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The Lutheran Experience in the Ottoman Middle East: Stephan Gerlach (1546–1612) and the History of Lutheran Accommodation

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Calis, Richard 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pThis article examines what it meant to be Lutheran in the early modern Middle East. Its point of departure is a letter in which Stephan Gerlach, a sixteenth-century Lutheran chaplain to the imperial ambassador in Istanbul, asked his superiors about the type of behaviour that befitted him as a Lutheran. Was he allowed to wear a Turkish turban to see mosques and learn about Islam? Was it permissible for him in exceptional circumstances to accept communion under both kinds from a Roman Catholic monk? Was he allowed to postpone the Sunday sermon to attend Greek Orthodox ceremonies? Reconstructing how sixteenth-century Lutherans who had business in the early modern Middle East tried to resolve such issues not only affords new insights into the Lutheran experience in the Ottoman Empire; it also raises a set of fundamental questions about late sixteenth-century Lutheranism itself. Did Lutherans in this period develop forms of religious accommodation similar to those of early modern Catholics? Did travel in the Eastern Mediterranean demand a more flexible and more fluid form of Lutheranism? Could one even adhere to Lutheranism’s core principles so far away from the place where the movement had first taken root? Through an examination of various Lutheran treatises and travelogues, I show that sixteenth-century Lutheranism did not develop an official policy of accommodation. Instead, Lutheran responses to questions about accommodation, (dis)simulation and conformity were often makeshift and idiosyncratic, because Lutheranism formulated little to no official guidance on the movement as a lived religion.</jats:p>



4303 Historical Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

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The English Historical Review

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Oxford University Press (OUP)

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2024-05-08 12:51:08
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