Dr Stephen Pietsch on ‘The Pictorial Rhetoric of the Reformation’

Cranach’s Woodcut Illustrations for the Lord’s Prayer in the 1529 Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s Large Catechism

In Cranach’s woodcuts for the 1529 edition of Luther’s Large Catechism (published in Wittenberg), we observe very clearly the imprint of Luther’s narrative theological mindset on the artist, in which, as in his preaching and writing, Luther ‘collapses’ or ‘fuses’ the hearer’s immediate life experience into the biblical narrative. Cranach’s images bring scripture forward as the stuff of 1529 contemporary Christian life.

In these woodcuts we see the narrative of sixteenth-century life fused with the characters and events of the Bible. As the viewer of the woodcuts meditates on the accompanying text of the catechism, what also comes into view is the deep integration of law and gospel, justification and sanctification, doctrine and life, as realities that play out in the Christian’s life.

Dr Stephen Pietsch BTh MMin PhD

Stephen commenced as a lecturer at Australian Lutheran College in July 2008 after 19 years of parish ministry across the LCA. While teaching he has completed a Master of Ministry (Adelaide College of Divinity, 2012) and a PhD (Flinders University, 2014). He now researches in the areas of Reformation History, Luther studies, Pastoral Theology and the interface of theology and psychology.

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