Philip Melanchthon: biography, work history, works

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Philip Melanchthon: biography, work history, works
Philip Melanchthon: biography, work history, works

January 31, 2019 marks the 522nd anniversary of the birth of Philipp Melanchthon, a famous humanist, theologian, teacher and prominent figure in the Protestant Reformation in Germany. Years later, Reformation experts are unanimous: it could never have happened without him. In 2018, on August 28, the 500th anniversary of his inaugural speech delivered at the University of Wittenberg was celebrated. He was Martin Luther's best friend and his favorite intellectual sparring partner.

Biography Facts

Philipp Melanchthon (Philipp Schwartzerd), son of Georg Schwarzerd and Barbara Reiter, was born in Bretten, Germany on February 15, 1497. After his father's death in 1508, his cousin Johannes Reuchlin took charge of Philip's education. His brother, a famous German humanist, instilled in him a love for Latin and classical literature.

Melanchthon was a gifted child beyond his years thatallowed him to enter the University of Heidelberg at the age of twelve. In 1511 he received a bachelor's degree, and in 1512 he applied for a master's degree. But he is rejected because of the youth of the applicant. In order not to waste time, and having a thirst for knowledge, Philipp Melanchthon enters the University of Tübingen, where he studies medicine, law and mathematics.

Philip Melanchthon (c.1530)

Books and textbooks of Melanchthon

After graduating from the University of Tübingen, the young man received a master's degree in arts, and in 1514 began teaching at this university for beginners. It is clear that Philip was familiar with the Greek language, and he even changed his German name "Schwarzderdt" ("black earth") to the Greek equivalent: Melanchthon.

When he was 21, he had already published several works, including a manual on the grammar of the Greek language (1518), wrote important textbooks on subjects such as rhetoric, ethics, physics and astrology. The works of F. Melanchthon were highly appreciated by Desiderius Erasmus - philosopher, writer, publisher. His work as an organizer of education allowed him to carry out a major school and university reform in Saxony, which has become a model for other countries.

Meet Martin Luther

Thanks to the recommendation of his cousin Reuchlin, in 1518 Philip was invited to the University of Wittenberg as a professor of Greek. At the same time, his great-uncle recommended Philip to Martin Luther. Despite a 14-year difference inage, impulsiveness and emotionality of Martin, a friendship began between them. Under his influence, Philip became interested in theology. In 1519, Melanchthon accompanied Luther to the Leipzig Disputation, and received a bachelor's degree in theology from Wittenberg in the same year.

Poster Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon

Phenomenal organization

Melanchthon's energy seemed to be inexhaustible. He was also very organized. Philip began his day at 2:00 in the morning, at 6:00 he lectured to 600 students. His theological courses were attended by 1,500 students. Nevertheless, between all his classes, lectures and courses, Philip found time for his personal life. In Wittenberg, he met the daughter of the mayor of the city, Katherine Krapp. In 1520 they got married. Four children were born in her marriage - Anna, Philip, George and Magdalene.

Attitude towards religious issues

Melanchthon stubbornly refused the title of Doctor of Divinity. And he never accepted ordination. His desire was to remain a humanist, and for the rest of his life he continued his work on the classics of theology. F. Melanchthon wrote the first treatise on the "gospel" doctrine in 1521. It deals mainly with practical religious matters, sin and grace, law and gospel, justification and regeneration.

Based on the Scriptures, Melanchthon argued that sin is something more than an external act. It transcends the mind into the human will and emotions, so that the individual cannot simply decide to do good deeds andearn merit before God. Melanchthon spoke of original sin as a primordial inclination and exorbitant self-care that spoils all human actions. But God's grace comforts man with forgiveness, since human deeds, although imperfect, are answered in joy and gratitude for divine benevolence.

Philip Melanchthon (1532)

Compositions on "The Common Places of Theology", "The Duties of a Preacher" and "Elements of Rhetoric", Philip Melanchthon wrote in 1529-1432. In them, he develops the concept of Lutheran preaching.

German Bible

In 1522, Melanchthon helps Luther finish translating the New Testament into German. His friend Martin believed that the Bible should be in the homes of ordinary people. The simplicity, immediacy, and insistence of Luther's character showed up in the translation, as in everything else he wrote. The translation of the Bible was published in six parts in 1534. Melanchthon, Luther, as well as Johannes Bugenhagen, Kaspar Kreuziger and Matthäus Aurogallus worked on the print project.

Working at the university, he deals with various topics. A year later, Philipp Melanchthon, as the driving force behind the reforms in university education, was appointed rector of the Lutherstadt Wittenberg University. He lectures on world history and works on the interpretation of biblical texts, publishes works on anthropology and physics. Melanchthon pursues his dream - the development of schools and universities. During his lifetime he was called the "teacher of Germany", and the Wittenbergthe university gained worldwide fame thanks to his name. Melanchthon developed the charter of the university, which spoke about the training of theologians and ministers of the renewed church, literate, versed in ancient culture.

Reformer Philip Melanchthon

Melanchthon is a practitioner of education

Philip was an opponent of scholasticism, the goal of education was the acquisition of scientific thinking and eloquence. The curriculum, according to the reform, should include such exact sciences as mathematics, physics, metaphysics. Compulsory in the curriculum should be Greco-Roman literature. Philip Melanchthon believed that students should correctly compose letters, make translations, be able to speak and discuss, and suggested using classical literature as didactic material.

A lot of effort has been made to make reformist ideas a reality. Melanchthon had students all over Germany, and many German universities were reformed in a Protestant way.

Augsburg Confession

At the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, Melanchthon was the leading spokesman for the Reformation, and it was he who produced the "Augsburg Confession" which influenced other statements of confidence in Protestantism. Of the 28 articles of the Lutheran faith, the first 21 affirm the foundations of Lutheranism, while the last seven point out the main differences between Lutheranism and the Roman Catholic Church. In his "Augsburg Confession" - a great work, Philipp Melanchthon sought to be loyal to Catholics.

If you look at the rolethis man in the turmoil of troubled times, he was not ready to play the role of leader. The life he longed for was the quiet existence of a scientist. He was always solitary, timid and moderate. Prudent and peaceful, with a pious mind and a deeply religious upbringing, he never lost his attachment to the Catholic Church and to many of its ceremonies. That is why he sought to keep the peace for as long as possible.

Bronze statue of Philip Melanchthon

Melanchthon gained a reputation as a religious reformer, which somewhat damaged his academic career.

Apologizing for "Confession"

The alliance between the two minds of Luther and Melanchthon who shaped the Lutheran reform is interesting to explore as they were unequal associates. "Apostle of the Poor and Simple" vs. "Apostle of Higher Education"; a pilgrim going to his God through clouds of demons and temptations, against a moderate disciple of the truth; coarse peasant manners versus gentle politeness…

On what did the friendship of such different people, with different views on religious topics, rest? Luther uncompromisingly fought against Catholicism and Zwinglianism, and his friend Philip was always ready for a compromise, seeking to balance the disturbed unity of the Church…

An important document in the history of Lutheranism was Melanchthon's apology for the "Augsburg Confession" (1531). He was accused of being willing to compromise with the Catholic Church. However, Melanchthon claimed to knowabout how people condemn his moderation, but you can not listen to the noise of many people. We must work for the world and the future. It will be a great blessing for everyone if unity is achieved.

Portrait of Philip Melanchthon

Mediatorial role in theology

After the death of Martin Luther, Philip becomes the head of the reform movement in Germany and the Evangelical Church in Saxony. But, no matter how much he wanted to reconcile the Catholic Church with representatives of the radical wing of the Reformation, sharp criticism poured from both sides, and did not stop until his death.

Melanchthon fulfills the mission of a mediator between the positions of the Lutherans, conducts a dialogue with the Catholic Church, enters into relations with representatives of the Orthodox Church. He sent the text of the "Augsburg Confession" translated by him into Greek to the Patriarch of Constantinople, thereby believing that he would start a dialogue between Lutheran and Orthodox theologians.

Stamp with a portrait of Philip Melanchthon

The Roman Catholic Church saw the Reformation as a threat to its own influence and creates, as the main means of combating it, the Inquisition. The counter-reformation is led by the Jesuit order. Philipp Melanchthon at the same time (1845-1548) was preparing the texts of the Augsburg and Leipig interims - temporary church rites, for the rapprochement of Protestants with Catholics. In 1557 he takes part in the Second Confessional Debate at Worms and Heidelberg (on the reform of the university).

Philip's wife died in October 1557. Not for longPhilip lived after her death. The heart of the great reformer stopped beating on April 19, 1560. Melanchthon was buried in the castle church of Wittenberg, next to the grave of his friend Martin Luther.

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