Subproject 2

Jerusalem in the Lutheran kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden (ca 1500-1700).

In the second subproject, we aim to investigate how the Jerusalem code was transformed during the Protestant Reformation and the process of confessionalization. The early modern Protestant legitimations of God’s chosen people were based on a paradigm of justification by faith, and no longer on physical translations of holiness or authority. Nevertheless, visual sources, poetry, hymns, historiography and other writings of Danish and Swedish theologians closely connected to the political regimes, testify to the pervasiveness of the multivalent employment of Jerusalem in order to legitimate secular and religious authorities. Moreover, these sources reveal a strategy of social discipline that contributed to the construction of a Lutheran identity.

The destruction of Jerusalem. We will engage in an international comparative discussion on the transmission, interpretation, and political application of the parabiblical tradition of Jerusalem’s destruction (70 AD) as told by Josephus (Groves, forthcoming). The medieval transmission of Josephus had legitimated the rejection of the Jews in Christian salvation history (Utterback & Price 2013), and it continued to do so in early modernity. A version of Josephus was translated into Danish in 1539 (Tidemand 1539) and frequently reprinted during the following centuries. The city of Jerusalem, as well as the Jews and the Romans, the actors in the classical Josephus transmission, here gained new interpretations that addressed the political and social context in the kingdoms of Denmark-Norway and Sweden.

The true Israelites. We aim to employ religio-political rituals, funeral sermons, and devotional and historiographical literature in order to explore how the Jerusalem code and the model of Israel shaped the confessionalization process. Although legitimized by ‘true faith’, the people of the protestant kingdoms, conceived of as the chosen people of God, were addressed with a religious and political language similar to that with which the Jews of the Old Testament had been addressed (Ekedahl 1999). The kings ruled the elect and modelled their rule on Old Testament ideal kings, and they prescribed collective penitential rituals that were based on patterns from the Old Testament. A central question, therefore, is how to understand this identification with the Jewish people: was it a rhetorical parallel to the past, or should it be understood as a succession based on a translation of identity (Goetz 1958; Assmann 1999; Oftestad 2010)?

Antichrist and anti-Jerusalem. We will also investigate how Jerusalem and Rome were set up as opposites, and how the idea of Jerusalem was transmitted in the Scandinavian and Baltic region – from late medieval times, through the period of Humanism, and to the Reformation and the age of confessionalization. The notions of Jerusalem, the chosen people, and proto-national thinking had already been combined in historiography before the Reformation. The German humanist and historiographer Albert Krantz (1448-1517) argued that the Nordic kingdoms were superior to others by referring to the moral weakness of the Roman Empire and the supremacy of the Goths as the true Israelites. Through the Reformation, the negative aspects of Jerusalem that were known from the biblical prophets’ moral criticism were perpetuated in the humanistic view of history and phrased as a religious criticism of the pope. Thus the prophetic speech of the Bible was no longer applied to the decadence of Jerusalem, but to the decadence of Rome. The true followers of God were no longer understood as a particular nation, as in Albert Krantz works, but as those who adhered to the Lutheran ‘vera doctrina’ (e.g., David Chytraeus´ chronicles (Bollbuck 2006)). Rome became the anti-Jerusalem, a negative code or allegory.

The quest for Jerusalem. In a diachronic perspective, we intend to investigate how religious actors treated Jerusalem as their explicit goal: the Christian knight, the cross bearer, the crusader, and the pilgrim all appear in early modern Scandinavian devotional literature. As medieval religious roles, they were all transformed according to the new paradigm of faith. And in line with, but also transforming medieval tradition, the geographical itineraries are supplemented by literature on the interior pilgrimage. One example of this is the Danish ‘guide to the Holy Sepulchre and the new Jerusalem’, printed in Copenhagen in 1616. In this text, the Holy Sepulchre is interpreted as one’s own grave, and Jerusalem as the afterlife (Dalby 1616).