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The Peasants and the Word of God: the Failed Popular Reformation of 1525: A Social-Linguistic Approach

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The Peasants’ and the Word of God: The Failed Popular Reformation of 1525

A Social-Linguistic Approach

(from the title page)

A Research Paper for the Special Comprehensive Requirements
March 31, 1997
Submitted by Peter D.S. Krey

For Graduate Theological Union
Area  II: History of Christianity

Doctoral Committee

Chair: Prof. Christopher Ocker,
San Francisco Theological Seminary

Prof. Timothy Lull, President,
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Prof. Thomas A. Brady, Jr., University of California

Prof. Jane Strohl, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary


The Peasants’ and the Word of God: The Failed Popular Reformation of 1525

A Social-Linguistic Approach


This study intends to investigate the significance of several words, with their modifiers, reoccurring continually in the documents left by the Peasants’ War of 1525. “Clear and pure Gospel,” or “Word of God, [required] without addition of human teaching,” call attention to themselves. They even appear in the first of the famous Twelve Articles of the Peasants of Upper Swabia:

“The elected pastor should preach to us the holy gospel purely and clearly, without human additions or human doctrines or precepts.”[1]

In the first of the articles that the peasants swore to each other, in the formation of their Christian Union in Memmingen, the term, “Word of God,” is also included:

“First we desire men of skill and understanding in holy Scripture to preach and teach us the holy Gospel and the Word of God, purely and clearly, with all its fruits and without the addition of human teaching.”[2]

In addition, the word, “gospel” comes up eleven times in the Twelve Articles alone; the words, “Scripture, Holy Writ, Bible,” come up ten times, and the “Word of God,” seven times, not to mention the sixty Scriptural citations in the margins![3] Sebastian Lotzer, a furrier who wrote them, and Pr. Christoph Schappeler, were certainly trying to fasten these articles to the Scriptures. Counting words is a rather superficial exercise, but it does indicate that these are key words. They underscore the way Peter Blickle now writes about this event, not merely as a social-political “Revolution of 1525,” but as the “Popular Reformation” that escalated into the “Peasants’ War.”[4]

Using a social linguistic approach is designed not to allow this study to take a myopic point of view, which focuses only on language. Luther cites Hilary making this point: “For meaning must be sought in the reason for speaking and does not lie in the words alone.[5] Thus the social implications of the words will be held in view. For example, Luther and Erasmus make an exegetical issue of the clarity of Scripture.[6] The social implication of the “clear” gospel in the peasants’ usage would mean that the mediation of the priests was no longer necessary, because the laity could now understand Scripture for themselves.[7] Its authority would replace that of the ecclesiastical magisterium, a shift with unfathomable social consequence. Luther’s forceful translation of the Scriptures from Latin into the language of the common people underscored these convictions.

Space does not permit a full discussion of this social linguistic methodology, and therefore, it is provided in an addendum. This approach, however, includes a new paradigm, that seems to reflect such a shift in the Reformation. Following G. Lindbeck, religion is understood like a language. Such language shaped new social realities and not only reflected them.[8] Luther’s powerful dictum, “For the Word of God comes whenever it comes, to change and renew the world.[9] reflects that mode of language. But it will be important to see whether the documents mention this aspect of the Word of God or imply it, rather than imposing [this dynamic concept of the word] upon them, if it is not there.

Tom Scott and Bob Scribner’s work, called The German Peasants‘ War: A History in Documents,[10] provides a representative translation of the programmatic documents of the peasants. Throughout these pages, I will use this primary source to analyze the terms in question, i.e., “the clear and pure Gospel,” and “Word of God without addition of human teaching.”  Because space does not permit differentiation of meanings in the many strands and localities in which the Peasants’ War took place, it will be necessary to take a general view. But strings of words, allusions to tracts, and extra-linguistic evidence can help to point out whether the Word of God is being understood from Luther’s, Zwingli’s, a more radical perspective, or even one of the peasants’ own or of the common man’s own perspective that they held independently of the others.

To give some illustrations already: a string of words usually entails: “To stand by and protect (carry out) the divine Word and holy Gospel and righteousness (justice),“[11] and never the string: “Law and Gospel,” or “Word and Sacrament.” The latter are associated with Luther and almost exclude reference to temporal rule and secular affairs, while the former, “Word, Gospel, and justice,” are a thrust directly at them. Allusions in the first of the Twelve Articles point to Luther’s Leisnig tract and his tract “On Avoiding Human Teaching.” The distinction, however, he makes between divine and human teaching is a recurrent theme in many of his tracts 1522-1526.

To provide an extra-lingual example: the banners [like flags carried before troops marching in formation] are interesting and are known to be very important to the different forces. When the Klettgau peasants hoist the colors of Zürich, blue and white, instead of the Austrian white, red, and black in January 1525, the Word of God has definitely become associated with Zwingli’s sense of Scripture and godly law.(25,115)(i.e., Scribner and Scott, pages 25, 115.)

Most of the places, in which “Gospel” and “Word of God” occur, are followed by references to the Old and New Testament. Only once are they followed by “according to the teachings of St. Paul.”(Michael Gaismair in the Tyrol revolt)(78). With this word string the peasants tend to equate the “Word of God” or “Gospel” with the Scriptures, which is antithetical to Luther. But, at the same time, Luther placed these Scriptures into their hands.[12] Common people who were only half literate struggled to read the New Testament and argued faith issues with masters and doctors of theology.[13] The peasants memorized tracts by singing them, and of course, in a trip to Nuremberg, the coveted evangelical preaching could be heard and  the new belief could penetrate into the oral culture of the peasantry.

After considering Luther’s two tracts, to which the first of the Twelve Articles alludes, and the submission of the peasants to the Word of God, and the relationship of Latin and German, this study will present language that is more or less adequate from the documents. To explain: George Lindbeck notes that a religion is like a language, and adherents learn to interpret and experience themselves in its terms. He notes that for Christians, these terms derive from the story of Jesus, and the history of Israel. (Indeed Schappeler starts the Twelve Articles’ preface with the latter, and the third article, concerning the redemption of the serfs, is certainly imbued in the story of the former.) Reading Luther’s translation of the New Testament or hearing it read or preached to them, gave the peasants the opportunity to interpret and experience themselves and their community, their tithes and dues, their serfdom, their relationship with their magistrates, lords, bishops, and abbots, in short, their whole world, in the terms Lindbeck theorizes. Reading the documents, the language was not equally adequate to this criterium.[14] Often the terms seem like a slogan. In other documents, there is an astonishing command of the language and even word-play.

Secondly, the language was congruent with integral religion in the Popular Reformation component, but became dissonant in the Peasants’ War component into which this reformation escalated.[15] For integral religion the language needs to be homologous[16] with social formation and behavior. An army mustered is a social formation not consonant with the Gospel, from Luther’s standpoint, because what can only transpire through grace, and not by human hand,[17] is actually attempted by a military campaign. For the most part, the peasants would have negotiated – and who can deny they needed to protect themselves? – while the ecclesiastical and secular lords, for the most part, did not negotiate in good faith, but merely bided their time, until they could muster sufficient force to slaughter easily defeated peasants in a military solution.

Two Luther Tracts

The peasants would not have had to learn to sing the Leisnig pamphlet, from hearing it read aloud, to spread its contents among their number.[18] That their whole community ought to have the right and power to elect, appoint, and dismiss pastors who behave improperly, is right in Luther’s title: “THAT A CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY OR CONGREGATION HAS THE RIGHT AND POWER TO JUDGE ALL TEACHINGS AND TO CALL, APPOINT, AND DISMISS TEACHERS, ESTABLISHED AND PROVEN BY SCRIPTURE[19] (1523). If they had sung and memorized the contents of this tract, they would have heard this introductory paragraph:

To quote: First, it is necessary to know where and what the Christian congregation is,[20] so that men do not engage in human affairs (as the non-Christians were accustomed to do) in the name of the Christian Congregation. The sure mark by which the Christian Congregation can be recognized is that the pure gospel is preached there. For just as the banner of an army is the sure sign by which one can know what kind of lord and army have taken to the field, so, too, the gospel is a sure sign by which one knows where Christ and his army are encamped. We have the sure promise of this from Isaiah 55 [:10-11], “My word” (says God) “that goes forth from my mouth shall not return empty to me; rather, as the rain falls from heaven to earth, making it fruitful, so shall my word also accomplish everything for which I sent it.” Thus we are certain that there must be Christians wherever the gospel is, no matter how few and how sinful and weak they may be. Likewise, where the gospel is absent and human teachings rule, there no Christians live but only pagans, no matter how numerous they are and how holy and upright their life may be.[21] End of quote.

The peasants may have ridden rough-shod over the detail that Luther spoke of the “banner of the gospel” and “Christian armies taking to the field” – figuratively. But they were now actually so assembled. And they felt they were depending on the Word of God, and not human teachings. They quite literally followed banners with the “Word of God” and the name, “Jesus Christ,” upon them.[22] With the Isaiah passage concerning rain and harvests so strikingly fitting for them, Luther was veritably planting the Word of God among them. But notice that the numbers concerned, and strength and weakness mentioned in this passage, are now ominously reversed. (The Christian is not a rare bird here, but a throng laying claim to the name.) And because of the military formation of the peasants, Luther will say they, too, misuse the Christian name.

Luther’s tract, “On Avoiding Human Teaching,[23] is an exegetical study of the contrast of human teaching with the Word of God and explains the puzzling phrase, “without the addition of human teaching.” (Whether the peasants followed Luther’s meaning will need to be determined.) To use a word play, consciously chosen for the social linguistic nature of this study: by this phrase, Luther means his “canon” of the Scripture to which nothing can be added. Naturally, “canon” refers to those Scriptures recognized and ratified by the church or council. It can also mean a “regulative decree,” a “church law,” as in canon law. Or it can mean the church lawyer, as in “canons” living on benefices. But Luther, who has burned the canon law with the bull of his excommunication, starts from scratch and means very clear commands in the New Testament, to which consciences are bound. But human teaching, he argues, contradicts these commands with laws about externals like food, clothing, celebration of days, location (that a monk not be permitted out of his cell), celibacy (elsewhere), images in churches, etc. to which consciences may not be bound. Human teaching is forbidden to reestablish the laws which Christ annulled. According to Luther, monasteries rest on human teachings, on an addition to the Word of God!,[24] (Thus, note that in this formula is hidden the rationale for what Heiko Oberman calls the Peasants’ War, i.e., the “cloisterkrieg!” i.e., a war against the monasteries.[25]) because their orders are oriented around these externals. Nothing is wrong with human teachings, except if they imprison and side-track Christians by binding their consciences, which robs them of their Christian freedom. To reintroduce the word play, then, other writing is good, but it is not to be considered “canon,” that is, a rule or standard.

Thus Luther’s tracts certainly inform the first article of the Twelve. The second article is a different story. Never does Luther claim that the Scripture frees the peasants from the small or large tithe, nor claim that dues, like the small tithe may be an “addition” to Scripture.[26] That exegesis was made of Matthew 23:23, where Jesus names the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, because they care more about gathering in their tithes of mint, dill, and cumin rather than the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith.  But Luther would approach this treacherous issue through persuasion via the community of faith, rather than direct action. The peasants, however, could not make such a distinction between taxes and tithes quite so easily if they were under a prince-bishop, or under the abbot of a monastery, in Kempten, for example.

The peasants certainly submitted to the authority of Scripture i.e., as Popular Reformation.[27] Their articles became like an authoritative blue print for the structure of society. If an article agreed with the blue print, it obtained, if not the article fell, along with their practices, social advantages or disadvantages attached. In their words from the twelfth article conclusion:

“If any one or more of these articles are not in agreement with God’s Word (which we doubt), then this should be proved to us from Holy Writ. We will abandon it, when this is proved from the Bible.[28]

The conception behind this idea of the gospel is a legal one. The sense of the gospel in which grace brings about change and bears fruit, as presented by Luther in the Isaiah passage of the Leisnig tract, and emphasized in his Eight Invocavit Sermons,[29] which quelled the Wittenberg disturbances, is not in this gospel conception. Instead of the persuasive, converting, and communicative power of the language, a legal and direct action approach spreads from Zürich, in which iconoclastic riots become the stepping stones to plunder of monasteries.[30]

In his writing, “On Avoiding Human Teaching,” Luther’s language is so strong it could be considered like depth charges which blew the monasteries out of the water. But not by human hand. He insulted the image-stormers roundly: they soiled the camp of the Reformation, and God had to teach them the decency of burying their droppings outside the camp.[31] His reaction to the plunder and destruction of monasteries is the wrath of a prophet.

In terms of the revolutionary social implications of Luther’s translation of the New Testament into the nascent common language, this corpus of documents delivers insufficient material.[32] It records that Hubmaier in Waldshut is charged with the offense of preaching the Gospel in German in the procession of Corpus Christi in 1524.(120) An insult leveled at the macaronic Latin of the priests is also included in Shappeler’s description of corruption of the clergy of Memmingen:[33] common men and women knew the meaning of the gospel and the priests did not, the time had come for the laity to confess the clergy, and the priests had deteriorated to “filthy rogues who preached a gruel of kitchen Latin.[34]

On what he calls an intra-language, endoglossic level,[35] Peter von Polenz analyzes the sophisticated way Luther alienated the conceptual system of the papalists, labeling their usage “strange speech,” (Rotwelsch or Küdderwelsch), and asserting that it functioned to obscure the reality of things, to hide the truth from the people.[36] Language of the nobility could also be contorted and obscure, while the burghers wanted direct, clear, and concise language. Not only with macaronic in mind, Schappeler is to have said: “God be praised the truth has now come to light after having for so long been repressed by the priests for their own purposes.” – according to a complaint by a Procurator Fiscal.(101)

These examples indicate a resistance on the side of the old believers to give up elite, ecclesiastical and academic language, as well as the attack on that language from the side of the Popular Reformation. But the attack is also aimed at the mixture of German and Latin in the preaching of an uneducated clergy. Finally the vantage-point of clear, forceful, and dramatic German represented by Luther and clear evangelical common language preaching of the gospel represented by Schappeler, produce a new light in which the old language can be criticized. Now the gospel is “clear” because the tracts, Scripture, and the preaching are in a vernacular the common people can understand. That was not to the liking of the old order, which was convinced that only heresy would be the outcome.

The impression received reading these documents, that some of the language is far more adequate than other language, derives from the social linguistic methodology of this study. The presupposition that a language event experienced creates a greater command of the language in the hearers or readers,[37] or those encountered and addressed by the Word, seems to allow Luther’s version of the Word of God as a language initiative in persuasion, encounter, and conversion to take precedence over one that is basically already legal. It is very significant that Luther’s dialectic, Law and Gospel, never comes up, but only gospel as godly law. A legal gospel is somewhat transcended in places in the Merano Articles, articles over which Michael Gaismair probably had some influence.(86) The referent of the Gospel becomes the common good, brotherly love, and equality, but it issues into godly law and judicial affairs,[38] while the Luther version of the gospel as promise is never understood clearly.[39] That makes the sense of Luther’s gospel different from the one found in these documents.

The most concise peasants’ formula of their conception is found in the Molscheim Articles:

“To stand by the gospel and protect (carry out) the divine Word and holy Gospel and Righteousness (justice).”[40]

The stress here is completely on the shoulders of the hearers, on human responsibility, without the carrying power of what Luther understood as the Gospel. [They, therefore, laid the emphasis on human agency instead of the divine agency through the word.]

One usage of the term, “Word of God,” stood out as a polar opposite to what Luther meant by it, again from the Merano Articles, numbers 3 and 4. This is the context: Monks have just recently entered their calling to the chagrin of the authors of the articles. “They shall be provided food and drink, and remain in a house until they die off.” “They should be told that they are subject to the Word of God, and should observe it.”(88)

To be “subject to the Word of God” is not at all to allow it to function persuasively, to have it instruct consciences [in Luther’s sense]. A pensive Franconian nobleman writes how future rebellion can be avoided: “No one should be forced into belief; God wants a willing heart.”(210) This sentiment is very different from such a sense of a sovereign word. Persuasion through language is displaced by being subjected to a king, becoming an object of a ruler’s will. God’s Word, certainly also reflects that majesty, but not like that of the Lords of the world, who lord it over their subjects. [God’s working through the word] means being moved by One closer than the closest friend, and a Leader dying for the love and well being of his “subjects.” The Salzburg Articles to follow make this distinction between genuine and corrupt government better.[41]

But the Merano Articles also contain more adequate language. Here is a more positive version of the peasants’ gospel:

“all matters turn on self interest and not the common good….And so that the Word of God may be preached without any self interested additive, brotherly love be preserved, and the common good enhanced, we desire….”(87)

The additive here is greed or self-interest. That can be reversed into a “canon,” i.e., a standard of selfless sharing and participation in the common weal. That is far more adequate than to name tithes or taxes “additives.” The latter is too concrete and leaves no room for rational discriminating judgment.

Language becomes very powerful in the Twenty-Four Articles of Salzburg. A powerful indictment of the old order and its injustices is made here – as seen in the “mirror of the holy Gospel.”(105) Note how the articles avoid slogans: “The thieves and tyrants are so stubborn they will not turn to God and the divine evangelical truth.” This “fire of greed cannot be quenched other than by the Mouth of God.” The “poor common folk” are “hunted [and caught] in their money net with violent coercion.”(105) And the genuine way to govern:

“[The authorities] have not held before their eyes what God commanded and ordained in the Old and New Testaments, to judge the mass of men justly, to serve them truly and to protect and rule them well.”(106)

This language explains what the peasants themselves mean by the Word of God – what God commanded and ordained in the Old and New Testaments.

The command of the language even proceeds to word-play:

“So the ‘groundless’ (i.e., without ground) call themselves ‘Lords of the ground,’ i.e., landlords, and have invented a prodigious robbery [of the people].”[42]

On the other side, those who blamed the rebellion and the misfortune it brought to the land on the gospel, coined the word, “Evan-hellical.” From English it is possible to see the word, “hell” inserted, but in German the word inserted means “plague” or “damage.” (303)

This Merano and Salzburg language stands in sharp contrast to these important terms used as slogans. The Word of God was placed on banners. Then the Word of God was “helped, established, upheld, protected, supported, confirmed, promoted,” etc. To Erasmus Luther wrote something concerning theologians that also fits here:

“They make a parade of Scripture, yet they are as uncertain of it as the other side; though they boast of the Spirit, they give no sign of possessing it.[43]

The most banal use of the word comes from Eisenhut, a very radical priest and peasant leader. “Appear here with a wagon, so that the Gospel and justice will be furthered.”(236) It is, however, couched in a confrontation or perhaps, a threat.

The language of the Peasants’ War also becomes dissonant with the Word of God while using it. Peter von Polenz gives an example of what he calls a sample of advanced, intimately expressive language achieved by the peasants, which spread a sense of equality. He cites Hans Muller von Bulgenbach (the peasant emperor) addressing a city in the Black Forest and inviting it to join the peasants’ cause. Polenz must have become distracted by beautiful words, because after all the solidarity, endearment, and brotherly affection, the paragraph concludes: “You have been warned for the first time![44] Müller is the commander of the whole fighting force, (Huffen) giving the address, and their battle cry is “Gospel, Gospel, Gospel!” (Evangelium, Evangelium, Evangelium)- that Greek loan word in the German, which has “taken” as a real German word, is here not only emptied, but used as a fighting word.

Examples abound in which extortion and compulsion are connected with the Gospel. One city is warned unless they join the cause of the gospel, the peasants will burn and destroy their vineyards, their livelihood growing around the city.

“To avoid being throttled, ruined, and devastated by [the peasants] and to escape the accusation of resisting God’s Word and divine justice, we have finally decided to stand by the Word of God,”(195) the Miltenbergers write to another city.

Altdorf is confronted in a similar way, immediately to swear into the armed contingent, literally, the “bright band” (heller Haufen) and add to this peasant fighting force.(138) For twenty florins some could purchase protection, but the word “gospel” was not used, just the “united bands of evangelical brothers.”(138-139) Because many were coerced to join the peasants, their cohesiveness could not have been genuine.[45]

In the escalation of the Popular Reformation into full blown Peasants’ War, the word “additive” began to refer to more and more. Thus pure Gospel, a code word for “Word of God without the addition of human teaching,” came to mean no lords as well. “What increases the Swiss, but the greed of the Lords?” the Zwinglian revolutionary asks.(275) The Swiss cantons are a lordless society, if one does not count the lordship of the burghers over the peasants of their suburbs. But a greater measure of freedom for the common man was prevalent there, which would, of course, have been a Godsend to German peasants.

In this escalation, a more radical theology permeated “the pure gospel,” i.e., “without additive,” which are the terms, this study is concerned with. A mandate arose to reject all lords but God as an additive to the gospel. When the peasants of Schaffhausen do so,(81,121) they do not explicitly mention additives, but their radical religious ideas relate to Hubmaier’s, if the hostile report of his ideas can be believed. Coming back from Zwingli’s Second Colloquy at Zürich (26-28 of October, 1523), Hubmaier noted that requiem masses, altars, images, church bells, altar lamps, etc., were to be destroyed or removed; no one was to render rents, tithes, interest payments, or annuities; nor obey their lords or be subject to them.(100-101) In an Apology of 1526, Hubmaier claims he never held these positions, but does speak of the “innovations and impositions”  burdening the poor, thus estranging them from the Gospel.(232)[46]

If Hubmaier did not teach such a radical concept of additives to the gospel, a graduated scale of radical theologies can be distilled from peasants’ ideas and actions. These convictions ranged from the rejection of all lords, except God; all lords but the emperor; or all lords, even the captains of the peasants’ bands. The anarchy that prevailed at the failed siege of the Marienburg in Würzburg, is a case in point, a failure that helped doom the peasants in Franconia.

But the peasants had a severe problem with their leaders, many of whom betrayed them. Matern Feuerbacher, for example, whose house had been plundered when he opposed the Poor Conrad rebellion in 1514, went to the peasants with the assignment to dissuade them from rebelling. If that was impossible, he was to have himself elected captain and seek to contain the rebellion, especially to prevent the assembly from uniting with other bands.(141) The peasants grew suspicious of him and tried him in a ring. Feuerbacher defended himself:

“The emperor is our lord; it’s him we want to have; [not Duke Ulrich]; we are here because of the Word of God, to establish it, and where anyone complains of being denied justice, to help him gain it.”(142)

Meanwhile it was his assignment to get the peasants defeated.[47] This appeal to the Word of God successfully covered up his deception.

The Upper Swabian, Zwinglian revolutionary who wrote a long tract to the Assembly of Common Peasantry in the end of April or beginning of May, 1525, rings very true, despite his complete justification of battle for the defense of the gospel. (But ultimately, such a position is self-contradictory.) His tract rings so true, however, because he is so realistic about the attitude of self-defense that the peasants sorely need, but are not free to exercise. Perhaps they were still enjoying their self-image as the agents of the Reformation. After Jäcklin Rohrbach led the atrocity of Weinsberg in which noblemen were forced to run the gauntlet, among them the son-in-law of Ferdinand, Ludwig von Helfenstein, with the daughter of Ferdinand and her small son looking on, and precisely on Easter Day, April 16, 1525,(158) much of the good will the peasants enjoyed evaporated.(32)[48] The common wood-cut image of the peasant guarding the Reformation with his flail, no longer held true. On the other hand, this kind of terror was understood, and many who had held out against the peasants now collapsed, and surrendered to them, while Georg Truchsess von Waldburg, commander of the Swabian League, when he returned with his Landsknecht army from the Italian campaign, roasted the perpetrators of the gauntlet alive – to have the last word on terror.

To return to the revolutionary Zwinglian realist, who was routing for the peasants to attain Swiss freedom:

“If your opponents want to fight and follow their evil heads, and to dispute the Gospel with lances, halberds, muskets, and high breastplates, then be it as God wills, and let the anger burn against those who will not have it otherwise. Their criminal attacks are hated by God. But you should trust in God! Be steadfast in faith! You are not fighting for yourself, but for God, to preserve the Gospel and to tear down the Babylonian prison! Each should strive to help his neighbor in all loyalty and love!…”(273)

Of course, “help his neighbor” with the exception of the enemy to be slain. The peasants had organized themselves into armed units. War cannot protect what in and of itself it is also erasing, i.e., the Gospel.

This revolutionary takes religious judgments into deeper waters. The Gospel certainly has the last word, but the second to last, third, fourth to last judgments may have to be social, political, or military. The problem is not just one of having the gospel and human teaching mixed up (anvermischt), but having a confusion about what action to take in the face of what reality. Thomas Müntzer may or may not have been a fine theologian, but he was no general. To advance as an army geared for battle, singing hymns, and preaching the gospel is contradictory. The battle formation of the peasants into which they mustered themselves was completely reasonable, but to do so for the Gospel was not honest. The words of this tract ring true, calling complete solidarity, with no look “to becoming rich with the goods of others,” and realizing the consequences for them involved in any showing of weakness: torture, maiming, being drawn and quartered! Worst of all he lamented:

“Woe, woe forever for the eternal murder of the entire peasantry!”(274)

There can be a case, as in the Battle of Mohács, where in a superficial way the issue of the outcome is one or another faith, Islam or Christianity. But how much more honest to fight for ones’ lives rather than for the Gospel. Then this tract could be completely realist for spiritual reasons. The peasants were irresolute sometimes for spiritual and sometimes for material reasons. The peasants were justified in fighting for their lives, because circled by cavalry horsemen, they were butchered by the thousands like pigs, as accounts refer to them, or like frogs, which the nobles like storks, would swallow for dinner.[49] The peasants needed to fight for their lives, if not for their faith, and fighting resolutely, may have saved a chance for their new faith as well. The quandary for an army fighting for the Gospel is that the Gospel bids them to love their enemies.

But being realistic and resolute would mean to compare their chances for attaining Swiss freedom outside of the Alpine mountain fortress of Switzerland, one hundred percent of whose fierce menfolk were militarized, and ready to defend it. When Charles V defeated Francis I at Pavia February 24, 1525, and the Swiss immediately called back their 7,000 mercenaries from Duke Ulrich’s siege of Stuttgart, then in reality Swiss freedom itself was jeopardized let alone attainable for large reaches of Germany. It is this same tract that iterates the false hope, even two months after Pavia, that “a cow will stand on the Schwanberg in the land of Franconia, and low or bellow until it is heard in the middle of Switzerland.”(276) But the lordless society of Swiss freedom cannot be identified with Christian freedom, as interpreted by the Gospel without additive, because the Swiss cantons were divided against themselves, six for the old faith and three for the new.(121)[50]

When the two hundred volunteers from Zürich, who joined the Waldshut garrison to “uphold the Gospel” and prevent Hubmaier from being delivered to old believing executioners, the Word of God was not only being resisted from the old side, it was being compromised on the new. For Luther social justice and equality had to be named adiaphora; i.e., as part of human teaching. Christian freedom could not be identified with Swiss freedom. Adiaphora does not mean unimportant, only not ultimate. The ultimate is not attainable by direct human action. Luther’s translation of the New Testament, which had such an impact on the peasants and common people, removed a fixed social barrier blocking the way to equality. His passive mode in terms of social, political, and military action,[51] set the direct action of God through speech, writing, or print, into bold relief. (Witness his Invocavit Sermons‘ citation. See footnote 29 above.)

Broad and comprehensive action taken through language, indeed, God’s direct action through holy language, the Word of God, made advances for equality and solidarity by in-roads to the heart, by education, persuasion, instruction of conscience, the gracious conversion to integrity through faith. Human speech, its transmission and reception, unleashes an invisible direct action aimed at the better life that Luther called, “the betterment of the Christian estate,” (Christlichen Standes Verbesserung).[52] If the Popular Reformation had not been confused and mixed up with the Peasants’ War, had remained “anvermischt,” (that is, not confused and mixed up) there would have been better chances for both, the Popular Reformation and the Peasants’ War. The Gospel does not allow revenge for the blood of innocent preachers shed by the lords. Hubmaier had the right to place them in a Christian ban, but no Christian authority allows such military retribution, nor for the replacement of such lords by election of members of a country parliament (Landschaft). If deemed possible, however, it may be the rational thing to do. But such action cannot have Gospel legitimation.

What our study has tried to classify as inadequate language, Austrian authorities called “pretense and evil camouflage” to attribute to the Word of God “their disobedience to the Holy Empire.”(150) And they saw Zwingli and Zürich behind it, fearing Zürich’s French alliance. When the peasants in the Black Forest pitifully cried for reinforcements from Zürich, which had promised protection and help:

“Yes, [the Zürichers replied,] they were willing to aid the Word of God, but not rebellion, which overturned the same Word of God, and was not to be tolerated.”(302)

This dreadful account of the Swiss abandoning the peasants to protect themselves, is similar to the one in which Zürich arrested four image-stormers in Ittingen pro forma, and then to prevent attack from the Catholic cantons handed them over for execution.(100) Such duplicity produces the suspicion that Zürich was using the Word of God to destabilize Austrian holdings to its own advantage, and in the moment of truth, chose its security over the “Word of God.[53]

The four weeks between the Easter of Weinsberg and the middle of May, 1525, the peasants spoke about what changes would take place “when the Reformation was established.” (Amorbach Articles: “We have a mission of God to rectify the great lack of the Word of God that has hitherto prevailed.”)(283) But in swift battles in the middle of May, their edifice turned out to be a house of cards. The lords unleashed untold savagery upon them. Ernest Gelner has an apt epithet, calling the lords, “thugs,” which is indeed what some of them were.[54]


The string of words, “clear and pure Gospel and Word of God without the addition of human teaching,” certainly evokes the “ubiquitous presence” of Luther, to turn a phrase. But then one can find Zwingli referring to the “bright and clear Gospel,” as well as the “pure Word of God,” too.[55] Although Luther is present in the meaning of these words, the spirit of them belongs to Zwingli. Not at all religiously or spiritually circumscribed, their thrust is directly at the social and political dimension of a mutually sworn commune, whether urban, town, or country. When it comes to tithe-revolt and rejection of civil magistrates, Zwingli parts company with peasants having such views. To a wishfully-thinking peasant, these can be “additions” to the Word of God. Zwingli’s Swiss republicanism allows him to reject lords, but not in such a way that would call all authority into question. Most peasants also did not do that either. But radical theology was present, when “additional human teaching” was considered to refer to secular authority and tithes. Make no mistake, Swiss freedom would entail constitutional change of the secular and ecclesiastic principalities, duchies, monastic holdings of Upper Germany. But the radically religious also rejected decisions of the civil magistrates of Zürich. They tried to achieve a polarization of that society, in order to elect a non-coercive council (senatus) from those who had chosen the evangelical side.[56]

A sectarian spirit does not describe many peasants, nor their aspirations. Like the urban commune later, they wanted to integrate the priesthood into their communes and equalize the nobility. In Franconia they wanted peasant representation in ruling councils, thus they did not reject governmental office. Perhaps some of the rejection of all secular government came about later among the Anabaptists as a deep structured reaction against the brutal annihilation of peasants for even wanting to participate in government.

Because the string of words, and the positions held by the peasants are thus shown to be distinct from those of Luther, Zwingli, and radical religious adherents, this particular phrasing of the words must be their own.

Perhaps a wood-cut, the Allegory of the Godly Mill, in which Zwingli personally had a hand, can relate the multiple involvement in the Popular Reformation component better.[57] The traditional allegory of the mill is reinterpreted for the spreading of the “pure Word of God.” The Father and the Holy Spirit turn the wheel by grace, Christ pours the evangelists and St. Paul into the hopper-funnel to be ground, Erasmus is the miller. The baker is the Augustinian monk, Luther, behind him, kneading the dough in the baking trough, and making the breads, which turn into books. The only unlabeled character, a scholar, most likely Zwingli himself, is handing them to the church hierarchy: a Dominican monk, a cardinal, bishop, and pope, who let the bread-turned into Bibles fall to the ground and reject them. Birds cry, “ban, ban!” over these ecclesiasts, who have just finished banning Luther. The peasant with a threshing flail protects the preaching of the Gospel and threatens the enemies of the Reformation. So Luther and Zwingli, the peasants, and others play their various roles in the mill that turns out the bread of the Word of God for the Reformation.

What the picture does not show, because indeed it came out in the Spring of 1521, is the protracted persecution and frustration of those in the mill that was churning away at the Popular Reformation.  Now the peasant was swinging his flail. Zwingli himself drew up plans for a military campaign between July 1524 -January 4, 1525.[58] Later he tells that the “nerve of the oligarch has to be cut” or otherwise “neither the evangelical truth nor its servants could be secure.” and For Zwingli, in the last analysis (ultima ratio), power politics and war would come into question for the defense of the Gospel.[59] Zwingli’s direct pressure and action to try to open up the forest cantons for evangelical preaching, brought the Catholic cantons up to Zürich to take their lethal revenge.

The defense of the Gospel is a very precarious thing. It is with this issue that the peasants and Zwingli differed diametrically from Luther. The pure Gospel, as a code word for “without addition of human teaching,” advanced to the direct action of destroying images and then monasteries, then even castles had to be attacked.

By the “pure Word of God,” Luther also “meant without the addition of human teaching,” but he held that those institutions which rested on human teaching, did not need to be destroyed by human hands. The physical sound of the naked words had their way of getting into human hearts[60] and dissolving institutions and raising them up in a new form. Thus the personal passive stance involved with justification by grace through faith, correlated with a passive social one as well, featuring the direct action of the Word of God. It was to be helped by no human hand, let alone force, coercion, or military campaigns. Luther thus felt that those who had to lend the word a hand, or who tried to defend it, really entered works righteousness, and were “falling out of the Kingdom” and experiencing a “ship-wreck in faith.”

That is not the conception of the pure Word of God represented by Zwingli, the peasants and the common man. The Word of God, for them, referred to Scripture, basically. Old and New Testaments, especially Luther’s new translations, which made it clear in the many social meanings shown in this study.

For Luther it was Word of God in so far as it was brought to speech in preaching.[61] Pure Gospel for Luther did not only refer the Word of God without the addition of human teaching, but also the Word alone, doing what could not be done by human hand, and most certainly not by force or coercion.

“Pure Word of God” is peasant short-hand, according to Peter Blickle, for that Word, without the addition of human teaching and precepts. According to Luther, the latter are condemned if they try to annul or replace clear commands from Scripture and bind believers to externals. Canon law and traditional dogma of the church could no longer be trusted, because the pope and the entire hierarchy had hopelessly mixed up human and divine law, and the peasants called upon preachers to be the judges to distinguish the two. They wanted out of the Babylonian captivity of their consciences.[62] But in the process they added to the “additives” what was advantageous for them, and their burdens makes this understandable, given all the burdens of others they were forced to carry.[63]

When the “addition was self-interest” as in Gaismair’s Merano Articles, then the formula was much more genuine. Then it became shorthand for the common good, brotherly love, the promotion of equality. When that continues into the identification of the godly law with the gospel, as Blickle writes, making the latter a kind of law to guide political and judicial affairs, then the most important communicative aspect of the Gospel is lost sight of. Certainly God is also a judge and life takes place in court and we are all on trial and the giving of laws is a necessity. But Moses is transcended by the Gospel of Christ, out of which Gospel-of-promise, more than just a blue print for a new society becomes possible. A renewal of language, renewal of lives, renewal of institutions pours out of this Word.

In my analysis the range of meanings of the Word of God in the usage of the peasants ranged from adequate to very inadequate slogans. The latter do correlate with violence and coercion, but Hans Müller of Bulgenbach showed that intimate language can also be used to veil threats. Clearly, very adequate, even incredibly adept language can also be used to incite violence. (Witness the letter of Müntzer to the miners of Mansfeld.) Thus, language, too, does not escape the Tillichian ambiguity, in which it can be the law that kills or the promise that gives new life. But in the latter sense of the Gospel, a striking command of the language can be noticed, which derives from the hearing or experience of the language event. The social formation and behavior need to be homologous or consonant with that language, and if words get into the heart they make them so.

The Word of God as promise is the divine source of language, which is the source of relationships, institutions, society. It builds a verbal universe freer than the physical universe, (because it is invisible and more easily revisable). The verbal society can be rearranged in different ways, so that the social one does not have to be brought into disarray, until the verbal one has gotten it right, and knows how the social one can be changed, or the physical one for that matter, always noting Reinhold Niebuhr’s distinction between what can and cannot be changed. (Think of his Serenity Prayer.) A language command gained from the experience of the Word of God, can absorb an earthly order and reconfigure it a more heavenly one.

This was attempted in the Peasants’ War, with force of arms, however, and a rather more oppressive and sorry world resulted.

Methodological Addendum

The Social Linguistic Approach to the Popular Reformation

A word needs to be said about the social linguistic method of this study,[64] even while using it to advance the Scriptural reception argument, that is, the peasants’ reading Luther’s fresh and powerful translation of his New Testament. The basic concept of a linguistic culture comes from Emil Durkheim,[65] and the notion of the linguistic construction of social realities, and the power of language to bend the world to fit the word, come from John Searle.[66] More, however, will need to be said about George Lindbeck’s cultural-linguistic model of religion and Peter von Polenz’ social-linguistics, because Lindbeck’s religion as a language model really transcends an interpretive method. It entails a shift in the paradigm, from extra- to intra-textuality, one that seems to be illustrated by the sources and is thus fruitful for this study. It can explain a great deal about the Word of God in the Reformation, in general and the Popular Reformation and its escalation into Peasants’ War in the towns and countryside, in particular.[67]

In The Nature of Doctrine,[68] George Lindbeck works out a cultural-linguistic paradigm, which conceives religion to be like a language operating with grammatical, regulative rules. This language has deep grammar and a superficial one with more exceptions than illustrations of the rule (so frustrating to those learning the language).

In the peasants’ own reception of the Word of God, Lindbeck’s arguments are apposite with the peasants’ hearing Scriptures preached and read to them. They learn to interpret and experience their own lives and their world in the terms of the story of Jesus and the history of Israel.[69] Rather than being outside the Scriptures and interpreting them, they are transported into the Scriptures. Lindbeck calls this intra-textuality. The text absorbs the world, rather than the world absorbing the text.[70] The euphoria among the peasants and common people resulted from the powerful impact of a fresh hearing of Scriptures. Here in their hands they could have the Scriptures themselves, the source of the story of Jesus and the history of Israel.[71] They could learn the basic vocabulary of Christianity and interpret their lives and world in its light. And this amazing return to the sources was not in Latin, but in a language they could understand.

Luther translated the Scriptures into his Eastern Middle German, Meisenisch, the language from the Saxon chancellory with his ear to the marketplace and how the common people talked.[72]

It is still hard, however, to imagine the intensity of the euphoria in which hundreds of thousands of peasants suddenly rose up; a movement, Peter Blickle finds to have never happened before nor since in the history of central Europe.[73] This word “euphoria,” however, does not capture a seething rage also present among the peasants, one in which the peasants of Bamberg, for example, could destroy 200 castles in three days.[74] Some of this rage resulted from suddenly understanding their oppression and who their oppressors were. But keyed into that was also a sense of having been deceived by the priests,[75] of the very great discrepancy between their experienced religious life and the picture of it they received right from the very source.

Lindbeck notes that for those who are steeped in the authoritative texts, no world is more real than these create.[76] A Scriptural world is able to absorb the universe. The text absorbs the world rather than the world the text.[77] (Lindbeck seems to be playing a variation on Searle’s theme.) He continues that for the intra-textual stand the interpretative direction goes from the Bible to the world rather than vice versa.[78] (Lindbeck’s schema here resembles Searle’s direction of fit. See footnote [8].) Because the church had become the problematic entity[79] and was the entity that needed to be reformed, it could not be a locus from which to interpret Scripture. Therefore it was relegated to the human domain and authority became located in the Word of God. The word, “alone” now referred to the fact that the church was to be measured by the yardstick of the Scripture, rather than allowing the church to avoid that corrective by controlling its interpretation.

(In his book, Lindbeck is not at all dealing with the Peasants’ War, but because he has the Reformation in mind, what he says applies to the Popular Reformation component of it.)

Sola Scriptura is the cry for the Reformers, but not for the peasants. They wish their lives and articles to reflect the Scripture, however, and wish to hear the viva vox evangelii[80] (that is, the living voice of the Gospel) in preaching to bring about the necessary changes in the church.

Was this change of authority necessary? Critical statements by Schappeler argue that they were, in criticisms that have already been cited. Peter Burke’s observation that the corruption charge used in the struggle to dislodge an old paradigm by a new one is also apt.[81] If the corruption charge became convincing, what authority was left but for the Scripture alone? That was the new paradigm. In addition, to follow Lindbeck, the grammar and the regulative rules had to be discovered in the language of the religion itself. Perhaps what Lindbeck is searching for, when he tries to reinterpret scriptura sui ipsius interpres, (i.e., the Scriptures interpret themselves) is the shift from the Scripture interpreted from outside itself, to the Word of God coming to speech, and reshaping the world from within itself. The world in the grip of this language does not reflect upon the textual, quite so much as become a reflection of it. (This is the performative dimension of the word or language in terms of speech acts. It is well illustrated in Luther’s dictum, “For the Word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the world.” See footnote [5])

George Lindbeck has taken this study into its argument: in a nutshell, the intensity of the Popular Reformation of the peasants and common people came about by their linguistic reception of Luther‘s newly translated Scriptures, both printed and preached, and expounded by many tracts.[82] The Word of God unleashed powerful religious and social forces. In a characteristic reversal, the language they began to grasp now grasped and moved them. But the escalation of the Reformation into the Peasants‘ War undermined the new language and the movement. The following social-linguistic study will take this argument further.

In Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart,[83] (translated into English the title is: The History of the German Language from the Middle Ages to the Present), Peter von Polenz writes about inter- and intra-language politics [Sprach(en) Politik]. He defines such language politics as planned, process and goal oriented, government interventions, or interventions of organized circles of power, into the relationships of languages.[84] Such politics try to steer exoglossic/inter-ethnic or endoglossic/intra-ethnic processes, but most often these take place unconsciously, behind the backs of the subjects.[85] Thus there is a continuous, bi-lingual, long-lasting, medieval relationship between the universal high-culture of Latin and the particular, underdeveloped languages of the people.[86] Clearly Luther’s translation of the Scriptures into the Eastern Middle German and the beginnings of the urban oriented Early New High German,[87] in which his translation played an important role, illustrates such an intervention. In the process, no longer are Latin, Greek, and Hebrew the only languages capable of containing the Scriptures, or the Word of God, but now a German designed to be understood by the common people, is, too.[88] To attempt to shut out the common people from the Scriptures and worship and from all knowledge by means of a language represents a very heavy social handicap. The mendicant friars were certainly preaching to the people and initiating earlier evangelical movements since the Thirteenth Century.[89] Their focus induced the common people to more devotion, the aspirations of the religiosi, and their orders, pilgrimages, etc. But something is unique about a situation in which the peasant leader of the Baltringen Band, Ulrich Schmid of Sulmingen, faces the city magistrates and some nobles, who have to come to him, and requires judgment between them according to the words of the Scripture(124) – (Schmid is reported to have come to a marvelous ability to preach to the peasants[90]) and when the rulers return, a week later, he is no longer there with 3,000 but 30,000 common people.(123)

It was certainly a long and slow process taking centuries before High German replaced Latin, but these early modern people of the popular Reformation must have gotten a glimpse of what was possible and, of course, what has become actual in our times. With Early New High German beginning to dislodge Latin, inter-language processes began to be replaced by intra-language ones. Without Latin subordinating all dialects equally, a struggle began between the German dialects, in which ENHG started the demise of Low German as a literary language.[91] Language ridicule set in discriminating against those who could not transcend their dialects and speak High German. Dates are given for when it was no longer forbidden to speak German in the Strassbourg Gymnasium (1538),[92] when the first lectures were held in German (1687), and the Eighteenth Century when the language of instruction became German in the universities,[93] but this was an uneven and slow process. Even in the late Nineteenth Century, it was in Latin that Emil Durkheim had to write his dissertation. High German then began to take over the role, that Latin once had, to discriminate against the lower classes.[94]

The furor and euphoria of the people from 1524-1526 needs explanation not only because of the long drawn out process the displacement of Latin by German entailed, but also the fact that there were many other German translations of the Scriptures. Counting Johann Mentel’s Strassbourg Bible of 1466, there were fourteen German publications of the whole Bible into a high German dialects and four into Low German ones. These along with many partial translations, were mostly from the Vulgate. After Luther’s powerful translation, in which he used Erasmus’s Greek New Testament of 1516 for help in difficult places, none of these pre-Luther Bibles were published again. Luther’s language was simple and understandable for the laity, good for reading aloud, designed to be spoken and heard, figurative and drastic[95] and the earlier versions could not compete. Even the anti-Luther Bibles published by Emser (1527), Dietenberger (1534), and Eck (1537)used Luther’s translation only changing some of the words, about which Luther protests in a circular letter. (Sendebrief)[96]

Thus it is not a matter of Luther’s giving the German people a language, although he plays a significant role in the development of ENHG; it is not a matter of his translation being the first, because it wasn’t; it is not a matter of his discovering the Gospel, (Who lost it?); but it is something unique about his language. Peter von Polenz notes that he placed German into the same category as Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the three holy languages, the only ones in which the Word of God was legitimate.[97] He also claimed Luther strengthened the Scriptures poetically maintaining a sacral character despite using common language.[98] But perhaps what this social-linguist writes needs to be joined with Lindbeck’s model. Luther’s Scriptures had the power to draw the people into its world, address them with language that moved the heart, and give them a new language command after the experience. (Witness Ulrich Schmid of Sulmingen.) Again, von Polenz maintains that his vital spoken language style, his language of address, his dialogical forms of question and answer, his freedom in sentential word order, anacoluthons,[99] modal words (which designate emotional nuances in what is said), proverbs, in short, he was more interested in speaking about God with the common people, and the preaching in the “Mouth-house” of the church than in academic high German,[100] spoken as if written and ready for publication for scholars.

But there is still something more. And it has been touched upon with the word “performative,” not in a mere technical sense, but in its dynamic ability to change realities. Consider Austin’s distinction about promises, i.e., “to talk about a promise is not to make one.” And in Luther’s reinterpretation of the gospel in terms of the promises of God, and his emphasis on faith, corresponding to Searle’s sincerity conditions, required in speech acts, Austin’s word could be modified: “to write about the Gospel is not the same as making God’s promises and bidding the people to trust in them.” God spoke in this Scriptural language. God acted through speech by changing the fabric of social reality. Institutions were  dismantled and (others) reconstructed in the powerful motion of the Word of God. After all,according to John Searle, the fabric of social institutions is made out of language.

Although the Bondage of the Will could not have been received by the peasants’, first, because it came out in 1526 and secondly, because it was written in Latin; nevertheless, it has very interesting sections, in which Luther is arguing with Erasmus about the Word of God, and how it functioned in the Peasants’ War. It is here that Luther declares: “For the Word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the world.” And it comes accompanied by tumult and bloodshed, he continues, and that makes him rejoice, because it is the sign that the Word of God is afoot. He is convinced that it has come to bring about the collapse of the kingdom of the pope. Even if the whole world is shattered on account of the Word of God, what is shattered would be lost on any account, if it is not changed by the Word of God. “It is preferable to lose the world, rather than God, its creator, who is able to create innumerable worlds again, and who is better than infinite worlds.”[101]

Luther assures Erasmus that the Word of God cannot be suppressed or prohibited.[102] The Scriptures are “clear,” meaning, they are not obscure so that the meaning has to be mediated to the common people by priests. Exegetical skills need to be learned, but these can be learned by the common people as well as the clergy. Luther’s “exegetical experience” (Lindbeck) with the Word of God needs to be added to the one he experienced with Romans 1:17, where he is in the throes of justification by grace through faith. Back in 1514 in his lecture on Psalm 118 he exclaims: “Behold the Word of God! Oh, if one were only able to weigh, with the feeling we ought, what it means by saying, ‘God is speaking,’ ‘God is promising,’ ‘God is threatening!’ Who I ask would not be shaken to the very depths? This is a great word, a great sound, and one to be feared: ‘Behold, the Word of God!’[103]

Luther may not be able to give a technical definition of performativity, but he certainly has his finger on Austin’s discovery on “How (God) does things with words” – to modify Austin’s title slightly. Again back in the Dictata Super Psalterium, explicating Psalm 115:10, “I have believed, therefore, I have spoken.” He notes, “All our goods are only in words and promises. For heavenly things cannot be shown as present; they can only be proclaimed by the Word.[104] [It is out of such dynamic language that new realities issue out and refresh our old world.]

The Dictata was not published, so the peasants and common people could not have read or heard it, but many a student heard these lectures and by spreading the word,  they represent another important factor. Wittenberg had become the largest university between 1521 to 1525. Between 1515 and 1520 only Leipzig is competing with it’s numbers of registered students, having 1770, while Wittenberg had 1714. They averaged 705 and 600 students per year in this same period. The figures drop between 1521 to 1525: 940 to 1069, and averages of 331 and 379, respectively, making Wittenberg outdistance Leipzig, and become the largest of all twelve German universities.[105] Many of these students were preaching what they learned under Luther and Melanchthon.

In addition to living words the peasants encountered in real persons, Bernd Moeller’s tries to depict the revolution in printing that Luther and his contemporaries represent for the reception of his version of the Reformation. In 1519 there were 45 single publications, the overwhelming majority of them by Luther. He counts 1,000 copies as a conservative estimate for each edition, of which there were 259. That put 259,000 copies of Luther’s writings into the hands of his contemporaries. This he calls the first epiphany of the masses in the Reformation. No author had ever had that kind of publishing success. Very importantly they were more easily read tracts rather than long books.[106] They were by a living author, not by the Fathers of the past, and they dealt with the deepest questions of their existence.[107] Moeller counts only one other set of Luther’s publications, those of 1522 to 1523. Luther published 150 single titles, published in 1,100 editions, meaning that it is likely that over a million copies of his writings came into the hands of the people. Moeller is telling us about the way the explosion of printed tracts, mostly by Luther in these years, were received by the masses. If the crowning achievement of the New Testament is added to that, then the intensity of the Popular Reformation is better understood.

[1]Blickle, The Revolution of 1525, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977, 1981), p. 196. Derselbig erwölt Pfarrer soll uns das hailig Evangeli lauter und klar predigen one allen menschlichen Zçsatz, Leer und Gebot. Günter Franz, Quellen zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges, (München: R.Oldenbourg, 1963), p. 174-179, no. 43.

[2]Scott and Scribner, translators and editors, The German Peasants‘ War, (New Jersey: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1991), p. 132. Item das wir welln, uns das heilig Evangelium und Wort Gots lauter und clar anvermischt menschlicher Lere mit seinen Fruchtn von geschicktn Verstendign der Heilign Geschrift gepredigt und furtragen werdt. Franz, Quellen, p. 197-198. No. 52.

[3]Blickle, 195-201.

[4]Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Heiko A. Oberman, and James D. Tracy, editors, Handbook of European History 1400-1600, v.2, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995), p. 161-192.

[5]LW,33,205. WA 18,600-787. From Bondage of the Will.

[6]Ibid., p. 25.

[7]Luther was not a Carlstadt, who dressed in a peasants’ gray garb, gave up his professorship, and now wanted to be taught by the peasants. Luther remains dialectical. His Leisnig tract for the circumspect replacement of legal patronage by that of the congregation to insure evangelical preaching, is not at all the angry position he takes against the common man in the Erfurter Articles after the Peasants’ War. A portion of the former tract makes his position more transparent: “And since in these last accursed times the bishops and the false spiritual government neither are nor wish to be teachers – moreover they want neither to provide nor tolerate any, and God should not be tempted to send new preachers from heaven – we must act according to Scripture and call and institute from among ourselves, those who are found to be qualified….” From Todd Nichol, “Bishops in the Lutheran Tradition,”  J.M. Tuell and R.W. Fjeld, eds., Episcopacy: Lutheran-United Methodist Dialogue II, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1991),p. 36-37.

[8]If the Reformation was a language event, and those who experienced it, received a new command of language; and, if a component of the Peasants’ War was the Popular Reformation, then it, too, was involved with a language event.  See John Searle and the direction of fit of language, (word to world and world to word)[in Expression and Meaning, (Cambridge University Press, 1979), pages 3-4], George Lindbeck’s religion as a language model, [See below.] and Peter von Polenz (See footnote 13.) on inter and intra-language politics in the Addendum. Lindbeck’s intra-textuality seems to have real explanatory power for some of the attitudes in these documents, but what the documents themselves reveal before explanation will be the focus of this part of the study. George Lindbeck in The Nature of Doctrine, Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1984.

[9]LW,33,52. WA 18,600-787.

[10]Scott and Scribner, The German Peasants‘ War, has already been cited. Sometimes going back to the original German from their translation is necessary for this study. References to the page numbers of this basic source will henceforth be given in parentheses after the citation.

[11]G. Franz, Quellen, No. 76, p. 244.

[12]See Addendum: Luther’s September and December Testaments numbered about 240,000 copies, while well over a million copies of his tracts were in the hands of the people between 1520 and 1524. See the argument of the Addendum undergirding this study.

[13]Peter von Polenz, Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart,v. I, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1991), p.252. Johannes Cochläus’ observed in amazement that shoemakers, wives, simple lay people, who only half-way know how to read, are reading the New Testament eagerly and disputing with masters and doctors of theology about the faith issues of the Gospel!

[14]After applying this method it become clear that Lindbeck’s model dovetails with Luther’s sense of the Word of God. But theories about language event are independent of Luther.

[15]Durkheim’s dictum on methodology in the Addendum is encouraging here, because further thought is needed. [See footnote 64.]

[16]A homology avoids a materialist doctrine such as that of the social infrastructure determining the intellectual superstructure. It asserts that the social formation is a factor in the theology in this case, and vice versa: theology is a factor in the social formation.

[17]LW,39,278-279. WA 10:2,140. “The So-Called Spiritual Estate.”

[18]Peter von Polenz, p. 147.

[19]LW, 39, 300. WA 11, 408.

[20] R. Gritsch explains that Luther distinguishes “church,” i.e., “Kirche” from “congregation,” “gemeyne.” Footnote: LW, 39, 305.

[21]LW, 39, 305. WA 11, 408-416.

[22]Scott and Scribner, p.45. For the Süngau Band the banner quite simply bore the inscription, “Jesus Christ.” In Ebermünster they carried the motto, VDMIE, Verbum Dei Manet in Eternum.

[23]WA, v.10:2, 72-92.

[24]WA, 10:2, p. 76.

[25]Oberman, Heiko A. “The Gospel of Social Unrest: 450 Years After the So-Called ‘German Peasants’ War of 1525.” Harvard Theological Review. 69 (1976), 103-129. Note that “pure gospel” can also function the same way, because, according to Peter Blickle, it is short hand for “the gospel without addition of human teachings.” Hence, also, an implicit attack on monasticism. But Blickle defines “pure gospel” much more inclusively: “a repudiation of the doctrinal tradition of the Church, both dogmas and canon law.” Brady, Oberman, and Tracy, vol. II, p. 168.

[26]N.B. Unlike Zwingli, who had argued in 1520 that the tithe could not be grounded on godly law. This debate then surfaced around Zürich. Zwingli distanced himself from such tithe or tax revolt, but granted its abuse in the prevailing practice. He argued that peasants could not just refuse to pay tithes because they are not founded in Scripture: pacta sunt servanda, i.e., agreements are obligating. Berndt Hamm, Zwingli‘s Reformation der Freiheit, (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1988), p. 104.

[27] Let Thomas Müntzer’s biblical mandate to purge the ungodly in accord with the Old Testament mandate to purge the Canaanites, simply be condemned as misuse of Scripture. According to Luther, such biblical laws are contextual, and need to be mediated through natural law and reason. See Luther’s treatise “How Christians Should Regard Moses (1525).” LW,35:161-174.

[28]Peter Blickle, p. 200-201.

[29]LW,51,77: “In short I will preach it, teach it, write it, but I will constrain no man by force, for faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example. I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force. I simply taught, preached and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept [cf. Mark 4:26-29.], or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it.” WA 10:3,1-64.

[30]Scott and Scribner agree with this judgement. See p. 24.

[31]WA 10:2,72.

[32]N.B. Perhaps, it is impossible to see the forest for the trees. A turn to the common language is a precondition for the request for evangelical preachers, and all the articles about the Word of God by the peasants and common man.

[33]Corruption is not a technical term. Peter Burke has some important insights about it. One of the ways a new organization of society fights to replace the old one is by calling it corrupt. In part corruption is in the eye of the beholder.

Peter Burke, History and Social Theory, (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1992), p. 74.  N.B. Better training and education of the new believing preachers, their access to printed New Testaments, use of the vernacular, and their emphasis on pastoral care, however, set the inadequacies of the untrained priests into bold relief.

[34]Ibid., p. 101. He called them Küchen und Suppenprediger. N.B. Peter Blickle uses this source as a representative case for the urban reformation associated with the Popular Reformation. See Brady, Oberman, and Tracy, p. 164-165.

[35]See Approach to Methodology.

[36]Peter von Polenz, p. 254.

[37]Rev. A.C. Thiselton, “The Parables as Language-Event: Some Comments on Fuch’s Hermeneutics in the Light of Linguistic Philosophy,” Scottish Journal of Theology, 23, 1970, p. 447.

[38]Blickle in Brady, Oberman, and Tracy, p. 172. “The peasant meaning of the Word of God, drawing practical consequences for their life in the world [meant  that] pure gospel encourages the common good (gemein Nutzen) and the practice of ‘brotherly love,’ promotes equality, and aims at the Christianization of society. In this sense pure Gospel functioned as a kind of law (lex) and was supposed to guide political and judicial affairs. This was their godly law.”

[39]A creation takes place in a promise [to jump ahead to my unfinished book called Creation via Language]. “I promise to be with you” is a performative because a commitment of the speaker to a future act is received by the hearer of the promise-speech-act.

[40]Franz, Quellen, No. 76, p. 244.

[41]See the citation below starting with: [The authorities]…

[42]Franz, Quellen, p. 296.

[43]LW,33,72. WA 18,600-787.

[44]P. v. Polenz, p. 263. He tries to take the sting out of the word, “ermahnt,” i.e., warned, but he is not convincing.

[45]In the revolution of the sailors and some returning German forces ending WWI, a mockery of comradrie went like this, (according to my father who fought in that war): “Willst Du nicht mein Bruder sein, so schlag ich dir den Schedel ein.“ Freely translated, “If you refuse to be my brother, I break your skull like any other.” (Just to make it rhyme as in German.)

[46]N.B. On a religious level, this is an irrelevant external.  Suffering can bring one closer or estrange a person from the Gospel. But on a social or political level, it can be systemically immanent violence.

[47]Interestingly enough, when the Jews revolted against Rome 60-70 C.E., Josephus had a similar assignment. He became a commander of peasants-in-insurrection, to bring them into the hands of the Roman legions. See Ched Meyers, Binding the Strongman, (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1988), page 67 and 86.

[48]One account mentions 14 nobles, another 17, and 24 servants killed in and around running the gauntlet.(158) The peasants did not take many lives, it seems. But they destroyed many monasteries and castles. They themselves, however, were massacred.

[49]A mayor of Ulm spoke sharply and bravely to the assembled peasants: “You peasants are like the frogs in the spring. They all come together and croak and cry: “rivit, rivit.” At that, the stork comes and swallows them. You also cry, ‘Woe! Woe!’ And the Lords will come and strike you dead.” Franz, Quellen, no. 31, p. 145.

[50]Was such an increase in political freedom, which the Swiss enjoyed, the fruit of faith in the gospel, a previous evangelical movement? That is a fair question.

[51]N.B. Military action gives the illusion of being able to do what it is not in its competence to do. Government, too, but here it is more complex.

[52]“Language is a social institution,” according to John Searle. (See footnote 66.) Luther’s version of “freedom of speech:” is the freedom over an invisible institution, which can consciously or (not) reshape the other institutions – although speech is to be understood, here, executively, to change realities, rather than vestigially, to merely reflect them.

[53]N.B. Their concerns for security were justified. The Catholic forest cantons surprised them at the Battle of Kappel, October 11, 1531, killing Zwingli, and at least seven other clergy. Then on October 24, they cut down another Reformed force at Gubel. Euan Cameron, The European Reformation, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1991),p. 223.

[54]Ernst Gellner, Plough, Sword, and Book: the Structure of Human History, (University of Chicago Press, 1988), p.277.

[55]B. Hamm, p. 16.

[56]G. H. Williams, The Radical Reformation, Third Edition, (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc., 1992), p. 188.

[57]B. Hamm, prefatory picture with explanation.

[58]B. Hamm, p. 20. More recent research redates it to 1526.


[60]James Preus, p. 252-254. This reference is interesting on three counts: 1)How words enter and move the heart, 2) “How words prevail over things — even the most contrary and powerful things!” and 3) How a sacramental view of words makes them ambiguous and obscure signs, while “naked words” are completely clear. (This speaks to clarity of Scriptures.)

[61]B. Hamm, p. 19: A Zwinglian expression spoke of the “Word of God, in so far as it could be drawn, witnessed, and proven from the Old and New Testaments.”

[62]Note the Zwinglian revolutionary’s allusion to the “Babylonian prison” (previously cited). On page 18, B. Hamm cites Zwingli: “Thus, if you want to be Christian authorities, you must let us preach the clear Word of God, and let it do its work, because you are not lords over souls and consciences of people.” “Also wellend ir obren Christen sin, so müssend ir uns das heiter [klare] wort gottes lassen predigen und es demnach lassen würcken; denn ir sind nit herren über die selen und conscientzen [Gewissen] der menschen.”

[63]N.B. It may be that justification was extended by peasants to cover secular burdens. Bernd Moeller argues that justification by grace through faith may be complex for us, but was the lived experience of the people of the Reformation. It relieved them of the burden of achieving merits required by the penitential system of the church. Bernd Moeller, “The Reception of Luther in the Early Reformation,” A Lecture for the International Congress of Luther Research, Oslo, August 14-20, 1988. Helmar Junghans, ed., Luther Year Book, No 57:1990, p. 64. Only in one document in Scott and Scribner, however, is justification by grace through faith mentioned. Preachers are cautioned to formulate it in such a way that the common people do not misunderstand it. It should not be preached to make the temporal duties of the peasants unnecessary. (330)

[64]N.B. Sociological studies usually place the description of their method at the beginning. A history paper, if it does not hide its method, places its description at the end. This study will conform the practice of the historians.

[65]According to Emil Durkheim, there are three distinct educational cultures: a scientific, a historical, and a linguistic one. See Emil Durkheim, The Evolution of Educational Thought, (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1977), p. 348.  N.B. I believe my investigation of the linguistic culture of the Peasants’ War is quite helpful and promising for future scholarship. A methodological dictum of Durkheim’s is also worth citing and remembering for linguistics as well as sociology: “At first we manage only to achieve what are sometimes gross approximations, but they are not without usefulness; for they constitute the mind‘s initial grasp of things and, as schematic as they may be, they are a necessary precondition of subsequent specification.” From Mark Traugott, ed., Emil Durkheim On Institutional Analysis, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 153.

[66]John Searle’s philosophy of language is helpful to the social linguistic approach of this study, especially his analysis of performative speech acts, [See “How Performatives Work,” Linguistics and Philosophy 12, 535-558, 1989.] and his work to unravel the linguistic component in the construction of social realities. [See his The Construction of Social Reality, (New York: the Free Press, 1995 and Making the Social World, (Oxford University Press, 2010).] He interprets language itself as an institution. [See The Construction of Social Reality, page 60.] He has an important insight, which he developed from the discovery of performatives by J.L. Austin in How To Do Things With Words,(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975). Language can attempt to reflect the world empirically, or it can try to shape the world by its power. Thus words and world have a direction of fit. [Expression and Meaning, (Cambridge University Press, 1979), pages 3-4.] Either the word has to match the world, or the world has to match the word. Here we will be speaking about the Word of God. But Searle, a  philosopher, speaks about the difference between having a grocery list and filling it into the shopping cart in a supermarket (where realities are made to match words), versus someone checking the list to see if the list really reflects what is in the shopping cart (Searle, Ibid., page 3.) The Word of God was being used in the former, rather than the latter way. N.B. In other terminology, it is the executive use of words and language rather than the vestigial, the weak use, i.e., mere words rather than actions, in the false alternative of common parlance. A different mode of language, here, even affects historiography. It’s one thing to write history as an empirical reflection of events, and quite another to make history by means of this command of the language.

[67]Brady, Oberman, and Tracy, p. 173.

[68]George Lindbeck in The Nature of Doctrine, (Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1984). I was first introduced to this approach by Robert Bellah in his lectures on the Sociology of Religion. Both Bellah and Lindbeck receive it from the anthropologist, Clifford Geertz. Ibid., p. 20.

[69]Ibid., p. 34. Note that on this page Lindbeck strikes rich chords in Luther’s theology, throwing light upon them from the difference between the cultural-linguistic versus the experiential-expressive paradigms of sociology. The relation of the inner and outer are reversed going from one to the other: “instead of deriving the external features of a religion from inner experience, [in the cultural-linguistic model] it is the inner experiences which are viewed as derivative.” “A religion [for this model] is above all an external word,…” The internal word is also crucially important, for its capacity of hearing and  accepting the true religion. Also see page 114, where Lindbeck notes the interesting difference between the immanence of meaning in the intra-textuality of the cultural-linguistic approach, as opposed to the extra-textuality of the other two paradigms. This throws light on Luther’s powerful sense of immanence, especially in a “text which absorbs the world.” p. 118. G. F. W. Hegel, whom I hold to be the philosopher of Luther’s theology, speaks of the “concept absorbing the world.” The immanence of the linguistic culture must be involved here, and it’s peculiar transcendence is performative.

[70]Ibid., p. 118.

[71]Peter von Polenz notes on page 138 that the September Testament of 1522, the first edition of which came out in three to five thousand copies was sold out in a few weeks at the price of about a weeks wages of a craftsman’s apprentice. The corrected  and improved December Testament was then published in Wittenberg,  and in a few months editions were published in Basel and Augsburg. In all fourteen authorized and sixty-six unauthorized editions were printed from 1522 to 1524. By my calculations then: if about  3,000 copies are in an edition, then about 240,000 printed New Testaments came into the hands of the people.: See Johannes Cochläus’ amazement already cited that common people disputed faith issues of the Gospel! Polenz, p. 252 (Of course, the complete Luther Bible with the Old Testament Exodus story came out later in 1534, after the Peasants’ War.)

[72]Note that because Luther did not write in middle low German, and the Hanseatic League was weakening, taken together with the fact that Bugenhagen made an atrocious translation of Luther’s Bible into this language, MLG, – the demise of low German as a literary language resulted. See von Polenz, p. 286ff. Luther’s September and December Testaments were not easily comprehensible to the low German speaking people of the North. If my theory about the role the Scriptures played in the Peasants’ War is valid, then this may have been one of the factors which excluded northern Germany and the low countries from it.

[73]Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Heiko A. Oberman, and James D. Tracy, editors, Handbook of European History 1400-1600, v.2, (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995), p. 172-173.

[74]Ibid., P. 174.

[75]Scott and Scribner, p. 101: A Procurator Fiscal complained that Schappeler is to have said: “God be praised the truth has now come to light after having for so long been repressed by the priests for their own purposes.” (To cite this again.)

[76]Luther is a good example for that. To display some of his dialectics and rhetoric for Erasmus he constructs a sentence that equates Scripture with creation: Duae res sunt Deus (et) Scriptura Dei, non minus quam duae res sunt Creator (et) creatura Dei. Hans-Ulrich Decius, Luther: Studien Ausgabe,III, (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1983),p. 184. WA,18,606.

[77]Lindbeck, p. 117-118. Intra-textuality or the word absorbing the world may be argued to be delusional. Referents are outside of the word. For much of the physical universe that could be argued, but another standpoint places a person inside even the physical universe, which is indeed true of our case. The sociological universe can be approached from inner participation and involvement or “objective” empirical detachment. But Wittgenstein’s description of interpreting a picture from the outside versus entering it as a participant (Thiselton, in the Scottish Journal, p.47) is not delusional as much as another way of knowing and experiencing.

[78]Ibid., p. 118.

[79]See Brady, Oberman, Tracy, p. 165.  The city of Memmingen was at loggerheads with their priests since 1494. They were acting out, and not only while Schappeler was instigating the reformation in the city: they flouted the council’s authority (For the sake of reform, Schappeler did, too.), marched through the streets at night, had drunken brawls, carried long knives, and were anything but exemplary, the city council complained. Note, however, that the religious may have been acting out because the civil authorities were trying to subordinate them. Traditionally they needed to answer only to their abbots and bishops.

[80]Lindbeck, p. 118-119.

[81]N.B. To generalize from this particular viewpoint would be problematic, except, as already noted, Peter Blickle uses this as a representative case for the urban reformation associated with the Popular Reformation. See Brady, Oberman, and Tracy, p. 164-165.

[82]In Akten zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges in Mitteldeutschland,II, (Scientia Verlag, Aalen, 1964), p. xxxvi, Walther Peter Fuchs argues that Luther’s stand against the revolt needs to be aware that he also provided the consciousness that led to it. To here argue that Luther provided the language, concurs. Language for Luther is the embodiment of consciousness.

[83]Peter von Polenz, Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart,v. I, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1991).

[84]Von Polenz, p. 271-272.

[85]Ibid., p. 275.

[86]Ibid., p. 271.

[87]Astrid, Stedje, Deutsche Sprache Gestern und Heute, (München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, GmbH & Co.KG, 1989), p. 115. She notes that Old High German was handed down to us by the spiritual estate, while the ideal of Middle High German is one the courtly knights helped shape, and Early New High German is the language that is primarily stamped by the speech of the cities. Thus Luther’s language absorbed the cities into its world.

[88]Finitum capax infiniti. P. v. Polenz tells of the Mainzer Archbishop Berthold v. Henneberg, a very powerful political figure who issued a Translation – Verbot (in 1484) of any Greek or Latin into German. The latter lacked the abundance of words (copia verborum) which Latin contained, and therefore was not capable of theological and scientific content, and, thus, translation would necessarily distort the truth. See von Polenz, p. 277.

[89]Perhaps their preaching the Word of God originated new orders going outside the monasteries. New monastic “charters” originated from the Word. Now new constitutions for the empire were becoming projected from the Word of God. A long process of monastics going out into the secular society continued from the friars preaching and competing with the “seculars,” to Luther’s becoming secular, to Jesuits living their ministries out in the world, to Max Weber finding secular people with inner-worldly asceticism.

[90]Peasants delighted in hearing him preach: “Give the lords what they are worth: nothing!” Scott and Scribner, p.234.

[91]P. Von Polenz, p. 286.

[92]Ibid., p. 279.

[93]Astrid, Stedje, p. 128. She also notes that in 1570 – 70% of all books were in Latin, while in 1770 only 17% still were.

[94]Von Polenz, p. 289.

[95]Ibid., p. 244.

[96]Ibid., p. 252 and 278. Peter von Polenz designates Luther’s translation of the Scriptures as a political revolt in language and speech.

[97]Ibid., p. 275.

[98]Ibid., p. 248-249.

[99] This effect comes from the failure, accidental or deliberate, to complete a sentence according to its structural plan. See W. F. Thrall, A. Hibbard, and C. H. Holman, A Handbook to Literature, (New York: The Odyssey Press, 1960), p.15.

[100]245.Ibid., p.

[101]LW, 33, 52-53. A remarkable detachment! Not often do we see this philosophical detachment in the very immanent Luther. Here Luther is still a prophet exuding the wrath of God. Later he will feel the tragedy and lament that he killed 100,000 peasants with his own pen. (in Table Talks?)

[102]Ibid, p. 52.

[103]James Preus, From Shadow to Promise, (Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 253-254. WA 4, 380, 15-18.

[104]Ibid., p. 247. WA 4.272, 16-24.

[105]Heiko Oberman, The Masters of the Reformation, (Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 296-297.

[106]Bernd Moeller, Luther Year Book, No 57:1990, p. 61.

[107]Ibid., p. 62.


Primary Sources

Tom Scott and Bob Sribner, translators and editors. The German Peasants‘ War. New Jersey: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1991.

Günter Franz. Quellen zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges. München: R. Oldenbourg, 1963.

Jeroslav Pelican, et. al., ed. Luther’s Works, v. 26, 33, 35, 39, 46, and 51. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1963 –  1970.

Hans-Ulrich Decius. Luther: Studien Ausgabe,III.  Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1983.

D. Martin Luthers Werke. (Kritische Gesamtausgabe) Bänder: 4, 10:2, and 18. Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1907.

Walther Peter Fuchs. Akten zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges in Mitteldeutschland,II. Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1964.

Secondary Sources for History

Peter Blickle. The Revolution of 1525. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977, 1981.

————-. “The Popular Reformation” in Thomas A. Brady, Jr.,   Heiko A. Oberman, and James D. Tracy, editors, Handbook of European History 1400-1600, v.II. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995.

Euan Cameron. The European Reformation. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991.

Berndt Hamm. Zwinglis Reformation der Freiheit. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1988.

George Lindbeck. The Nature of Doctrine. Philadelphia: The Westminister Press, 1984.

Bernd Moeller, “The Reception of Luther in the Early Reformation,” A Lecture for the International Congress of Luther Research, Oslo, August 14-20, 1988. Helmar Junghans, ed., Lutherjahrbuch. No 57:1990.

Heiko Oberman. The Masters of the Reformation. Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Heiko A. Oberman. “The Gospel of Social Unrest: 450 Years After the So-Called ‘German Peasants’ War’ of 1525.” Harvard Theological Review. 69 (1976), 103-129.

George H. Williams. The Radical Reformation. Third Edition.   Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc., 1992.

James Preus. From Shadow to Promise. Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard University Press, 1969.

J.M. Tuell and R.W. Fjeld, eds. Episcopacy: Lutheran-United Methodist Dialogue II. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1991.


Peter Burke. History and Social Theory. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1992.

Emil Durkheim. The Evolution of Educational Thought. London: Routledge & Kegan, 1977.

Mark Traugott, ed. Emil Durkheim On Institutional Analysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Ernst Gellner. Plough, Sword, and Book: the Structure of Human History. University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Language Study and the Philosophy of Language

Rev. A.C. Thiselton, “The Parables as Language-Event: Some Comments on Fuch’s Hermeneutics in the Light of Linguistic Philosophy,” in Scottish Journal of Theology. 23, 1970.

Peter von Polenz. Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart,v. I. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1991.

Astrid, Stedje. Deutsche Sprache Gestern und Heute. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, GmbH & Co.KG, 1989.

W. F. Thrall, A. Hibbard, and C. H. Holman, A Handbook to Literature. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1960.

J.L. Austin. How To Do Things With Words. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975.

John Searle. “How Performatives Work.” Linguistics and Philosophy 12, 535-558, 1989.

—————Expression and Meaning. Cambridge University Press, 1979.

—————The Construction of Social Reality. New York: the Free Press, 1995.

—————Making the Social World. Oxford University Press, 2010.


Written by peterkrey

December 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

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