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Vol. 50 no. 4: Spring 2017

Paul Peucker, A Time of Sifting: Mystical Marriage and the Crisis of Moravian Piety in the Eighteenth Century

  • Marsha Keith Schuchard
2 March 2017
02 Mar. 2017


Paul Peucker, former archivist of the Moravian archives in Herrnhut, Germany, and current director of the church’s archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has pieced together the reality of the sexual excesses practiced and encouraged by Christel [Christian Renatus, son of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf] from the fragmentary surviving documents of the Sifting Time. He also places them within the context of Zinzendorf’s own beliefs about the “mystical marriage” between the believer and Christ, especially the count’s teaching that sexual intercourse within marriage was a liturgical act in which the couple could experience full union with Jesus. The Moravians’ pioneering techniques of sex education infused a spiritual dimension to marital copulation that was very similar to that of Jewish Kabbalists.