Philip Melanchthon

Philip Melanchthon
Portrait of Philip Melanchthon, 1537, by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Philipp Schwartzerdt

16 February 1497
Died19 April 1560(1560-04-19) (aged 63)
Alma mater
Years active16th century
Theological work
Tradition or movementLutheranism

Philip Melanchthon[a] (born Philipp Schwartzerdt;[b] 16 February 1497 – 19 April 1560) was a German Lutheran reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems. He stands next to Luther and John Calvin as a reformer, theologian, and moulder of Protestantism.[1]

Melanchthon along with Luther denounced what they believed was the exaggerated cult of the saints, asserted justification by faith, and denounced the coercion of the conscience in the sacrament of penance (confession and absolution) by the Catholic Church, which they believed could not offer certainty of salvation. Both rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation, but not the belief that the body and blood of Christ are present with the elements of bread and wine in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Lutheran view of sacramental union contrasts with the understanding of the Roman Church that the bread and wine cease to be bread and wine at their consecration (retaining the accidents of both). Melanchthon made the distinction between law and gospel the central formula for Lutheran evangelical insight. By the "law", he meant God's requirements both in Old and New Testament; the "gospel" meant the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Early life and education

He was born Philipp Schwartzerdt on 16 February 1497, at Bretten where his father Georg Schwarzerdt was armorer to Philip, Count Palatine of the Rhine.[2] His birthplace, along with almost the whole city of Bretten, was burned in 1689 by French troops during the War of the Palatinate Succession. The town's Melanchthonhaus was built on its site in 1897.

In 1507 he was sent to the Latin school at Pforzheim, where the rector, Georg Simler of Wimpfen, introduced him to the Latin and Greek poets and to Aristotle. He was influenced by his great-uncle Johann Reuchlin, a Renaissance humanist; it was Reuchlin who suggested Philipp follow a custom common among humanists of the time and change his surname from "Schwartzerdt" (literally "black earth"), into the Greek equivalent "Melanchthon" (Μελάγχθων).[3]

Philipp was only eleven when in 1508 both his grandfather (17 October) and father (27 October) died within eleven days.[4] He and a brother were brought to Pforzheim to live with his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Reuter, sister of Reuchlin.[5]

The next year he entered the University of Heidelberg, where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, and astronomy/astrology, and became known as a scholar of Greek.[6] Denied the master's degree in 1512 on the grounds of his youth, he went to Tübingen, where he continued humanistic studies but also worked on jurisprudence, mathematics, and medicine.[citation needed] While there he was also taught the technical aspects of astrology by Johannes Stöffler.[7]

After gaining a master's degree in 1516 he began to study theology. Under the influence of Reuchlin, Erasmus, and others, he became convinced that true Christianity was something different from the scholastic theology as taught at the university. He became a conventor (repentant) in the contubernium and instructed younger scholars. He also lectured on oratory, on Virgil and on Livy.

His first publications were a number of poems in a collection edited by Jakob Wimpfeling (c. 1511),[8] the preface to Reuchlin's Epistolae clarorum virorum (1514), an edition of Terence (1516), and a Greek grammar (1518).

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Philipp Melanchthon
беларуская: Філіп Меланхтан
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Філіп Мэлянхтон
български: Филип Меланхтон
Bahasa Indonesia: Philipp Melanchthon
Lëtzebuergesch: Melanchthon
македонски: Филип Меланхтон
norsk nynorsk: Philipp Melanchthon
Plattdüütsch: Philipp Melanchthon
português: Filipe Melâncton
slovenčina: Philipp Melanchthon
slovenščina: Philipp Melanchthon
српски / srpski: Филип Меланхтон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Philipp Melanchthon
українська: Філіпп Меланхтон
Tiếng Việt: Philip Melanchthon