Pietist movement in Germany during the late 1680s and early 1690s. The broad contours of this period, which Mori dubs as the "second wave" of Pietism, are generally well-known and have often been treated as part of the early history of August Hermann Francke and Francke's Pietist foundations in Halle. Drawing a clear line between Halle Pietism and the period that immediately preceded it, Mori employs extensive archival research to focus attention on the ways that laymen and -women became involved in the Pietist movement and how they perceived the new religious movement. In doing so, Mori raises important questions for understanding religion and the individual in the seventeenth century.
Mori's identifies the inception of this "second wave" of Pietism with the conventicle movement in Leipzig that developed during the late 1680s. Inspired by Spener's understanding of the collegia pietatis, August Hermann Francke and others instituted small devotional groups for the study of scripture, drawing considerable lay interest from washerwomen and cobblers to theology students. Mori argues that these conventicles, which paid close attention to individual spiritual development and an active faith, represent an important shift in religion away from the institutional church toward the individual.
The fervor of the conventicle movement in Leipzig alarmed the clergy and the civil authorities, and they moved to repress it in 1690, forcing many of its leaders and student enthusiasts out of the city. One of the most striking aspects of Mori's work is the way she chronicles the spread of the conventicle movement from there into other parts of central and northern Germany. In a series of superb maps, Mori depicts the origins of the second wave of Pietism in Germany and its diffusion, as adherents of the Leipzig movement spread conventicle practices and Pietist ideas throughout Germany. Conventicles, Mori argues, were constitutive of this second wave, and as they developed elsewhere, she chronicles new emphases within them on regeneration and the possibility of Christian perfection.
At the same time that the conventicles gained popularity and drew ever more lay adherents, the opponents of the new movement became more vocal and vehement in their criticisms. Under these fraught conditions, Mori describes the radicalization of these small groups, in which visions and ecstatic utterances of lay participants took center stage. Initially, these "extraordinary events," as the revelations and prophecies became known, served to confirm the Pietists in their positions and signal a new in-breaking of the spirit. Johann Wilhelm Petersen and other Pietist theologians seized on them as guarantors of the truth of their message. Mori devotes considerable analysis to the content of these revelations and the ways in which they illustrate the growing self-awareness of lay Pietists, especially among women in the movement. [End Page 208]
The revelations and ecstatic experiences from Erfurt to Lübeck in the early 1690s mark the apex of this second wave of Pietism, and Mori convincingly shows how the younger leaders of the movement — including Francke — at first avidly embraced these "inspired" lay prophets. The prophets and their visions were highly volatile commodities, however. Some prophecies soon proved to be false. Others turned increasingly ominous, predicting divine retribution against their opponents and hostile civil authorities. Mori argues that the conventicles and their visionaries, once essential for the spread of the movement, now became a liability to the Pietist leaders. She chronicles their decline as a characteristic of a new phase of sober reassessment that signaled the end of the second wave and minimized the importance of visions and direct revelation. Among radical Pietists, this manifested itself as a new emphasis on conscience and individual autonomy. In contrast, a schematic understanding of spiritual development emerged in the institutional Pietism of Halle, which led to a new emphasis on self...