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Altarisganga á Íslandi 1570 til 172: fyrirkomulag og áhrif

Altarisganga á Íslandi 1570 til 172: fyrirkomulag og áhrif

Title: Altarisganga á Íslandi 1570 til 172: fyrirkomulag og áhrif
Author: Ólafsson, Skúli Sigurður
Advisor: Einar Sigurbjörnsson
Date: 2014-03-26
Language: Icelandic
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Hugvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Humanities (UI)
Department: Guðfræði- og trúarbragðadeild (HÍ)
Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (UI)
ISBN: 978-9935-9214-1-3
Subject: Altarisganga; Guðfræði; Kirkjusaga; Réttarheimildir; Helgisiðir; Doktorsritgerðir
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/1215

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Lord’s Supper in Iceland 1570-1720. Procedure and Impact The Lord’s Supper in Iceland in the period from 1570 to 1720 is the core focus of this thesis. Limited research has been undertaken on this topic, despite its significance for a greater understanding of early modern Icelandic culture and the development of ecclesiastical authority and the lay community. It is therefore important to analyze the structure of this religious practice within the Icelandic church during this period. The theme comprises two parts. One part is devoted to explaining the ritual of the Eucharist in detail, providing a thorough discussion on the practice. The other explores the influence of the Eucharist on Church bureaucracy and public culture. This dissertation is based on the Eucharist’s threefold purpose in the period from 1570 to 1720. Firstly as a religious practice, then its role concerning church discipline and finally it was a means of social control. The paper comprises five chapters. The first chapter provides an overview of available research and argues why this particular timeframe was chosen. These 150 years were relatively stable compared to the reformation era where the new theology was introduced and implemented. From the middle of the 18th century, new ideologies were introduced. Pietism and later the enlightenment had different views on the Church’s role which affected the way the Eucharist was interpreted and practiced. This development along with difficult economic situation led to a turning point where the dioceses in Hólar and Skálholt were abolished and one national bishop’s office was placed in Reykjavík. By concentrating on the previously mentioned period the practice and influence of the Altar Sacrament can be revealed during a time when the power of the church was at its peak. The second chapter discusses the historical and theological prepositions of the use of the Altar sacrament in the period. The Eucharist’s threefold role is revealed in the way in which the Church practiced the Eucharist through the centuries, beginning in the times of the first Christian congregations. From the beginning it was an important factor in defining who the members of the early congregations were. As for the social role, texts from the Gospels and the Pauline letters give instructions on how to handle those who are stubborn and not considered suitable to be members of the Church community. Such people would be excommunicated by both excluding them from the agape meal and from the community as such. The meal made the formal distinction between members of the Church and others. Those who wanted to be baptized into the congregation were not allowed to stay during service after the sermon, when the baptized members of the congregation united in the Eucharist. Prior to attending the service they had to undergo a ceremonial test where they would confess their sins and receive absolution. The legal status of the Eucharist evolved during the medieval times. The practice of excommunication was complicated. The distinction between Forum internum and Forum externum was important as it served a central role in evolving the Church as an institution. The difference between minor and major ban was characterized in these two fields of life. The local pastor sentenced the sinner to a minor ban for the deadly sins that were revealed during the confession. By promising to undergo certain penal practice he would receive absolution and be allowed to attend the Eucharist. For those who had committed serious crimes which fell under the category of forum externum, the absolution was given by the bishop. Prior to excommunicating the bishop had to summon those who would not obey the sacral authorities to a court that would discuss the accused person and judge according to canon law. Regarding the most serious cases an Ipso facto ban would follow. Those who were excommunicated in that manner could only receive their absolution from the pope. An important part of Luther’s ideology derives from his criticism of Roman Catholic theology of the Eucharist. Many of his other ideas can be reflected in the Lutheran Eucharist practices. Luther’s emphasis on the right for lay people to attend the Eucharist during every mass and receive both bread and wine can be seen as part of the idea of common priesthood. The boundaries between the lay and the ordained priests were less apparent than in the Roman Catholic Church. The subjective role of the Eucharist was also discussed. The individual’s conscience was a subject of the Lutheran theology regarding penance and absolution. During confession the sinner was supposed to read a standard text where he would admit that he had sinned and then accept Jesus Christ as his savior. By confessing the sins he would declare himself doomed to temporal and eternal death. There the judgment of the law was working on the person’s conscience, breaking down every barrier that pride and stubbornness had raised. This paved the way for the gospel where the sinful person renounced that Jesus had died for his sins giving him eternal life. The results were that people would attend the Eucharist with a free conscience and do good works with joy and love to the neighbor. Such was the significance of the Altar sacrament that Luther claimed that the sole purpose of the Mass was to allow people to attend the Eucharist. The religious role of the Eucharist was therefore most important for Luther but the social and legal roles were more evident by his followers. By stretching on the importance of the common attendance of the Holy meal, excommunication would serve a bigger role in the Lutheran context. The Lutheran phrase, sola scriptura, meant that the bases for the Eucharist were to be found in the Biblical texts. The locus classicus in that context were Christ’s description in Mt. 18, on how to treat a sinful brother were cited in legislation concerning actions on those who would not obey the Church and were either to be given absolution or were excommunicated. The apostle’s words in 1.Cor 11, on the fate of those unworthy who would eat the flesh and blood of Christ, were also very influential. The idea of manducatio impiorum, had great impact on the way both lay people and the clergy feared and respected the Holy Communion. Christ’s words in Mt. 5 that people should be in peace with each other before leaving their sacrifice in front of the Altar were also influential in this respect. Settling arguments was vital for pastors as those who quarreled would be excommunicated otherwise. After the reformation the Church authorities continued to use the medieval concepts regarding the Eucharist. The derivation between forum internum and forum externum was still used and reflected in the practices of minor and major ban. Still as the pope no longer played a part in the clerical hierarchy, the ban ipso facto was not absolved. Disobedience (contumacia) was still the main reason people to fall under the Church’s jurisdiction. Certain crimes were listed in the Church ordinance and other legal texts of the time. Confessions were practiced differently as the standard text was read aloud instead of counting specific sins. The pastor’s observation had more weight and those who went from one parish to another had to present a document where their former parish minister declared that they were allowed to attend the altar sacrament. Severe punishment was applied to those pastors who would neglect their duties in investigating who were to be given the Holy Communion and who had to undergo public absolution first. The frequency of the Eucharist was not as high as Luther himself had proclaimed. From the beginning of the 17th century the number of times where people could attend the Altar service was no more than three to four times each year. The threefold purpose of the Eucharist, religious, disciplinary and social can be revealed in the way the sacrament was interpreted and practiced during the reformation era. The religious means were at the center of Luther’s ideas, as church authorities struggled to increase their power and influence more emphases was placed on the social and legal means of the practice. The third chapter discusses the Church’s officials and the Altar sacrament. Here the focus is on church discipline and the legal purpose of the Eucharist. The question asked is, how the rules of absolution and excommunication shaped the structure of the Church and its bureaucracy. The fear of God’s wrath was discussed and examples were given on how it influenced the minds of people of different social classes. The authorities were frightened of the divine punishment as can be seen in the bishops’ letters and such were the effects of the anxieties derived thereof, that it shaped the bureaucracy where it is clear that all were under the same authority. To analyze the structure of the Church, Max Weber’s ideas on legitimate use of force were used on both the prerequisites and methods used by Church authorities. According to Weber the monopoly on using force can be justified by means of tradition, charisma or common interests. “Common interests” is the method used in democratic societies but Weber claims that such examples of legitimate force can be found throughout history in many societies. The theory is that because of everyone’s great common interest regarding the correct use of the sacrament, the bishops tried to make dialogue with their subjects instead of using brutal force. With that in mind, relations between officials and the community can be seen from a different angle. The inquisition was made by the dean in the local court and the verdict was made in the annual synod under the bishop’s authority. The Eucharist’s importance within different situations reveals the practice used. An example was given on how the clergy tried to persuade the people to settle their arguments solely on the grounds of being able to attend the Eucharist. The example of Jón Sigurðsson clearly demonstrates the bishop’s efforts of attempting peace, using the altar sacrament as the stepping stone towards the ultimate reward, eternal life. The legislation following the Reformation defined the church’s role and limited the bishop’s authority. The ability to excommunicate people became their most important means for the church discipline which again was characterized by the purpose of it. It would be tempting to find relation between the use of excommunication and the power each of the church leaders had. The practice of church discipline reveals the role of the congregation where the lay people in the parish played an important role. During public absolution the presence of the church members was crucial and the sinner’s apology was directed at the other members of the parish. After the pastor had laid his hands over the sinner’s head the absolution would be completed when the sinner joined his fellow parishioners in the Eucharist. The pastor was in this context the official for the congregation. This was in accordance with Luther’s theology that the church’s keys were to serve the parish and the ecclesiology is based on that ideology. The fourth chapter concentrates on the religious means for the Eucharist. The main purpose of the sacrament was to mediate God’s grace and forgiveness to men which grants them eternal life in place of the condemnation that sin had casted upon them. This was the original understanding during the Reformation times however, many leading theologian’s debate about its interpretation. According to Lutheran theology the salvation of the Eucharist lay in the sacrifice Christ gave as he offered his body on the Cross. By this he paid the debt mankind owed to God. A certain legal concept lies behind this interpretation. The principle “eye for an eye” or lex talionis refers to the idea that a person who has been found guilty of a crime would pay back in line with the damage he has done. This was in fact a way to measure financial fines for damage that had been done by criminal activity. The original sin claimed in this context that man should pay for his sins as impossible as that was. Without such payment there will be neither settlement nor peace between man and God. Christ paid with his body which he in a symbolic way, cut into to small pieces to pay man’s debt. Many religious beliefs are based on sacrifices to sustain normality and peace. In the Roman Catholic Church the sacrifice was repeated during every mass by lifting up the chalice (elevatio). Luther on the other hand rejected this understanding of the practice and claimed that the sacrifice had been made once and for all. Those who attended the Eucharist enjoyed the payment Christ had made. This understanding explains the great peril people connected to the Altar sacrament. It was dangerous to neglect the sacrament for a long time or to participate in it in an improper manner. People excommunicated themselves if they were not at peace with their neighbor. The religious aspect of the sacrament was also connected to the great formality people related to the practice. This applied both to the clergy and lay people. Parish members would complain to the bishop if a pastor had made a mistake during the Holy Communion. Their conscience did not allow them to confess if the pastor was deaf. These claims were also made on moral and sociological grounds and took regard to the community of individual relations within. Finally the idea of God’s wrath was related to the religious interpretation of the Eucharist where malpractice and neglect caused divine judgment. The sacrament was also a context in which pastoral care and comfort was provided. Luther’s theology had an existential side which is best presented in the relationship between law and gospel. Focusing solely on the harsher, darker aspects of this period’s culture, evidenced by sermons, psalms and legislation does not provide a comprehensive view of that culture. People were reminded on their grave sins and the consequences it could have. According to Luther such a message should first and foremost prepare God-fearing people to open their heart to the gospel which presented forgiveness and grace. With regard to the ceremonies as such, an ongoing challenge was to attain enough wine for the Eucharist. This meant that they were far less frequent than originally proposed by Luther and in the first clerical handbooks. The sacrament defined the individual’s position in the community. The public sins destroyed the congregation’s unity and made the Christian congregation unclean. This was related to the community’s strong self image as God’s chosen people, not dissimilar to the Israelites. Immoral actions of certain individuals would taint this image and created the threat of divine doom. Finally the Altar service provided to those who were sick and dying reflects the crucial role pastoral care had at that time. Those who had not committed public sins were granted private absolution during their meeting with the pastor. During penance people didn’t have to list up all their evil deeds and individual acts. The read aloud a standard text where the reader would be confronted by the harsh reality of the penalty he was facing for his sins only to be comforted by God’s grace. The law was introduced as sinners acknowledged their sins as well as the gospel, as they received absolution. The pastor was obliged to observe his parish members. As visitors from other parishes came to him and asked for absolution they had to carry with them a note confirming they were allowed to receive the sacrament. The practice of public absolution and the ban served the purpose both to cleanse the congregation from sin and to give the sinner an opportunity to do penance and return to a better way of living. As examples from the bishops courts demonstrate emphases was made to encourage people and rebuke in a mild manner. Issues regarding the sacrament could be complicated. Sentences required both public absolution and punishment by the state. The sacred authorities and the temporal that were to interact could land in a confusing stalemate where the king’s officials delayed investigation in criminal cases. As for that in those situations, the people could not receive the altar sacrament nor undergo public absolution. It wasn’t until the law 1635 that the possibility for such an act was opened. Sometimes people who were believed to be dying received absolution from a pastor and then regained their health. If they had committed public sins they had to undergo public absolution despite the fact that they had been granted private absolution earlier. That practice was contrary to the principle that absolution was to be final. The social purpose of the sacrament is discussed in the fifth chapter. The Eucharist’s influence on the public is the main subject of the chapter. It was claimed that people respected and feared the altar sacrament. This idea was supported by many examples from the court showing deep concern for the practice and that certain mistakes, had serious consequences. The parish members reacted if pastors didn’t follow the correct practice as they were giving the sacrament. The public’s limited respect for church authorities made matters more complicated. They showed limited respect for the church authorities, neglecting the bishop as he visited parishes. Giving a testimony under oath was also not reliable as men frequently escaped their obligations by disrespecting the oath. The humble relation to the Eucharist had religious and existential reasons. It was the deity itself presented to the Christian individual. Still some examples can be found when people interpreted the sacrament differently than the authorities did. However, it can be argued that those cases from the court documents whereby people showed disrespect to the sacrament present exceptions from the rule. Those persons stood in the outskirt of society and their attitudes cannot be used as an example of the general ideas. The Lutheran church strongly emphasized the importance of influencing people’s minds. In this context the term popular culture which expresses how the public agreed with the values and ideas of the elite but expressed some issues in its own way. Examples were given on how the public could initiate on pastors were mistakes were suspected during Holy Communion. Such mistakes were considered scandalous, such as when the chaplain Jón Torfason was giving a dying woman the sacrament and made mistakes during the ceremony. The people in the parish seemed to be more upset than the bishop and the dean who were to investigate the cases. Their efforts were more focused on keeping calm and order within the parish. One aspect on the Eucharist’s impact upon the public was the way the clergy settled disagreements. This could be done without mentioning the issue of the dispute but rather focusing on the fact that they were not being able to attend the Holy Communion. The issues that provoked harsh legal debates in this period have no relevance today. Despite this, the religious culture related to the Eucharist shows interesting features that can be seen as a prologue to modern societies. One example of this is the relevance of a powerful central state, responsible for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the populace. The monarch had monopoly on the use of force and his subjects were obligated to turn to the king’s officials in order to solve their unsettled quarrels. Public absolution was relevant to this order, where it defined the individual’s status in the parish. It could both concern a matter of honor and humiliation. However the relationship of the Church’s authoritywith the public was characterized by the will to negotiate rather than the use of direct threat or enforcement. The bureaucracy that evolved from this situation was “modern” in the sense that it was placed under the discipline of the highest authority to which everyone was obliged to serve.
Inntak ritgerðarinnar er könnun á hlutverki og þýðingu altarissakramentisins á tímabilinu frá 1570-1720. Færð eru rök fyrir því að stöðugleiki hafi einkennt það skeið. Þá var regluverk kirkjunnar komið í fastar skorður eftir siðaskipti og þau umbrot sem urðu á 18. öld ekki enn farin að hafa merkjanleg áhrif. Sú tilgáta liggur til grundvallar að á þessum árum hafi altarisganga auk meðfylgjandi leynilegrar og opinberrar aflausnar, haft þrenns konar tilgang. Hún var helsta verkfæri yfirvalda til að halda uppi aga í samfélaginu, en um leið hluti af eftirliti alþýðu manna með prestum, próföstum og biskupum. Þá var sálarheill leikra sem lærðra háð því að vel tækist til við úthlutun sakramentisins og að engir stæðu utan þess. Loks skilgreindi altarisgangan félagslega stöðu fólks. Hver þessara þriggja þátta er til umfjöllunar í hverjum kafla verksins. Fyrst er þó fjallað um guðfræðilegar og sögulegar rætur altarisgöngunnar á tímabilinu. Gerð er grein fyrir því hvernig embætti kirkjunnar störfuðu með hliðsjón af því hvernig kirkjuaganum var beitt. Rætt er um athafnirnar og þá í ljósi hins trúarlega hlutverks. Loks er kafli helgaður félagslegum áhrifum altarisgöngunnar og því hvernig hún mótaði einstaklinga og samfélag. Íslenskar aðstæður eru í miðju rannsóknarinnar en gripið er til samanburðar við Norðurlönd og önnur lönd í Evrópu eftir því sem þurfa þykir. Einkum er stuðst við prestastefnudóma úr báðum biskupsdæmum, sem reyndust geyma ríkulegar heimildir um hegðan fólks og viðhorf til altarisgöngunnar. Annars vegar er rætt um guðfræðilegar og lagalegar forsendur altarisgöngunnar, með sérstakri áherslu á breytingar við siðaskipti um miðja 16. öld. Hins vegar eru einstök dómsmál tekin til nákvæmrar greiningar. Í ritgerðinni er rætt um ýmsa þætti sem ekki hafa áður fengið jafn ýtarlega umfjöllun í íslenskum fræðiritum. Má þar nefna þá löggjöf sem fjallaði um sakramentið, þjónustu presta við sjúkt fólk og dauðadæmt, sakramentisseðla, fyrirkomulag opinberrar aflausnar, sáttavinnu kirkjunnar manna á þessu tímabili og ólíka túlkun fólks á guðfræði sakramentisins. Þá er leitast við að greina eðli þeirrar stjórnsýslu sem birtist í dómstörfum kirkjunnar, gerð er grein fyrir hlutfalli einstakra málaflokka sem komu fyrir dóminn og hvernig biskupar dæmdu.

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