Lutheran astronomers after the Fall (1540-1590): a reappraisal of the Renaissance dynamic of science and religion

Begin - Einde 
2008 - 2012 (gestopt)
Vakgroep Geschiedenis



The overarching conclusion of this study is that Lutheran astronomers of the Renaissance—represented here by Erasmus Reinhold, Georg Joachim Rheticus, Caspar Peucer, and Tycho Brahe—saw their work as taking place within the continuous relationship of man and God which was central to Lutheran theology. This theological-anthropological framing of astronomy may be perceived in two distinct ways. First, it was seen to take the shape of a theological-anthropological activity, in the sense that it reinforced and deepened man's relation with God through the study of His visible creation. As such, astronomy  was a form of learned devotion. Secondly, the notion of living in a continuous yet asymmetrical relation with God and the concomitant wish not to disrupt this relation while studying nature resulted in a humility about the extent of man’s intellectual abilities and in reflection upon the best possible way to preserve this relation. Each component of this theological-anthropological understanding of astronomy highlights an aspect of Luther’s dualist appraisal of the role of reason in relation to faith. On a larger scale, this theological-anthropological angle enhances our understanding of the notion of intellectual piety in sixteenth-century Lutheran learned culture.