This course will examine the religious ideas and historical movements that influenced and shaped the cultural and spiritual tradition of the Lutheran and Reformed Germans who settled in eastern Pennsylvania. It is in two sections: “Church” Spirituality which was the organized, formal system of beliefs that was taught in the church and in the catechism and other religious writings; and “Folk” Spirituality which was the interpretation and application (and often corruption) of the German mystical tradition and religious beliefs in the daily lives of the people, and which was passed down primarily through an oral tradition.


1. The German Mystical Tradition 
The Celtic Influence
The Rhineland Mystics: Hildegard of Bingen, Mechteld of Magdeburg, Meister Eckart, Jacob Boehme, Johannes Tauler

2. The Protestant Reformation in Germany 
Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, The Marburg Debate,
The Marian Exiles and the Reformed Influence in Britain

3. The German Migrations 
The Effects of the Thirty Years War on German Emigration, Settlements in the New World

4. Development and Characteristics of Pennsylvania German Spirituality 
Who Are the Pennsylvania Dutch?
Pietism, Folk Spirituality, Revelational Transcendentalism, Spiritual Influences in Folk Art   

5. The Union Church Tradition
Lutheran and Reformed: Spiritual Co-existence and Cooperation
Historical Perspective of the Lutheran and German Reformed Churches

6. Worship and Liturgy 
Teaching the Faith, The Heidelberg Catechism and Palatinate Liturgy, Stark’s Daily Handbook, The Liturgical Movement and Mercersburg Theology

7. Folk Spirituality   
European Origins of the Pennsylvania German Folk Tradition, Symbolism in the Decorative Arts, Folk Beliefs and Superstitions

8. Faith Healing 
Braucherei (pow-wowing), Hohman’s Long Hidden Friend, Folk Medicine and Natural Remedies

9. Reformed Theology Today and the Future of Pennsylvania German Spirituality