Course: The Challenge of the Moravians

There is a special opportunity for Heidelberg University students this summer semester. In cooperation with the theology faculty and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, the Jonathan Edwards Center Germany has arranged a special course on the Moravians.

“The Challenge of the Moravians in the Old and New World” will be co-taught by Dr. Craig Atwood, of Moravian Theological Seminary, and Jennifer Adams-Massmann, a doctoral student at Heidelberg. The course will be held at the HCA on May 6-7, 20-21, and 27-28.

Adams-Massmann sends along this description of the course:

“The Unitas Fratrum (English: Moravian Church or German: die Herrnhuter) was one of the most dynamic and controversial religious groups in Europe and British North America. Founded in the mid-15th century in what is now the Czech Republic, the Moravians were the first “peace church” and tried to live according to the teachings of the New Testament. Intense persecution in the 17th century almost destroyed the church, before it was reborn in the early 1700s under the leadership of German Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and by 1760 the movement had established relicommunities worldwide through missions, from Greenland to India, to the American colonies. In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Moravians created a busy multilingual and multiethnic commune which rejected the patriarchal family structure and where women served in leadership alongside men. This alternative way of life generated controversy as did Zinzendorf’s provocative theology and piety, which included erotic spirituality, adoration of God “the Mother,” and mystical devotion to the wounds of Christ. This course will explore the fascinating history of the Unitas Fratrum from its radical founding through the end of the 18th century, paying particular attention to Zinzendorf and the Bethlehem community in America. We will also consider their controversial missions in the American colonies to Native peoples, slaves and European immigrants and how they understood and practiced gender difference. Using a mix of primary and secondary sources, we will thus consider the appeal and threat presented by the radical, idealistic Moravians in early modern Europe and especially in America.”

Anyone interested in taking the course may email Adams-Massmann at: jennifer.adams-massmann@wts.uni-heidelberg.de

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