Thursday, December 16, 2010

Going meta

So a little bit of research - namely, following up on the footnotes in Barnes's Prophecy and Gnosis - finds that the history and historiography of Johann Hilten has been untangled to a large degree by Hans-Ulrich Hofmann in an excursus (pp. 662-672) in his Luther und die Johannes-Apokalypse (Tübingen: Mohr, 1982). Hofmann admits that the picture is still murky and more remains to be done, but I don't know if there's enough left for a viable article on Hilten.

And that's good! If Hofmann has already taken care of the philological heavy lifting, then it's much easier to use Hilten as one of the leading examples of another phenomenon I've noticed lately, namely the pronounced interest in early 16th-century prophets in the late 16th and 17th centuries. I've run across several examples of prophecies allegedly first written before 1550 which don't appear in print until 60 or 100 years later. Another is the vision of Sigismund Gratman/Gartanar/Gadaner, supposedly from the year 1526, but with no edition earlier than 1621. There are several others as well. Early Lutheranism apparently becomes a preferred setting for prophecies in the late 16th century, and again during the 30 Years War. At least that's my first impression. Someone should write an article about it.

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