Universität Erfurt

Projekt von Timothy Wright M.A.

“The Holy Life of the Early Christians”: Radical German Communities and Histories of the Early Church

Timothy Wright M.A.

My dissertation project explores and charts common reading of early church histories among radical German Pietists and the use of such histories as hand-books in building experimental Christian communities. Between the 1690s and the 1750s in central Germany, the reading of portrayals of a non-dogmatic, pious, and egalitarian early church (by such Pietist church historians as Gottfried Arnold) and the attempt to revive the practices and spirituality found therein constituted one of the most common activities of separatist German Pietists. The reading of a common set of Pietist church histories allowed an otherwise loose collection of disgruntled Protestants to 1) imagine a common, idealized form of Christianity with common practices and 2) experiment with new forms of lay, charismatic forms of worship and spirituality. Through this research, I hope to shed light on the intellectual networks linking radical Pietists as well as to show how the concerns of a few radical Protestants on the eve of the European Enlightenment led them to seek to resurrect the early church and how this fusion of new and old laid the roots for modern forms of Christianity such as charismatic evangelicalism.

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