- Das Augustana-Jubiläum von 1830 im Kontext von Kirchenpolitik, Theologie und kirchlichem Leben by Johannes Hund
The looming date of October 31, 2017, marking the 500-year anniversary of Luther's posting of the 95 Theses, has helped launch a series of retrospective accounts of Luther specifically or Protestantism generally. Johannes Hund invites readers to cast their eyes on another, related jubilee, earlier in time but still important for the development of Protestant confessional culture: the 300-year anniversary of the Confessio Augustana (Augsburg Confession), marked across Europe in 1830.
Originally his habilitation thesis at the University of Mainz, Hund's book (translated: The 1830 Jubilee of the Augsburg Confession in the Context of Church Politics, Theology and Ecclesiastical Life) is framed with a discussion of memory studies, drawing on the pioneering work of theorists such as Pierre Nora, Jan Assmann, and others. Many Reformation jubilees have attracted attention in this light, but they have tended to concentrate on the anniversaries connected primarily with Luther—birth and death dates, publication of [End Page 228] the 95 theses, and so forth. Hund's work intends "to contribute to the transfer of the queries raised by historical jubilee research into ecclesiastical and theological history" through an extended focus on the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession (14). Besides its prior neglect, notes Hund, the 1830 celebration warrants consideration given its intriguing place in the "context of the transformation between the early modern and the modern, as well as the German Vormärz" from 1815 to 1848 (15). Straddling boundaries, the jubilee of 1830 carries with it the potential to illuminate ecclesiastical politics, theology, and piety in both antecedent and subsequent eras.
Structurally, the account is divided creatively into seven sections, each exploring how ostensibly the same event, the commemoration of the Augsburg Confession, could take on different meanings: the jubilee of "intellectual/spiritual freedom" (Geistesfreiheit) in the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (Part I); the "pure ecclesiastical jubilee" of Hamburg and the Hanseatic League (Part II); the "neoconfessional jubilee" in Bavaria (Part III); the "united jubilee" in the Prussian province of Saxony (Part IV); the "obstructed jubilee" in the Kingdom of Saxony (Part V); the jubilee beyond the confines of the German Confederation (Part VI); and the jubilee in the broad sweep of religious politics across Europe (Part VII). This design displays a clear sense of historical and intellectual complexity and nuance, and offers a series of fascinating looks from different perspectives at how a host of theologians, church officers, and political leaders all conceived of the Augsburg Confession in their own time and for their own reasons.
Hund suggests that the diversity of approaches to the jubilee can be understood largely in terms of a generational conflict: a tension between a "future-minded optimistic mentality of the older generation" and a subdued, chastened attitude of the younger generation. For the latter, Hund writes, the German Wars of Liberation from Napoleon (1813–1815) caused many to lose faith in the "cultivating power of the Enlightenment" (553). The degree to which one or another generation had prominence in a given region, it seems, could have a significant effect on the kind of jubilee celebration that took place, though more might be said on this point. At the same [End Page 229] time, Hund offers the helpful and surely correct conclusion that the jubilee "exerted a condensing, clarifying, or exaggerating function on the individual theological positions" (553–554). As an event, in other words, the 1830 commemoration crystallized theological notions across the spectrum that were already present in ecclesiastical and political life.
Hund's scope is exceedingly impressive, drawing on archival and printed sources to relate the almost countless commemorative events that took place in expected sites such as the German lands, churches, and universities, but also in some perhaps unexpected locales, including Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Russia, and Sweden. The evidence marshaled is unparalleled and will certainly...