© 2019

Hope and Heresy

The Problem of Chiliasm in Lutheran Confessional Culture, 1570–1630


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxix
  2. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 1-35
  3. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 37-71
  4. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 73-98
  5. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 99-126
  6. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 127-151
  7. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 153-169
  8. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 171-187
  9. Leigh T. I. Penman
    Pages 189-195
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 197-275

About this book


Apocalyptic expectations played a key role in defining the horizons of life and expectation in early modern Europe. Hope and Heresy investigates the problematic status of a particular kind of apocalyptic expectation—that of a future felicity on earth before the Last Judgement—within Lutheran confessional culture between approximately 1570 and 1630.

Among Lutherans expectations of a future felicity were often considered manifestations of a heresy called chiliasm, because they contravened the pessimistic apocalyptic outlook at the core of confessional identity. However, during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, individuals raised within Lutheran confessional culture—mathematicians, metallurgists, historians, astronomers, politicians, and even theologians—began to entertain and publicise hopes of a future earthly felicity. Their hopes were countered by accusations of heresy. The ensuing contestation of acceptable doctrine became a flashpoint for debate about the boundaries of confessional identity itself.

Based on a thorough study of largely neglected or overlooked print and manuscript sources, the present study examines these debates within their intellectual, social, cultural, and theological contexts. It outlines, for the first time, a heretofore overlooked debate about the limits and possibilities of eschatological thought in early modernity, and provides readers with a unique look at a formative time in the apocalyptic imagination of European culture.


Book history Chiliasmus subtilis Chiliasm Confessionalization thesis Devotional literature Early modern confessional culture History of Lutheranism Millenarianism and millennialism Millennialism Protestant heresy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Advanced Studies in the HumanitiesUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

About the authors

Leigh T.I. Penman is a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland, Australia. 

Bibliographic information