Print vs. Preaching in the Spread of Protestant Ideas

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When considering the spread of Protestantism, it is essential to look at the role of printing and preaching. First, looking at printing, there is definitely a correlation between the rise of print and Protestantism, however print was only a substantial industry in countries like Germany, France and Italy, and even there, printed materials were only accessible to a literate minority. Second, the role of preaching must be considered, in spite of accusations by historians such as Susan Karant-Nunn, that it didn’t have a clear message and developed incoherently, this essay will argue that preaching via sermons and focusing on scripture was still as effective as pre-reformation sermons, as Luther and Calvin were very good orators. In addition, preaching was not just confined to the pulpit, oral communication among the general public, and the memorisation and recitation of catechism (the summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for religious instruction ) also helped to spread the Protestant ideas. A key factor when looking at the spread of Protestantism is the use of printing during this period. Luther, shortly after his Ninety-Five Theses (1517), during the 1520s, used pamphlets to spread his message and ideas around . It is clear by using the printing press Protestant ideas could be spread to a wider group of people from within Germany, to the rest of Europe and this “created a new reading public, who seized eagerly on the reformers’ ideas to form a large-scale ‘public opinion’” .There were also further implications as Andrew Pettegree and Matthew Hall point out “[the printed book] was absolutely paramount in first creating public interest in the controversies surrounding Luther, the... ... middle of paper ... ...6) pp. 19-20. Pettegree and Hall p.801. Ibid 804. Pettegree p.11. Scribner and Dixon pp. 19-20. Ibid p.18. Pettegree p.17 and p.23. Ibid p.19. Ibid p.20. Pettegree and Hall p.796. Gerald Strauss., 'Lutheranism and literacy: a reassessment' in Religion and society in early modern Europe 1500-1800, ed. By K. Von Greyerz (London: German Historical Institute, 1984), 109-123 (p.115). Ibid pp.10-11. Ibid p.10 Ibid p.117. Ibid p.114 Pettegree p.18. Ibid p.19. Martin Luther, 'On the Babylonish Captivity of the Church', (1520), in Culture and belief in Europe, 1450-1600 : an anthology of sources eds. by David Englander, et al. (Oxford, UK ; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell in association with the Open University, 1990) pp. 177-180 (p.180). Scribner and Dixon p.20. Pettegree, p.24. Ibid p.23. Ibid p.23-24.
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