C. Scott Dixon – Popular Astrology and Lutheran Propaganda in Reformation Germany

15 September, 2017 - MA Coursework

C. Scott Dixon, “Popular Astrology and Lutheran Propaganda in Reformation Germany,” History 84, no. 275 (July 1999).


In his “Popular Astrology and Lutheran Propaganda” C. Scott Dixon corroborates this Lutheran shift of considering, in addition to the gospels, that “the whole order and disorder of the heavens” also “spoke of God’s will . . ..” He sets this shift against the backdrop of not so theological Lutheran aspirations to hasten their conversion and salvation of the German people. Despite Luther’s belief that mere exposure to the word of God unobscured by elitist Latin would be the sole necessary and sufficient cause for salvation, Lutheran evangelism was progressing slowly in the eyes of its theologians: humanity was as sinfully indulgent as it had been; the doom portended by comets should do the trick (hence the titular “Propaganda”). Dixon complicates this sèmantik turn by qualifying that, for Lutherans, though God could intervene to alter the course of nature, this was not the same as the medieval Catholic conception of sacrality. For sixteenth-century Lutherans, in Dixon’s view, the material world was not a “repository of the sacred” but the relationship between God and nature was not completely severed, but instead became “rather a ‘weaker and more ill-defined form of sacrality’.” Curiously, reading Vermij, one is left with the impression that, if anything, the relationship between God and the natural world was strengthened, maximized, even.














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