German mysticism

German mysticism, sometimes called Dominican mysticism or Rhineland mysticism, was a late medieval Christian mystical movement that was especially prominent within the Dominican order and in Germany. Although its origins can be traced back to Hildegard of Bingen, it is mostly represented by Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, and Henry Suso. Other notable figures include Rulman Merswin and Margaretha Ebner, and the Friends of God.

This movement often seems to stand in stark contrast with scholasticism and German Theology, but the relationship between scholasticism and German mysticism is debated. Viewed as a predecessor of the reformation, the contrast becomes very apparent. For example, the use of an approachable vernacular stands in stark contrast to the constrained Latin of the Scholastics, the increased focus on the laity stands in contrast to the more deeply sacramental understanding of the Church, and these elements are both taken up and transformed in the writings of Martin Luther. German mysticism can also be viewed as a practical application of Scholasticism. Though Meister Eckhart is most well known for his popular German sermons, he also wrote a lengthy philosophical exposition of the same teachings in Latin. Some scholars have read him as a rather orthodox Thomist, seeing his mysticism as flowing naturally from established teachings through Eckhart's own idiosyncrasies and exaggerations.

Some of the movement's characteristics:

Some in the movement came under criticism by the Church for heterodox or heretical opinions.

See also

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Abecedarians were a 16th-century German sect of Anabaptists who rejected all human learning. Questions have been raised as to the historical accuracy of the name and sect.


Andachtsbilder (singular Andachtsbild, German for devotional image) is a German term often used in English in art history for Christian devotional images designed as aids for prayer or contemplation. The images "generally show holy figures extracted from a narrative context to form a highly focused, and often very emotionally powerful, vignette". The term is especially used of Northern Gothic art around the 14th and 15th centuries, when new subjects such as the Pietà, Pensive Christ, Man of Sorrows, Arma Christi, Veil of Veronica, the severed head of John the Baptist, and the Virgin of Sorrows became extremely popular.The term was first devised for a group of mainly sculptural subjects, including the Pietà and Pensive Christ, that were thought to have emerged in convents in south-western Germany in the 14th century, although their history is now believed to be more complicated. In churches such images were often given a side-chapel, and sometimes are given special places in the rituals of Holy Week. For example, consecrated hosts might be stored in the cavity of the spear wound in a sculpted Pietà between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.Traditional subjects from the narrative of the Passion of Christ such as the Ecce Homo and the Crucifixion of Jesus were also treated in the same way. Though the Crucifix had been treated as an intense, isolated image for centuries, at least as far back as the 10th century Gero Cross in Cologne, many images showed a new emphasis on graphically depicted streaming blood, wounds and contorted poses. This process started around 1300, so the influence appears to be from the Crucifixion to other subjects. The traditional Ecce Homo is a very crowded scene, in which the figure of Christ is often less prominent than those of his captors, but in the andachtsbilder versions the other figures and complex architectural background have vanished, leaving only Christ, with a plain background in most painted versions (see the example by Antonello da Messina in the gallery below).

Andachtsbilder have a strong emphasis on the grief and suffering of Christ and the figures close to him. Their use was encouraged by movements such as the Franciscans, the Devotio Moderna and German mysticism in late medieval Europe, which promoted meditation on the sufferings of Christ by intense mental visualization ("imitation") of them and their physical effects. The most extreme, even gruesome, examples often came from the eastern edge of the Holy Roman Empire and beyond in Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic states, where large carved gobbets of congealed blood can cover the body. But the style spread all over Europe, including Italy, although the extremes of emotionalism were avoided there until the Baroque.

The term is often used specifically for small works intended for personal contemplation in the home. By the 15th century the emerging urban middle classes of Northern Europe were increasingly able to afford small paintings or carvings. The depiction was often very "close-up", with a half-length figure occupying nearly the whole picture space. Andachtsbilder subjects were also very common in prints. However larger works for churches or outdoor display are also covered by the term. By the mid-15th century andachtsbilder were influencing large monumental works, a process James Snyder discusses in relation to major works such as Rogier van der Weyden's Prado Deposition, the Isenheim Altarpiece of Matthias Grünewald and the carved Altarpiece of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The Mass of St Gregory, which included a vision of the Man of Sorrows, was a composition often used on altarpieces which took a common andachtsbilder subject and expanded it into a subject suitable for more monumental works.

The art historian Jeffrey F. Hamburger observed that the term has now "lost whatever precision it could ever lay claim to, having been applied to virtually any object that might have been used to stimulate devotional experience". Although works in the andachtsbilder tradition remained very popular in Catholic art for centuries, for example in Baroque Spain and Italy, the term is less likely to be applied to much later images. The English term "devotional image" or "picture" etc. can apply to a wide range of images, in all media, included modern commercially printed reproductions or prayer cards, especially those featuring a portrait-like image rather than a narrative scene.

Berleburg Bible

The Berleburg Bible (Berleburger Bibel) is a German translation of the Bible with copious commentary in eight volumes, compiled in Bad Berleburg during 1726–1742.

It is an original translation from the Hebrew and Greek, along with the Piscator-Bibel (1602–1604) among the first German translations independent of Luther's Bible.

It was the project of pietistic theologian Johann Friedrich Haug (1680–1753), his brother Johann Jacob Haug (1690–1756) and Berleburg pastor Ludwig Christof Schefer (1669–1731).

The brothers Haug had moved to Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 1720, at the time a center of radical pietism.

The biblical commentary has the aim of explaining "the inner state of spiritual life, or the ways and actions of God inside the souls towards their purification, enlightenment and unification with Him" influenced by earlier (17th-century) German mysticism and by the Philadelphians.

The Berleburg Bible was well received in 18th-century pietism, but its long-term influence remained comparatively minor due to its bulk, which imposed "natural limits" on its distribution.

A reprint was published in Stuttgart in 1856. A second edition was planned but never completed.

Brethren in Christ Church

The Brethren in Christ Church (BIC) is an Anabaptist Christian denomination with roots in the Mennonite church, pietism, and Wesleyan holiness. They have also been known as River Brethren and River Mennonites.

Dordrecht Confession of Faith

The Dordrecht Confession of Faith is a statement of religious beliefs adopted by Dutch Mennonite leaders at a meeting in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, on 21 April 1632. Its 18 articles emphasize belief in salvation through Jesus Christ, baptism, nonviolence (non-resistance), withdrawing from, or shunning those who are excommunicated from the Church, feet washing ("a washing of the saints' feet"), and avoidance of taking oaths.

It was an influential part of the Radical Reformation and remains an important religious document to many modern Anabaptist groups such as the Amish. In 1725, Jacob Gottschalk met with sixteen other ministers from southeastern Pennsylvania and adopted the Confession. They also wrote the following endorsement, which Gottschalk was the first to sign:

We the hereunder written Servants of the Word of God, and Elders in the Congregation of the People, called Mennonists, in the Province of Pennsylvania, do acknowledge, and herewith make known, that we do own the foregoing Confession, Appendix, and Menno's Excusation, to be according to our Opinion; and also, have took the same to be wholly ours. In Testimony whereof, and that we believe that same to be good, we have here unto Subscribed our Names.

Friends of God

The Friends of God (German: Gottesfreunde; or gotesvriunde) was a medieval mystical group of both ecclesiastical and lay persons within the Catholic Church (though it nearly became a separate sect) and a center of German mysticism. It was founded between 1339 and 1343 during the Avignon Papacy of the Western Schism, a time of great turmoil for the Catholic Church. The Friends of God were originally centered in Basel, Switzerland, and were also fairly important in Strasbourg and Cologne. Some late-nineteenth century writers made large claims for the movement, seeing it both as influential in fourteenth-century mysticism, and as a precursor of the Protestant Reformation. Modern studies of the movement, however, have emphasised the derivative and often second-rate character of its mystical literature, and its limited impact on medieval literature in Germany.

Glossary of Germanic mysticism

For more see List of magical terms and traditions Also, see the category 'Magical terms in Germanic mysticism'.

This is a list of magical terms in Germanic mysticism dealing with various occult practices, traditions, and components of magic within Odinism or Germanic Neopaganism. This list is not intended for topics like stage magic, illusion, or other entertainment-based definition. It is also not for strictly paranormal topics, such as those dealing with UFOs, aliens, ghosts, near-death experiences, ESP, or other such articles. This list should also not include terms not specific to German mysticism.

Jakob Böhme

Jakob Böhme (; German: [ˈbøːmə]; 24 April 1575 – 17 November 1624) was a German philosopher, Christian mystic, and Lutheran Protestant theologian. He was considered an original thinker by many of his contemporaries within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as Aurora, caused a great scandal. In contemporary English, his name may be spelled Jacob Boehme; in seventeenth-century England it was also spelled Behmen, approximating the contemporary English pronunciation of the German Böhme.

Johannes Bureus

Johannes Thomae Bureus Agrivillensis (Johan Bure) (1568–1652) was a Swedish antiquarian, polymath and mystic. He was royal librarian, tutor, and adviser of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.

John Dobree Dalgairns

John Dobree Dalgairns (21 October 1818 – 6 April 1876), English Roman Catholic priest, was born in Guernsey.

Magisterial Reformation

The Magisterial Reformation is a phrase that "draws attention to the manner in which the Lutheran and Calvinist reformers related to secular authorities, such as princes, magistrates, or city councils", i.e. "the magistracy". While the Radical Reformation rejected any secular authority over the Church, the Magisterial Reformation argued for the interdependence of the church and secular authorities, i.e. "The magistrate had a right to authority within the church, just as the church could rely on the authority of the magistrate to enforce discipline, suppress heresy, or maintain order."In addition, the term magister relates to the emphasis on authoritative teachers. Often this is seen in the names of theological schools descending from magisterial reformers (e.g. Lutheran, Calvinist, and Zwinglian).

Menahem Recanati

Menahem ben Benjamin Recanati (1223–1290) (Hebrew: מנחם בן בנימין ריקנטי‎) was an Italian rabbi who flourished during the thirteenth century . He devoted the chief part of his writings to the Kabbala.

Nonconformity to the world

Nonconformity to the world, also called separation from the world, is a Christian doctrine based on Romans 12:2, 2. Corinthians 6:17 and other verses of the New Testament that became important among different Protestant groups, especially among Anabaptist. The corresponding German word used by Anabaptists is Absonderung. Nonconformity is primarily expressed through the practices of plain dress and simple living.

Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference

The Ohio-Indiana Mennonite Conference, also called Wisler Mennonites, is an Old Order Mennonite church body, whose Ordnung allows the ownership and private use of cars. They are quite similar to the Weaverland Old Order Mennonite Conference.

Pietà (Southern German, Cloisters)

Pietà (German: Vesperbild) a small painted wood sculpture dated to c. 1375–1400, now in the collection of the Cloisters, New York. Very little is known of it, except that is probably of southern German origin. The statuette emphasises the suffering of both the Virgin and Jesus Christ.Mary is shown in grief and mourning, holding the body of her son on her lap, as she leans over him and faces towards his crown of thorns. Christ body is emaciated, shrunken, decomposing and lacerated with the wounds of his crucifixion. Because of its small size and intimacy, the Pietà was probably not intended for a main church altar, rather for either a side altar or home altar to be viewed by those in repentance.Its stylistic characteristics, including its iconography, pathos, austerity, high reliefs and links to 13th century German mysticism texts, suggest it probably came from, or near, the Rhine Valley.

Protestant Reformers

Protestant Reformers were those theologians whose careers, works and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.

In the context of the Reformation, Martin Luther was the first reformer (sharing his views publicly in 1517), followed by people like Andreas Karlstadt and Philip Melanchthon at Wittenberg, who promptly joined the new movement. In 1519, Huldrych Zwingli became the first reformer to express a form of the Reformed tradition.

Listed are the most influential reformers only. They are listed by movement, although some reformers (e.g. Martin Bucer) influenced multiple movements.

For a full and detailed list of all known reformers, see List of Protestant Reformers.

Radical Reformation

The Radical Reformation was the response to what was believed to be the corruption in both the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland in the 16th century, the Radical Reformation gave birth to many radical Protestant groups throughout Europe. The term covers both radical reformers like Thomas Müntzer, Andreas Karlstadt, groups like the Zwickau prophets and Anabaptist groups like the Hutterites and Mennonites.

In parts of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, a majority sympathized with the Radical Reformation despite intense persecution. Although the surviving proportion of the European population that rebelled against Catholic, Lutheran and Zwinglian churches was small, Radical Reformers wrote profusely and the literature on the Radical Reformation is disproportionately large, partly as a result of the proliferation of the Radical Reformation teachings in the United States.

Schwenkfelder Church

The Schwenkfelder Church (listen ) is a small American Christian body rooted in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation teachings of Caspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig (1489–1561).

The Friend of God from the Oberland

The Friend of God from the Oberland (Der Gottesfreund vom Oberland, sometimes translated as "the friend of God from the Upland," or "the mysterious layman from the Oberland") was the name of a figure in Middle Ages German mysticism, associated with the Friends of God and the conversion of Johannes Tauler. His name comes from the Bernese Oberland.

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