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The Literature and Culture of Controversy in the Post-Interim Period

The long-term research and editorial project "Controversia et Confessio" has been based at and supported by the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz since 2007. It is integrated into the research programme of the Leibniz Institute of European History and also involves the cooperation of the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel.
The fully annotated collection of sources and supplementary material will document in nine volumes the theological controversies between the friends and followers of Luther and Melanchthon that occurred in reaction to the Augsburg Interim of 1548 and the alternative concept presented at the Diet of Leipzig in 1548/49 ("Leipzig Interim"). The edition focuses on theological-historical issues, which also had an impact in the social and political spheres. Based on a reception history perspective, it gathers together texts that were widely disseminated and provoked responses. This makes visible the processes of differentiation and identity formation that shaped confessionalism as it emerged in the late-16th century and still influence European society. It also becomes apparent that Augsburg Confession Protestantism was characterized by a level of theological diversity to which denominational labels and fixed categories do not do justice. The effects of this diversity manifested themselves throughout Europe in spite of the historical territorial contexts in which they emerged. These theologically motivated controversies occurred against the backdrop of the debates about the legacy of the Wittenberg Reformation, which was originally driven by Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Other important contexts were the ongoing re-definition of the relationship between religion and politics, and the search for an authority capable of showing the way forward in the context of the political and social challenges presenting themselves. These factors resulted in a struggle for theological and ethical authenticity, and a pluralization of positions. In terms of communication history, the project exposes the multifunctional dimensions of creed formation (Bekennntnisbildungen), as well as the literary and rhetorical richness of a theological "culture of controversy". The printed edition presents a selection of the central texts of each controversy, and comprehensive bibliographical information is available in the internet database of the project. The user can select an individual controversy, and the database gives many short summaries and provides biographical articles about the authors, which make it possible to trace the connections between them.

Five volumes of the collection have been published up to the present:
  • Vol. 1: Reaktionen auf das Augsburger Interim. Der Interimistische Streit (1548-1549), 2010.
  • Vol. 2: Der Adiaphoristische Streit (1548-1560), 2012.
  • Vol. 3: Der Majoristische Streit (1552-1570), 2014.
  • Vol. 4: Der Antinomistische Streit (1556-1571), 2016.
  • Vol. 8: Die Debatte um die Wittenberger Abendmahlslehre und Christologie (1570-1574), 2008. [online edition has additional functions.]
  • Vol. 9: Antitrinitarische Streitigkeiten. Die tritheistische Phase (1560-1568), 2013.
Further volumes will be published in two-year intervals, dealing with the Synergistic Controversy (1555-1560/61), the Original Sin Controversy (from 1560/61) and the Osiandrian Controversy (1549-1552).