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Chapter Summary

This book is a study of the most important genre for the dissemination of ideas in early modern Germany, the postils, those collections of sermons or sermon outlines that saw massive distribution and were intended to be read aloud weekly from pulpits or to serve as models. Postils were the key instance of mediation between authorities and their subjects, between learned and unlearned, between what one can call elite and popular cultures. The chapter is a history of the development of Catholic postils and their print production in relation to those of the Evangelicals. Postils often lacked the precision and doctrinal finesse of the treatises favored by historians of theology, but there is no more telling example than the "Jews" in Johannes Eck's Postille exemplifies the ability of this genre's potential to transmit the opinions and information vital to a social history of ideas in the German Reformation.

Keywords: early modern Germany; German Reformation; Johannes Eck; postils; sermons



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