Summary and Keywords
Luther’s reform spread as rapidly and as widely as it did because of his effective marshalling of the media of oral proclamation and the relatively new medium of printed materials produced with movable type. His use of printed materials to spread his Reformation embraced a number of genres. The medieval genre, including the ars moriendi and meditations on Christ’s passion, provided avenues to deconstruct and reconstruct the theology and practice of the medieval church. The disputation form of the Ninety-Five Theses generated both the expanded form of argument in the “sermo” and various expressions of polemical literature. Luther transformed catechesis with his Large and Small Catechisms, helped popularize the hymn as a medium of instruction and devotion, provided “continuing education” for parish pastors through published sermons, and formulated his message for public and pastoral consumption in other genres as well. Each of these genres served, in different ways, as means for the Wittenberg reformer to shape the message and practice of the church and its people. In each genre, he continued to experiment with effective ways of calling hearers and readers to repentance and of bringing them the comfort of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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