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Poltergeist The Prequel: Aspects Of Otherworldly Disturbances In Early Modern Times

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Chapter Summary

A poltergeist is a ?spirit unseen? in the strict sense of the word. For an explanation why ?poltergeist? seems to be an early modern word, one has to take a look at the history of theology. Spirits then would have the form of an interior, not a sensual perception, as it is required for a poltergeist. Throughout the Middle Ages, however, this formerly widely accepted view changed thoroughly. Above all, three literary genres structure the ever increasing appearance of spirits in the late Middle Ages: firstly, miracles, secondly, ?mirabilia?, and thirdly, examples in homily. Protestants required spirits as signs warning against the ways of the devil. Literature in this protestant context also serves to differentiate the empirical casuistry of spirits. In order to exemplify these circumstances this chapter examines some texts by protestant authors from the 17th century, texts construing the apparition of poltergeists.

Keywords: early modern word; late Middle Ages; poltergeist; protestants; spirits



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