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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities

[This content is not available in "Englisch" yet] UB Heidelberg, Cpg 341, fol. 22r

The Narrative Dissemination of Religious Knowledge

Publication and Commentary of Spiritual Verse and Prose Texts from the 13th to the 16th century

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Ziegeler (University of Cologne) | Department of German Language and Literature I; Prof. Dr. Klaus Ridder (University of Tübingen) | Department of German Philology/Medieval Studies


Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

In parchment and paper manuscripts from the 13th to the 16th centuries, a limited amount of thus far overlooked short narrative texts that are secular and literary in addition to being religious were collected and written down. Following an eight-year project that was funded by the DFG and undertaken at the Universities of Cologne and Tübingen within the framework of which medieval German secular verse novels were successfully and timely completed, an application has been granted to edit and annotate short spiritual texts that are often transmitted in the same manuscripts. This project also has a planned duration of eight years, will be undertaken at the Universities of Cologne and Tübingen and is entitled: “The Narrative Dissemination of Religious Knowledge: Publication and Commentary of Spiritual Lyrical and Prose Texts from the 13th to the 16th century.” The goal of this project is the publication and commentary of German „spiritual“ rhyme and prose narratives found in a series of handwritten collections from the 13th to the 16th century. In total, the collection contains 179 texts of different literary genres and styles, each conveys religious knowledge narratively, and in many cases also discursively, but never unambiguously. Indeed, the flexible arrangement of spiritual texts in the book-like collections enables the formulation and discussion of intricate problems in the Christian religion. The publication and commentary of these texts, which have never been researched or recognized as a whole, will give contour to an important group of “popular” literary works from the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. It is this rarely seen literature that under the conditions of the pre-modern communication contributed to the fact that “…the reformers were able to build on a lay community who were sufficiently prepared for fundamental disputes over religious issues and capable of independent thought” (Williams-Krapp). The project will produce a print edition of the works as well an e-book and a digital, open access edition. Both the book and the online edition will contain the critical texts and their English translations. The print edition will also contain a selection of alternative variations of the texts as well as commentaries on the texts, while the online version will contain the complete set of alternative variations as well as multi-layered commentaries based on a series of set criteria.


Text: Hans-Joachim Ziegeler


Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur I
Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Ziegeler

Weitere Mitarbeiter*innen: Dr. Gudrun Felder, Manuela Gliesmann M.A.

E-mail h-j.ziegeler(at)