Das "Ärgernis" der Reformation: Begriffsgeschichtlicher Zugang zu einer biblisch legitimierten politischen Ethikby Beat Hodler (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 83, Number 2, April 1997
- pp. 326-327
- View Citation
- Additional Information
326BOOK REVIEWS Early Modern European Das "Ärgernis"der Reformation:Begriffsgeschichtlicher Zugang zu einer biblisch legitimierten politischen Ethik. By Beat Hodler. [Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für europäische Geschichte Mainz. AbteUung Religionsgeschichte ,Band 158.] (Mainz:Verlag PhUipp von Zabern. 1995. Pp.vü, 208. DM 68.00.) This is a revised doctoral dissertation directed by Peter BUckle at the University of Bern, Switzerland. It investigates the various uses of the term Ärgernis, ranging from Martin Luther's Anfechtung to the generic "scandal" (from the Greek "skandalon") or "discord" (from the Latin "discordia"). Part I analyzes the general uses of"scandal" as a bibUcal, sociological, and theological concept. Part II elaborates the phUological, poUtical, and theological meaning ofÄrgernis in the Reformation, concentrating on Luther, non-Lutheran movements, especiaUy the "radical Reformation," and on church discipline as weU as polemics. Luther, for example, was viewed as scandal personified; and the most radical reformer of the sixteenth century,Thomas Müntzer, regarded the whole world as scandalous and thus in need ofa radical redemption. Part III deals with expUcit teachings grounded Ui Ärgernis in Germany, France, and Italy. FinaUy, the use ofthe concept in the Reformation is compared with its use in the mainstream of medieval (Thomism) and some post-Reformation theologians extending to the eighteenth century. The findings ofthis detaUed study point to three kinds of"scandal doctrines" in the Reformation: First, the phUological notion that something is changing for the worse (derived from the German arg); here reformers use the image of the bibUcal "stunning stone" (e.g., Rom. 9:32) as the hindrance to salvation, often linked with the image of the spider sucking only poison from a rose.Then, the ethical notion that many Roman Catholic requirements (e.g., fasting, indulgences ) become a scandal for faith and morals. FinaUy, the theological notion that scandal is an inevitable offense of human sin before God; thus the emergence of scandal in the Christian life is a sure sign that one is on the way to salvation (e.g., Paul's view that the cross of Christ is a scandal, I Cor. 1 :23). This is a useful study because of its meticulous analysis of a widely used concept in the Reformation. Moreover, the extensive bibliography and an index of names and places enhance the value of this study. But the study faUs short in achieving what its subtitle promises: to provide an access to a poUtical ethic that is historically grounded and bibUcaUy legitimized.The extensive research itself shows how differentiated the use of Ärgernis is in the Reformation and how difficult it is to derive a "political ethic" from such use.This difficulty becomes apparent in the author's conclusion that the problem Ergernis [sic] is reflected in a whole series of teachings which describe the proper use of Christian freedom in the field of tension between "love of neighbour" and BOOK REVIEWS327 faith." The study stiU needs to show how central a"poUtical ethic" is in this field of tension. Eric W Gritsch Baltimore, Maryland Conflicting Visions of Reform: German Lay Propaganda Pamphlets, 15191530 . By Miriam Usher Chrisman. [Studies in German Histories.] (Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996. Pp. xiü, 288. $60.00.) More than 5,000 pamphlets were pubUshed in the Holy Roman Empire between 1519 and 1530; they have become avaUable, over the past two decades, in several microfiche and printed editions for historians of the Reformation. Close to half of aU pamphlets pubUshed represented the works of Martin Luther; many more were penned by lesser reformers and their detractors; and only 294 pamphlets clearly stemmed from lay provenance, as Chrisman's meticulous examination of the material reveals. Focusing on this substantial sample of lay pamphlets (which constitutes nonetheless only 5.8% of aU Reformation pamphlets produced), Chrisman sets out to "first place the lay pamphlets in the social and intellectual context m which they were written, and second to demonstrate how the ideas of the Reformation were changed and adapted as they were transmitted to different ranks m the social hierarchy" (p. 14). She succeeds better in her first aim than her second . Using a formalistic analysis, Chrisman classifies her database by the pamphleteers ' social...