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Grief and Consolation in Early Modern Lutheran Devotion: The Case of Johannes Christoph Oelhafen's Pious Meditations on the Most Sorrowful Bereavement (1619)1

  • Ronald K. Rittgers

This article seeks to make an original contribution to the study of early modern Christian devotion by examining a source that has received no scholarly attention of any kind: Johannes Christoph Oelhafen's Pious Meditations on the Most Sorrowful Bereavement (1619). Oelhafen, a prominent Nuremberg lawyer, composed the Pious Meditations shortly after his wife, Anna Maria, died. He did so in order to console himself and his eight children in the midst of their considerable grief. Drawing on well-known rhetorical devices and consolatory remedies, Oelhafen produced a work of private devotion that is remarkable in terms of its rich affectivity and considerable artistic skill. The Pious Meditations was never published, rather Oelhafen intended it for a private circle of intimates, especially his children and their posterity. The work illustrates especially well the theme of spiritual self-care that was so prominent in early modern Lutheran devotion. The Pious Meditations also demonstrates how creative and resourceful early modern Christians could be as they sought to contend with mortality, loss, despair, the obligations of parenthood, and the frequently mysterious workings of providence.

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2 For biographical information on Oelhafen, see the relevant articles in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (hereafter ADB), 56 vols., Historische Kommission bei der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften (München/Leipzig: Duncker and Humblot, 1875–1912), 24:296–298 and Neue Deutsche Biographie (hereafter NDB), 24 vols., Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 1953 -), 19:438. Both of these articles are available online at (The ADB is also available in a second unchanged print edition: Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften [Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 1967–1971].) See also Will, Georg Andreas, Nürnbergisches Gelehrten-Lexicon (Altdorf, 1802–1808; repr. Neustadt an der Aisch: C. Schmidt, 1997–1998), Band 3: 61–3; Deutsches biographisches Archiv: Eine Kumulation aus 254 der wichtigsten biographischen Nachschlagwerke für den deutschen Bereich bis zum Ausgang des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, microfiche edition (München and New York: Saur, 1982), vol. I, 911: 218224; Apinus, Sigismundus Jacobus, Vitae et Effigies Procancellariorum Academiae Altorfinae (Nürnberg: Tauber, 1721), 1019; von Oelhafen, Sigmund Christoph, ed. and trans., Zwei Reden zum Gedächtnis an die Prokanzler der Universität Altdorf: Dr. Johannes Christoph und Dr. Tobias Oelhafen von Schölnbach (Nürnberg, 1891), Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Historisches Archiv (hereafter GNM-HA), Familienarchiv von Oelhafen, Rep. II/80, Nr. 120; Familienbuch, welches z. Zt. noch fortgesetzt wird, GNM-HA, Familienarchiv von Oelhafen, Rep. II/80, Nr. 22, fols. 313–330; and Biedermann, Johann Gottfried, Geschlechtsregister des Hochadelischen Patriciats zu Nürnberg (Bayreuth, 1748), Tabvla CCCLVII.

3 See Biedermann Geschlechtsregister, Tabvla CXLIX. No further information is available about Anna Maria aside from the brief family history provided below.

4 The couple married on May 25, 1601. See ADB 24:298, and Biedermann Geschlechtsregister, Tabvla CCCLVII. Anna Maria bore thirteen children in almost eighteen years of marriage. For the names of the children, see idem, tables CCCLVII-CCCLVIII. Eight survived into adulthood. At the time of Anna Maria's death their ages ranged from fifteen to two-and-a-half years old.

5 According to Apinus, Oelhafen lived with Anne Maria “octodecim annos suavissime.” See Vitae et Effigies, 16. The Oelhafen Familienbuch similarly records that Johannes Christoph enjoyed a “gantz liebreichte und gesegnete ehe” with Anna Maria. See fol. 327. We do not know if Anna Maria held the same lofty opinion of their marriage, as we have no sources from her own hand.

6 The Latin title is Piae mediationes vidvitatis, ehev moestissimae. The majority of the work is in German. An alternative translation of the title would be Pious Meditations on the Most Sorrowful Widowhood (or, less elegantly, Widowerhood). “Vidvitas” carries both the general meaning of bereavement and the more specific meaning of widowhood. Because widowhood almost always refers to a woman in American English, and because the masculine alternative, widowerhood, is a rather awkward and seldom used word, I have opted for the more common and more elegant bereavement.

7 The entry on Johannes Christoph in the Oelhafen Familienbuch mentions his “hinderlassene Volumina und Diaria, worinnen er in einer vortrefflichen Ordnung unzehliche Locos communes tam juridicos quam Theologicos et Philosophicos, und sonst viel merckwürdiges aus täglicher Erfarung eigenhändig eingetragen,” but there is no specific reference to his Piae Memoriae. See fol. 327.

8 See discussion of Oelhafen's personal library below.

9 The work is cataloged in the GNM-HA as the Gebetbuch des Hans Christoph Oelhafen, Familienarchiv von Oelhafen, Rep. II/80, Nr. 32. This title is somewhat misleading, for the work is much more than a prayerbook, as the title that Oelhafen gave it clearly indicates.

10 See Steiger, Johann Anselm, “Die Gesichts- und Theologie-Vergessenheit der heutigen Seelsorgelehre: Anlaß für einen Rückblick in den Schatz reformatorischer und orthodoxer Seelsorgeliteratur,” Kerygma und Dogma 39 (Jahrgang, 1993/1, Januar/März): 6487, here pp. 75–76. Steiger's larger project has been to revitalize interest in Lutheran Orthodoxy by providing fresh editions of some of the period's most important sources, and, especially, by seeking to demonstrate that this period in Lutheran history was not marked by a divide between theology and piety, as has been traditionally maintained. According to Steiger, the period emphasized sophisticated theological formulation and heartfelt devotion to Christ; both intellect and affect were highly valued in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Lutheranism. See the relevant notes below. On the importance of self-consolation in this period, see also Linton, Anna, Poetry and Parental Bereavement in Early Modern Lutheran Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 4345.

11 For the Nuremberg edition, see Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts (hereafter VD 16), 25 vols. (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1983–2000), here item H 5461. The VD 16 can be accessed at

12 Kolb, Robert, A Booklet of Comfort for the Sick, & On the Christian Knight by Johann Spangenberg (1548) (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2007), 60 (German), 61 (English).

13 VD 16, ZV 14614.

14 Johann Will relays in a 1611 funeral sermon for Nuremberger Carl Tetzel how the deceased consoled himself with verses from Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16. Based on these verses the deceased would say to himself, “Christus ist mein Gerechtigkeit.” Will praises Tetzel for this exercise of self-consolation and assures his hearers that Christ was indeed the deceased's righteousness and that he is now with Him in heaven. Eine Christliche Leichpredigt/ Vber den Abschied ond [sic] Begra[e]gnuß/ Weiland deß Edlen/ Ehrnvesten/ Fu[e]rsichtigen vnd Weisen Herrn Carl Tetzels/ uff Kirchensittenbach vnd Vorra/ deß Innern vnd Kriegs-Rahts zu Nu[e]rnberg, Herzog August Bibliothek (hereafter HAB) 190.22 Theol (3), fols. Aii v-Aiii r. On funeral sermons, see especially Moore, Cornelia Niekus, Patterned Lives: The Lutheran Funeral Biography in Early Modern Germany (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006), and Bepler, Jill, “Practicing Piety: Representations of Women's Dying in German Funeral Sermons of the Early Modern Period,” in Women and Death 3: Women's Representations of Death in German Culture Since 1500, eds. Bielby, Clare and Richards, Anna (Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2010), 1230.

15 Steiger, Johann Anselm, Medizinische Theologie. Christus Medicus und Theologia Medicinalis bei Martin Luther und im Luthertum der Barockzeit (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005), 106. On the importance of self-care in pre-Reformation vernacular medical literature, see Russell, Paul A., “Syphylis, God's Scourge or Nature's Vengeance? The German Printed Response to a Public Problem in the Early Sixteenth Century,” Archive for Reformation History 80 (1989): 286287.

16 See Resch, Claudia, Trost im Angesicht des Todes. Frühe reformatorische Anleitungen zur Seelsorge an Kranken und Sterbenden (Tübingen and Basel: A. Francke Verlag, 2006), 114.

17 On the plight of private confession in the German Reformation, see Ronald K. Rittgers, , The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004). On the importance of laypeople becoming their own confessors, see especially pp. 205–206. On this theme, see also Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 7.

18 Karant-Nunn, Susan C., The Reformation of Feeling: Shaping the Religious Emotions in Early Modern Germany (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 96, 97, 105, 178, 201, 226, 251–252.

19 For an introduction to ego-documents in the early modern period, see von Greyerz, Kaspar, ed., Selbstzeugnisse in der Frühen Neuzeit: Individualisierungsweisen in interdisziplinärer Perspektive (München: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2007). [It should be noted that von Greyerz prefers the term “self-narratives” to “ego-documents.” See his Ego-Documents: The Last Word?German History 28:3 (September 2010): 273–82.] See also Schmid, Barbara, Schreiben für Status und Herrschaft: deutsche Autobiographik in Spätmittelalter und früher Neuzeit (Zürich: Chronos, 2006), and Velten, Hans Ruldolf, Das selbst geschriebene Leben: Eine Studie zur deutschen Autobiographie im 16. Jahrhundert (Heidelberg: Unversitätsverlag C. Winter, 1995). For studies of ego-documents from early modern Nuremberg, see the following: Ozment, Steven, Magdalena and Balthasar: An Intimate Portrait of Life in 16th-Century Europe Revealed in the Letters of a Nuremberg Husband and Wife (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989); idem, Three Behaim Boys: Growing Up in Early Modern Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); idem, Flesh and Spirit: Private life in Early Modern Germany (New York: Viking, 1999); and Beer, Matthias, Eltern und Kinder des späten Mittelalters in ihren Briefen: Familienleben in der Stadt des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit mit besonderer Berücksichtigung Nürnbergs (1400–1550) (Nürnberg: Stadtarchiv Nürnberg, 1990).

20 On this goal, see Kaufmann, Thomas, Geschichte der Reformation (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig: Verlag der Weltreligionen, 2009), 630. On early modern confessionalization, see Brady, Thomas A. Jr., “Confessionalization: The Career of a Concept,” in Confessionalization in Europe, 1555–1700: Essays in Honor and Memory of Bodo Nischan, eds. Headley, John M., Hillerbrand, Hans J., and Papalas, Anthony J. (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2004), 120; and Lotz-Heumann, Ute, “Confessionalization,” in Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research, ed. Whitford, David M. (Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2008), 136157.

21 On the Oelhafen family, see NDB (1999), 19:437–439. For bibliographical information on the Hausdörffer and Oelhafen families, see Friedrich, Gunther, Bibliographie zum Patriziat der Reichsstadt Nürnberg (Nürnberg: Selbstverlag des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg, 1994), 106109 and 62–67. See also Diefenbacher, Michael and Endres, Rudolf, eds., Stadtlexikon Nürnberg (Nürnberg: W. Tümmels Verlag, 2000), 410411, 776–777.

22 See von Imhoff, Christoph, ed., Berühmte Nürnberger aus neun Jahrhunderten (Nürnberg: Verlag Albert Hofmann, 1984), 66.

23 Other members of the Oelhafen family settled in Leipzig and Breslau. See Diefenbacher and Endres, Stadtlexikon Nürnberg, 776.

24 On Sixtus Oelhafen, see ADB 24:292–296, Imhoff, Berühmte Nürnberger, 65–66, and Friedrich, Bibliographie zum Patriziat der Reichsstadt Nürnberg, 107–108 (items 1000, 1003, 1006, 1007, 1008, and 1009).

25 On the structure of Nürnberg's civic government, see Rittgers, Reformation of the Keys, 14–18.

26 See Imhoff, Berühmte Nürnberger, 66. The coat of arms was improved after Sixtus's first marriage.

27 ADB 24:295.

28 Sixtus married Anna Pfinzing in 1501 (d. 1506) and Barbara Rieter in 1508.

29 ADB 24:295–296.

30 See Kamann, Johannes, “Aus Hans Ölhafens Reisetagebuch (1541–1580),” Mitteilungen des Vereins für die Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 5 (1884): 224225. Hans Oelhafen's diary is in the GNM-HA, Rst. Nürnberg, Ölhafen/ 6, Nr. XVIII, Hans Ölhafens Tagebuch, 1541–1580.

31 The Oelhafens were granted the ability to serve as judges (Gerichtsfähigkeit) in Nuremberg in 1546. See Imhoff, Berühmte Nürnberger, 66, and Diefenbacher and Endres, Stadtlexikon Nürnberg, 776. In 1538, during Hans's period of study and travel, the Oelhafen family acquired Ober- and Unterschöllenbach (in 1538) from the family Rech von Rechenberg. From this point on the Oelhafens were known as the family Oelhafen von Schöllenbach. Imhoff, Berühmte Nürnberger, 66.

32 On the marriage of Hans and Sybilla, see Bösch, Hans, “Verlobung und Verehelichung in Nürnberg im 16. Jahrhundert,” Mitteilungen des Germanischen Museums (1893): 4153.

33 Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister, Tabvla CCCXLIV. On Susanna, see Tabvla CLVI.

34 Familienbuch (see note 2 above), fol. 314.

35 On the history of this academy, which began in Nuremberg owing to the efforts of Melanchthon, and would evolve into the University of Altdorf, see Mährle, Wolfgang, Academica Norica. Wissenschaft und Bildung an der Nürnberger Hohen Schule in Altdorf (1575–1623) (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2000), 43107; Leder, Klaus, Universität Altdorf: Zur Theologie der Aufklärung in Franken; Die theologische Fakultät in Altdorf, 1750–1809 (Nürnberg: Lorenz Spindler Verlag, 1965), 710; and Kunstmann, Heinrich, Die Nürnberger Universität Altdorf und Böhmen: Beitrage zur Erforschung der Ostbeziehungen deutscher Universitäten (Köln and Graz: Böhlau Verlag, 1963), 119.

36 At the University of Bologna Johannes Christoph received the honorary title of “Praeses nationis Germanicae.” He received a similar honor while in Orleans. ADB 24:296.

37 ADB 24:296.

38 The fullest account of this event may be found in Apinus, Vitae et Effigies, 13–15.

39 Will, Nürnbergisches Gelehrten-Lexicon, 3:61.

40 Piae Meditationes, entry 29, 16 May.

41 On the duties of a Rechtskonsulent in early modern Nuremberg, see Kunstmann, Die Nürnberger Universität Altdorf und Böhmen, 87. In brief, the task of the legal advisor was to prepare Rechtsgutachten or legal opinions (both written and oral) for the Smaller Council to consider on various matters. The legal advisor was not a member of the Smaller Council, something that was forbidden in Nuremberg, but his opinions typically exercised great influence over its policies. On the legal history of Nuremberg, see Pfeiffer, Gerhard, ed., Nürnberg–Geschichte einer europäischen Stadt (München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 1971), 171176.

42 Anna Maria's paternal grandfather, Wolff I Harsdörffer (1502–1572), was the brother of Johannes Christoph's maternal grandfather, Christoph I Harsdörffer (1505–1578). On the Protestant effort to allow such a marriage, which would was forbidden by the church's traditional teaching on consanguinity, see Ozment, Steven, When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), 4448. Anna Maria had five siblings, at least three of whom survived her. See Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister, Tabvula CXLIX. Both of her parents predeceased her.

43 Sigmund Christoph von Oelhafen, Zwei Reden zum Gedächtnis an die Prokanzler der Universität Altdorf, 12.

44 See Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen-Nürnberg, Handschriftenabteilung, Ms. 2436, fols. 60v, 127–131v. I am grateful to Frau Sigrid Kohlmann for providing me with a copy of the inventory of Oelhafen's non-juridical books housed in the manuscript library of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

45 The Oelhafen coat of arms may still be seen on the wall of one of the rooms in Melanchthon's home in Wittenberg. Hans Oelhafen likely had it painted there.

46 See Kunstmann, Die Nürnberger Universität Altdorf und Böhmen, 134. On the place of Nuremberg in the Thirty Years, War, see Pfeiffer, Nürnberg–Geschichte einer europäischen Stadt, 265–279.

47 On the presence of Calvinism in the officially Lutheran Nuremberg, along with a resurgent Catholicism and various forms of Spiritualism, see Pfeiffer, Nürnberg–Geschichte einer europäischen Stadt, 279–283.

48 Mährle, Academica Norica, 483.

49 Familienbuch, fol. 313.

50 On Saubert, see van Dülmen, Richard, Orthodoxie und Kirchenreform: Der Nürnberger Prediger Johannes Saubert (1592–1646) (München: Beck, 1970); ADB 30:413–415; and NDB 22:447–448.

51 On the close friendship between Gerhard and Saubert, see van Dülmen, Orthodoxie und Kirchenreform, 646. See also Sommer, Wolfgang, “Johann Sauberts Eintreten für Johann Arndt im Dienst einer Erneuerung der Frömmigkeit,” in Politik, Theologie und Frömmigkeit im Luthertum der Frühen Neuzeit. Ausgewählte Aufsätze (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), 243.

52 For a treatment of Gerhard along with a general overview of mysticism in the late Reformation, see Steiger, Johann Anselm, Johann Gerhard (1582–1637): Studien zu Theologie und Frömmigkeit des Kirchenvaters der lutherischen Orthodoxie (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1997), chapter 1, especially pp. 54–89. On Arndt, see Schmidt, Martin, “Arndt, Johann (1555–1621),” in Theologische Realenzyklopädie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1979), 4:121–29, and Wallmann, Johannes, “Reflexionen und Bemerkungen zur Frömmigkeitskrise des 17. Jahrhunderts,” in Krisen des 17. Jahrhunderts, ed. Jakubowski-Tiessen, Manfred (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), 2542. For a facsimilie edition of Arndt's famous work, see Steiger, Johann Anselm, ed., Johann Arndt: Vier Bücher von wahrem Christenthumb, Die erste Gesamtausgabe (1610), 3 vols. (Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2007).

53 Van Dülmen writes, “Der bekannteste und erste Förderer Arndtscher Frömmigkeit war in Nürnberg Johannes Saubert” (Orthodoxie und Kirchenreform, 718). See also Sommer, “Johann Sauberts Eintreten für Johann Arndt im Dienst einer Erneuerung der Frömmigkeit.”

54 The inscription reads in full:

“Tuta via est alibi, per AMICI fallere
Hic sed AMICO etiam fidere,
tuta via est.
O' raras Fidei rarae tabulas! In
OLHAFIUS qvis sit, discimus,
et qvid amet.”

55 Saubert wrote a work of devotion in 1619 that could have influenced Oelhafen, but it does not appear to be extant: Schola crucis oder christliche kreutzschule. On Saubert's later importance in the production of devotional literature (and images) for lay ministry to the sick and dying, see Bepler, “Practicing Piety,” 21.

56 See note 7 above. Under Oelhafen's name on the opening epitaph there is a Latin motto that stresses his love of his wife and his books: “DILECTISS. EIVS CONIVG. ET LIBERORVM.”

57 The relevant entries in the ADB and Will, Nürnbergisches Gelehrten-Lexicon, set the number of volumes at 1040, while the most recent work shows that Oelhafen had amassed 1900 works bound in 1400 volumes or more. See Werner, Gunda and Schmidt-Herrling, Eleonore, Die Bibliotheken der Universität Altdorf (Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1937), 3435. A more recent source sets the number of volumes at “1500 Bde Rechtsliteratur.” See Dünninger, Eberhard, ed., Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, vol. 11 (Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms-Weidmann, 1997), 263, section 1.19. However, it is clear that Oelhafen's library contained more than jurisprudence. These statistics are based on the number of volumes belonging to Oelhafen that wound up in the library of the University of Altdorf. As noted above, this library eventually came to be housed in the library of the University of Erlangen after the school in Altdorf was closed in 1809.

58 See Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen-Nürnberg, Handschriftenabteilung, Ms. 2436, fols. 60v, 127–131v. On the anicent and medieval consolation tradition, see Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 2. Oelhafen cites Boethius at one point in the Pious Meditations (6 January, 1620), but there are no other direct references to the Christian consolation tradition. Oelhafen owned a work by Julius Caesar Scaliger—his Vita—but not the influential Poetices libri septem, which in Book III, ch. cxxiii, codified ancient consolation conventions. On the significance of this work, see Carrdus, Anna, Classical Rhetoric and the German Poet 1620 to the Present: A Study of Opitz, Bürger and Eichendorff (Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, 1996), 29.

59 On this literature, see Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement; Carrdus, Classical Rhetoric and the German Poet; idem, “‘Thränen = Tüchlein für Christliche Eltern’: Consolation Books for Bereaved Parents in Sixteenth- und Seventeenth-Century Germany,” German Life and Letters XLIX:1 (January 1996): 1–17; and idem, “Consolatory Dialogue in Devotional Writings by Men and Women of Early Modern Protestant Germany,” The Modern Language Review 93 (1998): 411–427.

60 On this literature, see Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 414.

61 See Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 414.

62 See Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 414, and Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement, 98.

63 See Sigmund Christoph von Oelhafen, Zwei Reden zum Gedächtnis an die Prokanzler der Universität Altdorf, 12.

64 See Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 419.

65 For a discussion of these and other rhetorical figures and their use in early modern Lutheran consolation literature, see Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 415.

66 For parallels in other sources, see Carrdus, “‘Thränen = Tüchlein für Christliche Eltern,’” 12–14; idem, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 420–421; and Bepler, “Practicing Piety,” 23.

67 For other examples, see Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 417, 419; and Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement, 79–85.

68 Carrdus, “‘Thränen = Tüchlein für Christliche Eltern,’” 11.

69 Ibid., 15.

70 Carrdus, “Consolatory Dialogue,” 414.

71 Oelhafen did not own Lipsius's On Consolation. For the place of this work in the Lutheran consolation tradition, see Carrdus, Classical Rhetoric and the German Poet 1620, 47, and Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement, 187. For a discussion of the work's general influence in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, see Sellars, John, ed., Justus Lipsius, On Constancy: De Constantia translated by Sir John Stradling (1595) (Exeter: Bristol Phoenix, 2006), introduction.

72 Walther, Georg, Trostbüchlein aus der heiligen Schrift und D. Martini Lutheri Bücher (1573, Nuremberg), fol. Q6v. Cited in Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement, 29.

73 Luther's candor was influenced by his reading of German mystics such as Johannes Tauler and the anonymous Theologia Deutsch. See Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 4. Johann Anselm Steiger has linked such candor in the Lutheran consolation literature to Luther's unique Christology, according to which the divine nature of Christ participated in His suffering in a way that was without precedent in the Christian tradition. Steiger maintains that the belief that God Himself—and not just Christ's human nature—participated in the Passion of the God-Man both consoled early modern Lutherans and encouraged the development of an affectivity that was unique in early modern Christianity. See Steiger, Johann Anselm, “Zorn Gottes, Leiden Christi und die Affekte der Passionbetrachtung bei Luther und im Luthertum des 17. Jahrhunderts,” in Passion, Affekt und Leidenschaft in der Frühenneuzeit, ed. Steiger, Johann Anselm (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), 1:179201. For a critical though appreciative response to this argument, see Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 8.

74 See the works of Cornelia Niekus Moore, Jill Bepler, Anna Carrdus, and Anna Linton cited above.

75 See Resch, Trost im Angesicht des Todes, and Reinis, Austra, Reforming the Art of Dying: The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519–1528) (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2007).

76 See Karant-Nunn, The Reformation of Feeling, and Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering.

77 Bepler, “Practicing Piety,” 16–17. See also, idem, “Enduring Loss and Memorializing Women: The Cultural Role of Dynastic Widows in Early Modern Germany,” in Enduring Loss in Early Modern Germany, ed. Tatlock, Lynne (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2010), 131–60, see especially 142–43.

78 It is possible that portions of the Pious Meditations were included in funerary material dedicated to Anna Maria, although there is no record of such material in any of the relevant archives or libraries.

79 Strauch produced portraits of many Nuremberg patricians and also completed paintings of important buildings and locations within the imperial city itself. On Strauch, see ADB 36 (1893): 531; Mahn, Hannshubert, Lorenz und Georg Strauch. Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte Nürnbergs im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (Reutlingen: Gryphius-verlag, 1927); Schwemmer, Wilhelm, “Lorenz Strauch,” Fränkische Lebensbilder, vol. 4 (1971): 186195; and Mende, Matthias, “Zwei Lorenz Strauch (1554–1630) zugeschriebene Zeichnungen zur Nürnberger Topographie Band,” Mitteilungen des Vereins für die Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 71 (1984): 178185.

80 See below for further discussion of this proposed date.

81 “Endlich, richtet sie, Ein schläglein, gar dahin,” GNM-HA, Rep. II/80, Nr. 36 Diarium. Familiare et Domesticum Generale, 13 Oktober, 1619. The diary begins from Oelhafen's birth in 1574 and goes to 1622. However, it is not organized like a typical diary, going day by day and year by year. It is organized around each day of each of the twelve months of the year. That is, it begins with January 1, and lists everything of significance that happened on this day in each of the years under consideration in this book (1574–1622), and then proceeds to January 2, and so on. There are many blank pages between the twelve sections (corresponding to the twelve months); Oelhafen was obviously leaving room for additional entries.

82 See the entries for 10, 11, 12, and 13 February in Oelhafen's Diarium. Oelhafen records that Anna Marie died in his arms in entry 32 (25 May, verse 6) of the Pious Meditations.

83 I am grateful to Jill Bepler for drawing my attention to this acrostic.

84 See entry for 14 February in Oelhafen's Diarium.

85 “O lebendiger Gott, unndt Tröster aller betrübten: Ich habe meinen liebsten schatz auf Erden verloren: dann du hast mir ein stuckh von meinem hertzen weggerißen: du hast sie mir geben, unndt 18 Jahr Lang gelaßen: auch nun wider, zue dir, auß dießem Elendt, alß dein liebes Kindt genommen, wil sie deinen Sohn Erkandt, unndt, mitten in der todten angst, alß ihren Brautigam, hertzlich, angerufen hatt. Tröste mich, Traurig unndt Elenden witber, unndt hilf mir mein Laid tragen, auch meine kleine kinderlein erziehen: unndt schickh, nach deinem Göttlichen willen, ein seeliges stündtlein; das ich, unndt die meinen, fur deinem angesicht, mit unndt neben ihr, in newer frewd unndt ewiger lieb, zusammen kommen, der du, auß Laid, Ewiger freudt, unndt wollgefallen machen kanst, hochgelobt in alle Ewigkeit. Amen.” Piae Meditationes, entry 1, 13 February.

86 Ibid., entry 2, 14 February.

87 Ibid., entry 51, 22 August, verse 2.

88 Oelhafen writes that the knowledge that his wife's death was divine punishment for his sin “frißet und naget sich mein hertz” (eats away and chews at my heart). Ibid., entry 8, 21 March. See below for how Oelhafen could offer other explantions for his loss.

89 Ibid., entry 2, 14 February.

90 One sees this view of God in the opening sentence of entry 37, 20 June: “Allmechtiger ewiger Gott, der du zugleich bist ein strenger Richter der unbußfertigen, unndt auch ein liebreicher Vater der barmhertzigkeit, gegen den, so ihre Sunde berewen.”

91 “du [i.e., God] bist zwar gerecht an allem, das du uber mich gebracht, dann du hast recht getan, dieweil ich gottloß geweßen, unndt habe nicht nach deinen gesetz gethan, auch nicht acht gehabt auf deine gebott unndt zeugnuß.” Ibid., entry 5, 28 February.

92 “Ach, du Ewiger Gott, Ich bin der Knecht, der dir 10 tausent pfundt schuldig: Ich muß laider bekennen, das Ich deinen Zorn unndt straf, 10/m. mahl verdienet.” Ibid., entry 61, 24 October. See also entries 6 (7 March), 10 (24 March), and 52 (24 August, verse 3) for similar confessions of sin.

93 Ibid., entry 9, 23 March, and entry 10, 24 March.

94 In a later entry (53, verse 6, 29 August) Oelhafen asserts that God wishes to be humanity's sole helper:

“dann Gott allein
will helfer sein.”

95 “Wan ich behertzig mein Elendt,

unndt mein Augen hin und her wendt,

Von Menschen unndt der weiten welt,

Mir alle hülf und Trost entfellt:

Aber du Trew Barmhertziger Gott,

hilf mir, dann Eilend hülf ist Not:

wo du nit schafst Rhat unndt heil,

werdt Ich gar bald den Todt zu thail:

wo du nit wegnimbst diese Last,

hat mein hertz weder rhue noch Rast.

Ach vatter, sihe mitt gnaden an,

mein seuftzen und weinen, das ich kan,

außstehen diese schwere not,

darein mich stürtzt meins Ehegemahl Todt.

So dein hülfreich hand nur reicht dar,

Ein fingerlein, hats kein gefahr,

Ich werdt gantz starckh, rhuig und gesundt,

haben fried unndt Rast zur selben stundt.

deins Sohns verdienst und groß wolthat,

damit Er unß Erlößet hat,

Such unndt beger Ich hertzigligch,

unndt faß im glabuen demutiglich.”

Ibid., entry 3, 17 February.

96 Later in the work Oelhafen prays that God will help him to avoid seeing Anna Maria's death simply as “ein Zaichen der ungenaden” but rather a sign of God's “väterlichen liebs naigung.” Ibid., entry 33, 26 May. See discussion below.

97 Oelhafen implores God to see him and his family “mit den augen deiner barmhertzigkeit.” Ibid., entry 2, 14 December, and entry 4, 21 February. In entry 61 (24 October) he prays to be “beklaidet mit deinem [Christ's] verdienst,” and in entry 66 (21 November) he asks God to clothe His bride worthily “mit der gerechtigkeit deines whürdigsten Sohns gehorsambs” at the Last Judgment.

98 “Barmhertziger Ewiger gütiger Gott, ich habe ja kein ander vertrawen, hofnung unndt zuflucht, kan mich auch keines andern rhumen, dann das du, fur mich geboren, gestorben, unndt, insonderheit von den Todten widerauferstanden, undt gehn himmel gefahren bist . . . wann du nun, verdienst von mir forderst, so bringe ich dir herfur, das verdienst deines allerheiligste laidens, das verdinest deines creutzes, unndt das verdienst deines todtes.” Ibid., entry 26, 6 May.

99 Both the canons of the Council of Trent and the Roman Catechism insist that suffering can function as a penance for sin, and Trent anathematizes those who disagree. Norman P. Tanner, S.J., Concilium Tridentium, Sessio XIV, Cap. IX, Canon XII, Canon XIII, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils (London: Sheed & Ward, 1990), II:709, lines 35–41; II:713, lines 13–26. See also Bradley, Robert I., S.J., and Kevane, Eugene, trans. and eds., The Roman Catechism (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1985), part 2, chapter 4, Penance, 75 “Sufferings as Satisfaction,” 294.

100 “Sintemahl, du ein herr, uber alles bist, was ist dann, im Rest, darmit ich dir satisfaction geben köndte? Ach, anderst nichts, als mein glaubiges hertz.” Piae Meditationes, entry 61, 24 October.

101 Ibid., entry 72, 21 December.

102 Ibid., entry 6, 7 March.

103 Ibid., entry 8, 21 March.

104 Ibid., entry 9, 23 March.

105 “Creutz neben frewdt, hatt unß Gott zu guetem Endt gegeben.” Ibid., entry 52, 25 July.

106 For a reference to other early modern Lutherans who did the same, see Brown, Christopher Boyd, Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005),118.

107 “Allein fur dir herr Ihesu christ,

Thue ich mein not itzt clagen,

Reich du von trost und hulfe bist,

Laß mich ja nicht verzagen:

In dich mein hofnung steht allein

Gib mir herr dein Genade,

das ich dir mög gehorsamb sein,

unndt mir diß creutz nicht schade.” Piae Meditationes, entry 15, 25 March, verse 1.

108 “Ich danckhe dir, nun abermals, hertzallerlibester himmelischer vatter, von gantzem hertzen, das du mich meinen lieben AMICO, Kinderlein, unndt alle Menschen, also lieb gehabt hast, das du deines Einigen Sohns, unßers herren unndt heilandts Ihesu christi . . . fur unß, unndt alle Menschen, in den Todt, gegeben hast, auf das, wir unndt alle guthertzige christen, so an ihm glauben, nit ewig verdambt wurden, sonder vergebung hetten, aller unserer sunden, und das ewige leben. Verlihe, hertzlieber vater, das wir solcher wollthat, nummermehr vergeßen, sondern unß deren, in lieb unndt laid, es gehe uns woll oder ubel, zur iederzeit, trösten unndt frewen, zugleich auch darfur, von nun an, biß in ewigkeit, danckhen. Amen.” Ibid., entry 31, 23 May.

109 See ibid., entries 35 (6 June), 37 (20 June), and 40 (27 June).

110 Ibid., entry 24, 1 May.

111 Seneca, “Consolatione ad Marciam,” Seneca: Moral Essays, with an English Translation by Basore, John W., 3 vols., vol. II (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951), 6:2; pp. 20 (Latin), 21(English).

112 See the Latin entry dated 6 January 1620.

113 Ibid., see the Latin entry in Piae Meditationes dated 6 January 1620.

114 Ibid., entry 32, 25 May.

115 “AMICO, lieber schatz, wo bist


hatt dich der lieber Gott zu sich


oder bistu mir sonsten gentzlich entnommen?

Am hochzeit Tag,

sag, oder clag,

unndt hilf mir geschwindet ab

meines hertzen kummer.” Ibid., entry 32, 25 May, verse 1.

116 Ibid., entry 32, 25 May, verses 8 and 9.

117 “diß liedt hab ich, auß Trew

unndt lieb gesungen:

am Vrbanz Tag, da AMICO

war verschlungen,

welchs bewainte Ich, mitt mir

hinderlaßen Jungen,

doch will ich leb

sie stetigs schweb,

mir, in meinem hertzen, unndt

auf meiner zungen.” Ibid., entry 32, 25 May.

118 Ibid., entry 33, 26 May. Elsewhere Oelhafen makes it clear that God alone is the One to whom he can direct his lament (klagen) and from whom he can expect consolation. See ibid., entry 51, 22 August, verse 1. Therefore, he almost certainly would have maintained that God was the ultimate source of the consolation he received from his friends.

119 “damit deiner vätterlichen herzens zunaigung, (So, under den Creutz, oftermals verborgen) mein kindtlichen vertrawen correspondiren, unndt mit deiner crafft, macht unndt sterckhe, gewapnet, alß ein christlicher Ritter, fest bestehn.” Ibid., entry 33, 26 May.

120 See Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 8.

121 See ibid., chapter 2.

122 On the importance of suffering as a tentatio probationis of faith in Luther, see Mennecke-Haustein, Ute, Luthers Trostbriefe (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1989), 8485. Mennecke-Haustein demonstrates that the proving of faith took logical precedence over the production of virtue in Luther's understanding of suffering. Medieval consolation literature could also treat suffering as a test of faith, but Protestants stressed this causa more strongly owing to the centrality of faith in their conception of authentic Christianity.

123 “Amico denckht gewiß auch mein,

weil Ich wolt gerne bei ihr sein.

Ach komm Christe: Amen.” Piae Meditationes, entry 60, 17 October.

124 Ibid., entry 45, 18 July. The sixth verse of this hymn—“im Thon: Es ist das heilig”—reads as follows:

“Du solst in Engsten, Zagen nichts,
Sondern nur halten stille:
unndt wißen, was iemals geschicht,
sei gottes weißer wille:
unndt sein beschloßner gehaimer Rhatt,
dadurch Er dich von böser that,
zur besserung woll bewegen.”

125 Ibid., entry 60, 17 December.

126 Ibid., entry 46, 21 July.

127 “An das glaub Ich, zu aller frist,

das in meim [sic] Creutz und laiden,

Mich erhalten wirdt Jesus christ

unndt sich von mir nicht scheiden.” Ibid., entry 52, 24 August.

128 See ibid., entry 72, 21 December: “verzeihe mir meine Sunde, unndt verwirfe mich ja nicht, umb meines geringen glaubens willen . . . unndt hilf, das ich alle meine zuversicht setze, auf dich allein, meinen herrn unndt meins Gott: mit festem glauben, an dich halte, ob Ich dich woll nicht sihe: von hertzen dich liebe, ob Ich dich woll nicht fühle.”

129 See note 95 above.

130 Piae Meditationes, entry 62, 28 October.

131 See Posset, Franz, “The Sweetness of God,” The American Benedictine Review 44 (1993): 143–78, and idem, Christi Dulcedo: The ‘Sweetness of Christ’ in Western Christian Spirituality,” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 30 (1995): 245265.

132 See Moller, , Mysterium Magnum (Görlitz: Rhambaw, 1595), HAB A:811.4 Theol., fol. 64r; idem, Thesaurus Precationum (Gorlitz: Rhambaw, 1608), HAB A:697.87 Theol., fol. 416; and Nicolai, , Freudenspiegel des ewigen Lebens (1599), ed. Mumm, Reinhard (Soest: Westfälische Verlagsbuchhandlung Mocker & Jahn, 1963), 80. See also the discussion of these works in Rittgers, Reformation of Suffering, chapter 9.

133 WA 7:54.31–55.36, and 68.33–36; LW 31:351, 368.

134 See his Von der Vereinigung der Gläubigen mit Christo Jesu ihrem Häupte (1620), which was included in posthumous editions of Wahres Christentum (Book 5, Part 2). For an English translation, see Johann Arndt: True Christianity, trans. Erb, Peter (New York: Paulist, 1979), 245271. This work appeared after Oelhafen completed his Piae Meditationes, but Arndt's emphasis on union with Christ could also be found in his Vier Bücher vom wahren Christentum, which appeared in 1610.

135 Piae Meditationes, entry 75, 31 December, verse 13.

136 “Ach, das Ich waßers genug hette, in meinen haubt, unndt meine augen Threnenquellen weren, das ich, Tag unndt Nacht beweinen möchte, die Einsambkeit meines lebens, dann der Todt ist herein gedrungen, unndt hatt mein allerliebste gewurget, dadurch mein haußwesen zerstöret, unndt meine Ehr zuschanden worden.” Ibid., entry 5, 28 February.

137 For discussions and debates on the proper use and interpretation of ego-documents, especially regarding the kind of access—if any—they provide to the emotional lives of human beings in the past, see the following works, in addition to those cited in note 19 above: Medick, Hans and Sabean, David, eds., Emotionen und materielle Interessen. Sozialanthropologische und historische Beiträge zur Familienforschung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1984), especially p. 17 (for an English version, see Emotions and Interests: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986].); von Greyerz, Kaspar, Veit, Hans Medick und Patrice, eds., Von der dargestellten Person zum erinnerten Ich: Europäische Selbstzeugnisse als historische Quellen (1500–1800) (Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 2001), 157; Linton, Poetry and Parental Bereavement, 225, 226; Fulbrook, Mary and Rublack, Ulinka, “In Relation: The ‘Social Self’ and Ego-Documents,” German History 28:3 (September 2010): 263272; and Amelang, James S., “Saving the Self from Autobiography,” in Selbstzeugnisse in der Frühen Neuzeit. Individualisierungsweisen in interdisziplinärer Perspektive, ed. von Greyerz, Kaspar (München: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2007), 129140. See also Stefan Elit, Stephan Kraft, and Andreas Rutz, eds., “Das 'Ich' in der Frühen Neuzeit. Autobiographien - Selbstzeugnisse - Ego-Dokumente in geschichts- und literaturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive,”

138 Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister, Tabvla CCCLVII.

139 Pfinzing had been married first to Jacob Imhoff (1572–1609) (wedding: 11 May, 1605), and then to Sebastian Imhoff (1589–1613) (wedding: November 1612). She had no children from either marriage. Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister, CCCCXII.

140 His name was Hans Paulus (1621–1645). Biedermann, Geschlechtsregister, Tabvla CCCLVIII.

141 See the entry for Hofpfalzgraf in Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch (Weimar, H. Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1914-), vol. V, Sp. 1308. The Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch is available online at I am grateful to Thomas A. Brady, Jr., for calling this source to my attention.

142 ADB 24:297.

143 On the duties of the Prokanzler, see Leder, Universität Altdorf, 13: “Bei ihm mußten sich Magistranden und Doktoranden aller Fakultäten vorstellen, um die Erlaubnis zu den Prüfungen und Inauguraldisputationen zu erhalten; er fertige wichtige Gutachten für die Unversität aus.” See also Kunstmann, Die Nürnberger Universität Altdorf und Böhmen, 143.

144 Tobias Oelfhafen (1601–1666), Johannes Christoph's famous nephew, delivered a eulogy for his uncle. On Tobias, see ADB 24:298–300; Friedrich, Bibliographie, 1013, 1017–1020; and Imhoff, Berühmte Nürnberger, 180.

145 See Sigmund Christoph von Oelhafen, Zwei Reden zum Gedächtnis an die Prokanzler der Universität Altdorf, 18; cf. Apinus, Vitae et Effigies, 17.

1 This article began as a conference paper that I delivered at the March 2008 meeting of the Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär: The Conference Group for Interdisciplinary Early Modern German Studies. It also draws on a portion of chapter ten in my forthcoming book, The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). I am grateful to Jill Bepler for reading and commenting on a draft of this article.

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