Die „Christliche Kirchenordnung der Stadt Reuall“

In: Forschungen zur baltischen Geschichte
Author: Lea Kõiv

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The „Christian Church Order of the City of Tallinn“

The draft of Tallinn’s Christian Church Order (Entwurf der „Christlichen Kirchenordnung der Stadt Reuall“) is kept in the Tallinn City Archives and is believed to be the only set of rules of its kind developed for this city. While the order is an integral part of Reval’s and Estonia’s ecclesiastical history during the early modern period, it has so far mostly attracted the attention of researchers as a source for the history of books, Lutheran ecclesiastical art and funeral traditions. This article provides a first closer look at this document with a focus on its character. To do so, the Church Order is viewed within the context of the reformation and the evolution of church institutions and religious life in Tallinn. The paper discusses the conditions of its production and its background and theological argumentation is also analysed. Until now, there has been no agreement on when exactly the order was finalized and different years have been suggested – this article, however, establishes the date of the production of this draft order as 1606.

The completion of this draft of the Church Order is an important milestone in the evolution of church life in Reval. It systematically summarises and describes the rules that had been developed for ecclesiastical life in the city within the context of the changes that had taken place from the time of the Reformation in the 1520s until the beginning of the 17th century. The draft was actually supposed to serve only as an initial guideline, however, the rules and norms described in it formed the main basis of ecclesiastical life until 1692 when the 1686 Swedish ecclesiastical law came into effect in Reval. The substantial, 94-folio-page Church Order as a practical manual for the church in 17th century Tallinn will remain a desideratum for future research.

The Entwurf der „Christlichen Kirchenordnung der Stadt Reuall“ deserves closer attention within the wider context of ecclesiastical history. As one of many set of rules developed as a result of the Reformation and a relatively late example of the genre, the order follows the example of Lübeck’s Kirchenordnung (1531) by Johannes Bugenhagen, a pioneer of Lutheran ecclesiastical law, and the ecclesiastical code of Saxony (1580) by Jacob Andreae, one of the authors of the Book of Concord – the ecclesiastical standard that marked the beginning of a new Lutheran doctrine. As such, the Tallinn Order reflects Lutheran customs that were widely followed and accepted by the 17th century. As is common for Lutheran codes, the rules and norms described in the order draw on the guiding principle of the Reformation – the sola scriptura – and rely on the Bible and famous theologists’ writings, mainly Martin Luther’s and Johannes Bugenhagen’s. The reception of Lübeck’s and Saxony’s Kirchenordnung, as well as the Bible and other Lutheran writings in Tallinn’s order each deserve separate analysis.


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