NOTE: This post will focus on literature from approximately the last 10 years (i.e., since the publication of Bernhard Rothmann and the Reformation in Münster).
More literature is on the way. Stay tuned.
ABSTRACT: This essay uses the method of historiographical criticism to reexamine the frameworks used to research the relationship between apocalypse and violence. Its focus is the presentation of Anabaptist rule at Münster in the mid-1530s. New religions scholars and historians alike often cite this case as evidence of how millenarian prophecy can lead believers to violent actions. The essay demonstrates that this view is based largely on anti-Anabaptist and anti-sectarian propaganda that has its origins in the medieval and early modern eras. Partly because of the popularity of Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium (1957), which translated older polemical interpretations of religious outsiders into a modern scholarly form, hostile assumptions about Anabaptist violence have found their way into academic debates today. The essay shows that the distorting effects of these kinds of assumptions are not limited at all to the case of Anabaptist Münster, but in fact shape unhelpfully the way scholars conceptualize more generally the relationship between dissenting “sects” and established “churches.” “Thinking outside the cages” of polemically derived conceptualizations can form the basis for cross-disciplinary research on believers under siege.
Henry Suderman, “Sometimes It’s the Place: The Anabaptist Kingdom Revisited” in Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme 40:4 (2017), 117-140.
Christian Peters, Vom Humanismus zum Täuferreich. Der Weg des Bernhard Rothmann [From Humanism to Anabaptist Kingdom: Bernhard Rothmann’s Path] (Refo500 Academic Studies 38) (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017).
Michael Driedger, “Against ‘the Radical Reformation’: On the Continuity between Early Modern Heresy-Making and Modern Historiography” in Radicalism and Dissent in the World of Protestant Reform, eds. Bridget Heal and Anorthe Kremers (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017).
Michael Driedger, “Münster, Monster, Modernity: Tracing and Challenging the Meme of Anabaptist Madness” in Mennonites and the Challenge of Modernity over Five Centuries, eds. Mark Jantzen, Mary Sprunger, and John Thiesen (North Newton, KS: Bethel College Press, 2016).
False Prophets and Preachers: Henry Gresbeck’s Account of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster, trans. Christopher S. Mackay (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2016).
Günter Vogler, Die Täuferherrschaft in Münster und die Reichsstände: Die politische, religiöse und militärische Dimension eines Konflikts in den Jahren 1534 bis 1536 [Anabaptist Rule in Münster and the Imperial Estates: The Political, Religious, and Military Dimensions of a Conflict] (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2014).
Willem de Bakker, Michael Driedger, and James Stayer, Bernhard Rothmann and the Reformation in Münster, 1530-35 (Waterloo, ON: Pandora Press, 2009).