In the newly published, critical edition of Birken’s handwritten manuscript, Birken inserts fictitious conversations that contain sacred poetry and prayers to God. This text, which belongs to a new genre of »exercises in sacred conversation« (»geistlichem Gesprächspiel«), serves the praxis pietatis in which the public proclamation of God’s Word is appropriated to private meditation. The added value of this conversational form is not only that it serves to edify, but also that it allows thoughts to freely fall into the mind that otherwise would not. Birken makes it clear that in conversation the Holy Spirit makes Himself known 1) within the plurality of interlocution, as well as 2) in the intensified form of the conversation, so that the presence of God is realized among the interlocutors (following Matt. 18:20) in the mutuum colloquium. Therefore, not only the proclamation from the pulpit, but also the devotional discussions become the vehicle of the Spirit’s presence. In this way, everyday rituals, such as getting out of bed, brushing one’s hair, and bathing the body, are explored according to their sacred and emblematic significance. Birken conceptualizes and practices this intermediality of the talking image, the painted word, and the pictorial conversation in such a way that this elevated rhetoric can be implemented through the medium of everyday speech.
This article explores a painting (circa 1562) by the Antwerp artist, Frans Floris (1519/1520-1570). Special attention is given to Floris’s work with both the iconographic traditions and the theological impulses of the Reformation and how Floris takes the transconfessional imagery of the hen and her brood (Mt. 23:27) and gives it a genuine Lutheran interpretation. One finds compelling evidence for this Lutheran interpretation in the many biblical citations included in the painting. The intermediality of word and image is highly relevant in view of the early modern era’s visual theology, within which the image-filled word and the speaking images work together in fruitful cooperation.
This article provides an overview of the history of exegesis of the book of Job in 16th and 17th century Lutheranism. Early reformers such as Johannes Bugenhagen, Johannes Brenz, and Hieronymus Weller, a pupil of Luther, published commentaries about this philologically as well as theologically difficult narration of the Old Testament. In the 17th century, interpreters of Job made use of a variety of literary forms, including lyrical poetry (e. g. Sigmund von Birken). A highlight of the Job exegesis in baroque Lutheranism lies in the comprehensive commentary published by Sebastian Schmidt of Strasburg in 1670. The article closes by paying particular attention to the iconography of the multi-part copper engraving, created by Albert Christian Kalle for the Job exegesis by the pastor Christoph Scultetus of Stettin in 1647.