Station: [941] 300 years ago

  • Bibelhaus Erlebnis Museum

This pictorial programme of the Lutheran Reformation comes from the Thirty Years War period. It was produced on the occasion of another centenary celebration: on 25 June 1630, Protestants celebrated the centenary of their origin through the so-called Augsburg Confession, also known as the Confessio Augustana. In 1530, Protestant rulers presented their doctrines to the emperor. You can see the scene as an image in the enlargement. Until today, the Augsburg Confession of 1530 is one of the principle documents for Protestants all over the world. Curiously, these miniatures are contained in a “Schraubtalerdose” – a flat, threaded box made from a coin for just this sort of content. It is also curious to note that the princely pair pictured on the coin belonged to the strictly Roman Catholic nobility in Vienna.

Then, 300 years ago, a decisive step in media history took place. In front of you, you can see the book that was published in around 6 million copies between 1710 and 1800: the so-called Canstein Bible from Halle, here with a preface from the year 1717 – the anniversary of the Reformation. Such huge editions are only possible through the laborious and expensive production of standing type. Baron von Canstein used his own wealth and drew in other funds to cast in 1710 the more than 1000 pages of the Luther Bible in lead and to bring the Bible into millions of homes using this standing type, far beyond the boundaries of the German-speaking area. Thus, until 1800 or so, the Bible really did have a home in every household. Two spiritual tendencies at this time underpinned education in all social strata: Pietism and Enlightenment.

The conflict of the Reformation period lead to the establishment of two different aims: one turned away from the quarrels in the teachings of the theologians and wanted to implement active charity in deeds. This is the devout ideology of so-called Pietism. Daily Bible readings were considered good form here and the writings of the Frankfurt theologian Philipp Jakob Spener, Pia Desideria, were ground-breaking. Even today, the practice of those times of drawing a Bible verse for every day still continues – the Daily Watchwords (Losungen) of the Moravian Church.

Others turned away from the quarrels of the theologians and sought a solution to the problems in reason – these are the representatives of the Enlightenment, also known as rationalism. In contrast to the biblical fidelity of Pietism comes Bible criticism, which over the next centuries would flourish in churches and universities just as much as some devout revivals.