Friday, November 4, 2011

Early modern German prophecy in print: the essential bibliography

While working on Printing and Prophecy, there were many books and articles on early printing, prophecy, and early modern culture that I needed to consult for some aspect of my research. However, there were only a few books where nearly every chapter was directly relevant. For now, I only have four books on the list:
  • Barnes, Robin Bruce. Prophecy and Gnosis: Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.
  • Leppin, Volker. Antichrist und Jüngster Tag: das Profil apokalyptischer Flugschriftenpublizistik im deutschen Luthertum 1548-1618. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999.
  • Mentgen, Gerd. Astrologie und Öffentlichkeit im Mittelalter. Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 2005.
  • Talkenberger, Heike. Sintflut: Prophetie und Zeitgeschehen in Texten und Holzschnitten astrologischer Flugschriften, 1488-1528. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1990.
I might add two honorable mentions:
  • Niccoli, Ottavia. Prophecy and People in Renaissance Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Lerner, Robert. The Powers of Prophecy: The Cedar of Lebanon Vision from the Mongol Onslaught to the Dawn of the Enlightenment. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.
Niccoli's focus is on Italy up through 1530, while most of Lerner's investigation of the "Cedar of Lebanon" prophecy deals with medieval texts, so these two works don't quite make it onto this list, but they would both be essential reading if the topic weren't so narrow.

Leppin, Mentgen, and Talkenberger all share Publizistik as an area of primary interest. Mentgen and Talkenberger deal with the earlier period (Mentgen actually starts in the 11th century), while Barnes and Leppin are both looking at Lutheran apocalypticism after 1550. Leppin takes pains to distance his work from Barnes, but I think unnecessarily; both books are valuable and complement each other. Leppin has the strongest theological focus, while Barnes, Mentgen, and Talkenberger are historians. Mentgen does an especially nice job refereeing earlier scholarly debates. In addition to a similar chronological and thematic focus, what all these books share is that they work closely with many primary sources. Their appendices and footnotes are invaluable sources for further research.

One consequence is that I spend more time arguing with these books than with most others, but not because the books are bad - they're not, they're fantastic works of scholarship. And that makes them worth arguing with.

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