The burden and the beast: An oracle of apocalyptic reform in early sixteenth-century Salzburg
AuthorMilway, Michael Dean, 1957-
AdvisorOberman, Heiko A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study investigates the relationship between apocalypticism, criticism of the church and ecclesiastical reform at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It focuses on Berthold Purstinger (1465-1543), bishop of Chiemsee (reg. 1508-1526), and forms a commentary on his apocalyptic treatise Onus ecclesiae (1519, 1524, 1531), about a demon-infested world in perilous times. Apocalypticism was more than a theological doctrine about the end of the world. It was a terrifying reality, the vestiges of which appeared in monstrous births, blood-red comets and horrific fires. Historians are only beginning to recognize the significance of apocalyptic thinking in late-medieval and early-modern Europe. This study challenges the assumption that apocalypticism grew deepest on the margins of society among radical sectarians. Purstinger was a conservative theologian and a respected bishop, at home in the heart of the church yet convinced of his place in the last days. Secondly, it shows that Purstinger's idea of reform was different from its late-medieval antecedents. He did not think of reform as the dawning of a "new era" before the end of time, nor as the healthy transformation of Christendom "in head and members." For Purstinger, reform and apocalypse were one an the same. He awaited the return of Christ, who, at the end of time, would reform the militant church as the triumphant church. Thirdly, this dissertation argues that anticlericalism in Purstinger's apocalyptic world was a preparation for reform, not only, as hitherto conceived, a manifestation of discontent that sparked reform efforts in reaction. Purstinger criticized the world because Christ was coming to judge it, and because God directed the faithful during the last days to criticize the abysmal lapse. The watchword admonition on the title-page of Onus ecclesiae is the bellicose statement from Ezekiel: "Go make war ... and start at my sanctuary" (Ezek. 9:5). That is to say, on the eve of the apocalypse, anticlericalism fed in part on God's injunction to the forerunners of Christ. Their criticism was a prelude to judgment--to the reformatio Christi.
Degree ProgramGraduate College