Date of this Version
Preaching was the central function of the Protestant minister. From the very beginning of the Reformation, proclaiming "the pure word of God" from the pulpit was the most important way of making evangelical doctrine known, and both Lutherans and Reformed redefined the functions of pastoral care to place new emphasis on preaching. Both pastors already in the parish and young men training for the ministry needed to know how to preach. To provide the necessary guidance for these pastors, evangelical theologians produced a number of homiletics texts that prescribed how to write a Protestant sermon. Most of these preaching manuals were written by Lutherans. With only a few exceptions, Reformed theologians did not begin to produce manuals on preaching until the end of the sixteenth century. An examination of these manuals is especially helpful for understanding the confessional biases associated with the form of the sermon over the course of the sixteenth century. In the years after the Reformation, Lutheran and Reformed theologians adopted different models for their own preaching, the classical oration for the Lutherans and the patristic homily for the Reformed. The differences between these models were small enough that they were submerged over the third quarter of the sixteenth century, but they resurfaced in the 1580s and only increased over the next few decades. These differences in turn help explain why there are so few published Reformed sermons, in contrast to the abundance of Lutheran sermons from the latter sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.