The Passional of Christ and Antichrist and The Antithesis of the Life of Christ and Antichrist in Pictures

Edmund Wareham Wanitzek, Ulrich Bubenheimer, Henrike Lähnemann

Research output: Book/ReportBook

81 Downloads (Pure)


The Passional Christi und Antichristi (Passional of Christ and Antichrist), published in May 1521 in Wittenberg, has been described by Robert Scribner "as the most successful work of visual propaganda produced by the Reformation". It contains thirteen sets of woodcuts, produced by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), contrasting the life of Christ with that of the Antichrist, interpreted as the pope. Underneath each image are bible quotations, extracts from canon law and authorial comments, provided by the Professor of Greek at Wittenberg University, Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), and the Wittenberg jurist, Johannes Schwertfeger (c. 1488-1524). Evidence points to the fact that Melanchthon and Schwertfeger initially wrote these in Latin, before they were translated into German. However, the Latin edition, the Antithesis figurata vitæ Christi et Antichristi (Antithesis of the Life of Christ and Antichrist in Pictures), was only printed in Wittenberg after the appearance of the German. Subsequent editions of the Passional expanded the original concept, by including new sets of contrasts and further paratextual elements.

On the quincentenary of its first publication, this volume combines the latest research in both German and English to offer new reflections on the compilation and transmission of this important pamphlet. It presents the first critical edition and translation into English of the Latin Antithesis, based on the copy held in Oxford's Bodleian Library, Douce C. 313, and demonstrates that there were in fact two print variants of the Antithesis. Subsequently it offers a transcription, translation and facsimile of the third edition of the Passional printed by Matthäus Maler in Erfurt based on the copy in Oxford's Taylor Institution Library, ARCH.8°.G.1521(19). Finally, it provides a transcription and translation of all the new textual elements in the second Strasbourg edition of the Passional published by Johann Knobloch the Elder in 1521, based on the copy held in the Bodleian Library, Tr. Luth. 250a. A facsimile is also provided. Introductions by Edmund Wareham and Ulrich Bubenheimer and commentaries accompanying the edition provide contextual evidence to help readers navigate their way through the pamphlet and better understand the relationship between Latin and German and text and image in the early years of the Reformation. It is fully open access available via https: //
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherTaylor Institution Library
Number of pages114
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameTreasures of the Taylorian Series One: Reformation Pamphlets

Cite this