Hartmut Lehmann, ed. Glaubenswelt und Lebenswelten: Geschichte des Pietismus, Bd. 4. ttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2004. xvii + 710 pp. EUR 86.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-525-55349-7.
Reviewed by Douglas Shantz (Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary)
Published on H-German (March, 2006)
The Anthropological Turn: Pietism as the Reluctant Midwife to Modernity
In this fourth and final volume of Geschichte des Pietismus, editor Hartmut Lehmann offers a systematic and thematic examination of pietism as a many-faceted world of faith and life, and considers its impact upon modern German intellectual, social and cultural life. Lehmann describes the volume as a "handbook" that illuminates the role and significance of pietism within its larger world. He admits that on many issues contributors can offer no definitive statements because of insufficient research. This admission is confirmed by the relative lack of archival research in evidence in many of the contributions. There is a self-conscious tone to the book as scholars reflect on the current state of research, and the institutions, organizations and conferences that have nurtured and promoted pietism scholarship. Lehmann sets the stage with his essays on "The History of Pietism Research" and "Problems and Tasks of Pietism Research." Rounding out the volume is an essay by Gerhard Schäfer on the Historical Commission for Pietism Research and its origins and work. It is Lehmann's hope that these essays will reflect the state of Pietism scholarship, set an agenda for the field and stimulate research well into the future.
The book's contributors follow Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch in treating pietism as a progressive movement, a key factor in opening the way to capitalism and the modern world. Lehmann identifies the unifying argument of the volume in terms of "the important role of pietism in the context of the spiritual, political, cultural, ethical and social transformations since the seventeenth century, and thereby its influence on the beginnings of the world of today" (p. 15). This perspective is opposed to Ritschl's view of pietism as a reactionary form of monasticism that introduced Catholic elements into Protestantism (p. 4).
Following Lehmann's historiographical introduction, the volume is divided into three main sections: theological, religious and historical aspects; intellectual and cultural aspects; and ethical, social, economic and political aspects. Under these three headings, the authors of some twenty-five chapters discuss the following topics: pietist historical perspectives and hopes for better times (Ulrich Gäbler); conversion and new birth (Markus Matthias); piety and prayer (Johannes Wallmann); pietism in relation to the Bible (Martin Brecht); the hymn book (Christian Bunners); the Jews (Wallmann); mission (Hermann Wellenreuther); tradition-building (Manfred Jakubowski-Tiessen); pastors and theologians (Brecht); philosophy (Walter Sparn); pedagogy (Werner Loch); psychology (Horst Gundlach); medicine and pharmacy (Richard Toellner); natural science and technology (Thomas Müller-Bahlke); literature and semantics (both by Hans-Jürgen Schrader); music (Christian Bunners); architecture and art (Jan Harasimowicz); community (Hartmut Lehmann); marriage and the family (Andreas Gestrich); women (Ruth Albrecht); business (Gestrich); economics (Peter Kriedte); social work (Udo Sträter); and politics (Rudolf von Thadden). Most of these contributors are well-known in the field of scholarship on pietism.
This review will focus upon some of the most notable chapters--those on history and chiliasm in pietism by Gäbler, on conversion and regeneration by Matthias, on the Jews by Wallmann, on philosophy by Sparn, on pedagogy by Loch, on women by Albrecht and on politics by von Thadden. Gäbler notes that pietism highlighted a theme the Reformation tradition emphatically rejected: hopes for better times and for the kingdom of God on earth (p. 19). Reformers such as Luther were marked by expectation of the imminent return of Christ, the final judgment and the end of history. It was Philipp Jakob Spener's achievement, in a unique and surprising fashion, to "clear the way for long term, inner worldly effort" within history, asserting the possibility of real progress in church and society (p. 25). Johanna Eleonora and Johann Wilhelm Petersen took Spener's notions to an extreme of systematic precision. They found biblical evidence that Christ's earthly kingdom was at the door, preceded by a closely determined timeline of events. The Petersens' idea of progress bears comparison with notions to be found in Leibniz, especially with regard to the notion of historical development. With Gottfried Arnold and Johann Albrecht Bengel, one finds the beginnings of an Enlightenment approach to history evidenced by their critical use of sources, attempt at impartiality, and concern for the place of the individual in human history (p. 33).
Markus Matthias finds precedent in seventeenth-century English Puritanism for the pietist focus upon the individual, sanctification and separation from an evil world, and "free" separatist churches of visible saints. Pietism's "rich unfolding of the new birth theology and its reflection upon true Christian living cannot be understood without the background tradition of Puritanism" (pp. 53-54). Pietists took up the Puritan tradition of writing spiritual autobiographies--a practice designed to assure believers of their personal conversion and experience of grace.
Matthias criticizes the widely accepted notion that Halle pietism was shaped by August Hermann Francke's own conversion experience and autobiographical account. Francke never intended his experience to become the norm; his account reflects the Erfurt period of his life when he was shaped by the Puritan narrative tradition and its emphasis upon a tangible conversion experience (p. 58). (Matthias suggests that this traditional idea--that Halle pietism required a normative conversion--owes less to scholarly research than to contemporary anti-Halle polemics.) What did characterize Halle pietism was its "Busskampf theology," which called for: a confrontation with the old Adam through recognition of sin, one's inability and God's righteous anger; prayers for deliverance; justification through Christ; and a continual change of will. But Francke demanded no strict psychological conformity to some scheme of repentance. Only after 1730 did a stereotypical conversion become the mark of Halle believers. Matthias suggests that the demand for a normative "breakthrough" experience in Busskampf result in disappointment, anxiety, depression or estrangement among some disciples (pp. 61-62). This Halle conversion theology was especially influential in Brandenburg-Prussia where conversion and new birth became a requirement for appointment to pastoral and school offices--resulting in a form of pietist confessionalization (p. 67).
In his chapter on pietism and the Jews, Wallmann shows that belief in a conversion of the Jews was a hallmark of pietism, rooted in Spener's expressed hopes in Pia Desideria. For Wallmann, there "is no pietism for whom hope for the salvation of Israel plays no role; no pietism that would concur with the opinion of the older Luther and many Orthodox theologians that the promised conversion of the Jews in Romans 11:25f ... was already fulfilled" (p. 145). While the orthodox looked to the later Luther (after 1526), who had given up hope for the conversion of Israel, pietists pointed to the Kirchenpostille of the younger, friendlier Luther in defending their view. Gottfried Arnold's impartial standpoint included not only various Christian groups but also the Jews. In 1706 an impartial Christian-Jewish Bible appeared, the Biblia Pentapla, edited by an Arnold disciple. It included a Jewish German translation of the Hebrew Bible by Rabbi Joseph Josel of Witzenhausen. In Halle, Francke himself was no great promoter of mission to the Jews. It was Johann Heinrich Callenberg who in 1728 independently founded the Institutum Judaicum, the first German Protestant mission to the Jews (pp. 151, 154-155). Thanks to pietist influence, Luther's later anti-Jewish writings were all but forgotten within German Protestantism, a situation lasting right up to the beginning of the Third Reich. Karl Holl, the Luther Renaissance and even Dietrich Bonhoeffer appear totally ignorant of the antagonism toward the Jews expressed by the elder Luther.
Walter Sparn notes that recent scholarship offers a "more differentiated" view of the connections between pietism and philosophy now that scholars have finally set aside the notion of modern philosophy as a steady progress towards Hegelian idealism (p. 229). Sparn makes four observations on the relationship between pietism and philosophy. First, the notion of philosophy as the handmaiden of theology remained strong within pietism. Second, it is clear that eighteenth-century German philosophy took up certain themes from pietist spirituality. Pietism prepared the way for the "anthropological turn" in Enlightenment thought around mid-century in figures such as Leibniz and Kant. "The media [of intensive individual piety], such as diaries, letters and autobiographies, had a positive impact not only in literature at the time but also in pedagogy, empirical psychology and in philosophy" (p. 251). Third, and probably of greatest significance, is the influence of pietist biblical interpretation upon philosophical hermeneutics. Due to the pietist notion that only the converted Christian could discover the true spiritual sense of Scripture, the reader's subjectivity was given a much more important role in hermeneutical understanding. Finally, Pietist theosophical thought, influenced by Jakob Böhme and J.G. Gichtel and represented by Gottfried Arnold, Friedrich Christoph Oetinger and his disciples, passed on certain "impulses" to the wider philosophical world (pp. 253, 255).
In his chapter on pietism and pedagogy, Werner Loch argues that pietist theology gave greater priority to ethics and pedagogy than to dogmatics. The nurture of children and youth was "the fundamental task," so that "the children of God, disposed toward sin and hoping for heaven, might be preserved ... from the world's contaminating influences and enabled to take on the image of Christ in the world" (p. 265). Francke's foundations were essentially a collection of schools--a Schulstadt (p. 267). Student life alternated between instruction and worship. Daily life was regulated in every respect from morning to evening, with no allowance for play or free time.
In Francke's day, the profession of educator was not yet fully independent of the clerical calling; many clergymen began their careers as schoolteachers. For Francke, the teacher's task consisted first of all in pastoral care. In the pietist tradition the teacher was mainly a religion teacher who focused on teaching catechism and Bible. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the primary preparation for teachers was the study of theology (p. 271). Only the truly converted could be good teachers, for only they could rely upon God for help in overcoming pupils' stubbornness and self-will. The goal of the teacher was to instill in pupils "true godliness" and "Christian wisdom," the latter informed by a fundamental mistrust of the world (pp. 273, 277).
Pietist thinkers such as Francke, Johann Reinhard Hedinger, Friedrich Eberhard Collins and Paul Eugen Layritz produced a series of impressive treatises on education. Loch points to a pressing need for scholars to examine these various contributions to a pedagogy of faith and to contrast them with the Enlightenment pedagogy of reason. Modern education is largely the product of this tension and interaction between pietism and Enlightenment, exemplified in conflicts between Francke and Christian Thomasius (p. 268).
In her contribution on pietism and women. Ruth Albrecht notes that from the movement's seventeenth-century beginnings, church authorities were concerned about women's involvement (p. 527). Despite the key role women played in pietism, scholars have only recently begun to study pietism and women. Albrecht sums up the state of research with three observations. First, scholars are recognizing more women as key figures within pietism, but hardly ever employ methods of gender history. Second, a few studies (by Barbara Hoffmann, Jutta Taege-Bizer and Ulrike Witt) make use of a women's history methodology to illumine specific cases of women who exercised a degree of independent initiative. Third, some recent studies present "strong and pious women" as models of devotion for believers today, but without use of critical historical methodology. It still remains to investigate pietist women's individual personalities, writings, readership and support networks (p. 523). Hardly any studies exist of less prominent women who were active in the movement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Moravian archives in Herrnhut and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offer rich biographical source materials for researching the lives of ordinary women (pp. 533-534). Women involved in the founding of various nineteenth and twentieth century Diakonie missions also invite further research.
Von Thadden's piece on pietism and politics raises some pressing contemporary concerns as indicated in the title, "Pietismus zwischen Weltferne und Staatstreue" (p. 646). Thadden discusses the politics of Pietist community circles (pietistische Gemeinschaftskreise) under Kaiser Wilhelm, during the Weimar Republic and under the Third Reich. Despite the efforts of Walter Michaelis in the 1930s to bring the Gemeinschaftsbewegung onto the side of the Confessing Church, "the relation of the Gemeinschaftsleute to the political reality of the Third Reich remained largely undisturbed" (p. 657). "Similar to the majority of 'Church Christians,' they still held to notions of unthinking loyalty to the state and fatherland ... Critical political reflection was scarcely to be heard from them" (p. 657). Likewise after the war, there was among these pietists "no word of political guilt for their part in the rise of National Socialism." Their relation to the world and politics still remains "the central problem" for German pietists (pp. 658, 660).
Also relevant to the question of pietism and the Third Reich is Richard Toellner's discussion of pietism and medicine. Toellner offers a particularly sobering examination of pietist doctors during the Third Reich. Like other German elites, these physicians were generally monarchist, antidemocratic, militaristic, nationalistic and antisemitic. Instead of protecting the weak, sick, handicapped and helpless, they readily delivered them to their deaths. "How far their behavior was determined by their Christian faith and their ethos as physicians has yet to be investigated" (p. 353).
This volume represents a great accomplishment, reflecting the years invested by Lehmann and the contributors in its conceptualization, planning and execution. One of the volume's main achievements is the way it reveals the relative youth and immaturity of the field, even by traditional scholarly standards. There are still no critical editions available for the works of Spener, Francke, Arnold, Graf von Zinzendorf, Johann Albrecht Bengel, Oetinger and other leading figures. Social and gender history have as yet had relatively little impact. The fact remains that unlike many other fields of church history, the field of pietism is still dominated by theologians whose interests remain theological, not social, cultural or political.
Some minor criticisms can be made. Despite the work's wide-ranging nature, some will still lament the topics left out, such as pietism in relation to autobiography, universities, death and dying, suicide, war and ritual. There is only minimal, scattered use of non-German scholarship; references to Howard Hotson's fine work on millennialism in Alsted and Leibniz are missing. Markus Matthias refers to work by Hans Schneider dealing with free churches and toleration, but there is no such contribution included in the volume (pp. 53, 72 n. 33). The work has a person index but no subject or scripture index. Finally, apart from the chapter on art and architecture, no illustrations or maps are included.
There is no doubt, in the end, that Lehmann's hopes for the volume have been realized. It provides an impressive portrait of the life world of pietism given the present state of research, and sets an agenda that will occupy scholars for many years to come.
. Two concluding sections discuss the continuing significance of pietism and the work of the Historical Commission for Pietism Research.
. See Douglas H. Shantz, "Pietism and Suicide," presented at the Second International Congress on Pietism Research" in Halle, August 30, 2005.
. See Gäbler, p. 44 n. 20. Gäbler mentions works by Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann and Johannes Kramer, but neglects Hotson's two studies: Alsted and Leibniz: on God: The Magistrate and the Millennium (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1999) and Johann Heinrich Alsted 1588-1638: Between Renaissance, Reformation and Universal Reform (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
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Douglas Shantz. Review of Lehmann, Hartmut, ed., Glaubenswelt und Lebenswelten: Geschichte des Pietismus, Bd. 4.
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