“Necessaria est omnino […] historia, cui […] non invitus uni contulero, quidquid emeretur laudum universus artium orbis.”
“History is absolutely indispensable, on which alone I would not unwillingly heap all the praises that are due to the entire circle of arts and sciences.”
Philip Melanchthon in his inaugural speech as professor for the Wittenberg University
(De corrigendis adolescentiae studiis, 1518: Melanchthons Werke, vol. 3,
ed. R. Nürnberger, Gütersloh 1969, 39, 13–15).
The Wittenberg Reformation for Dartmouth College students
Online course: Translating Latin sources
What is the Wittenberg Center?
Wittenberg is the birthplace of the Reformation where Martin Luther called for a return to the Bible and its gospel message of grace, faith, and gratitude. The renewal of theology and praxis unleashed by these powerful ideas swept Europe, reshaping the churches and universities of Western Christendom which embraced the Reformation, and even those which did not. All of these renewal movements were deeply connected by their common roots in Wittenberg. Therefore, the mission of the Wittenberg Center for Reformation Studies is to study this pivotal moment in history and trace its impact on ecclesiastical renewal in the various European lands of the Sixteenth Century and beyond. Since the center seeks in particular to promote Reformation studies in English-speaking universities and churches, it has a special interest in the connection between the Continental Reformation and the Reformation in Great Britain. In sum, the Wittenberg Center will help its visitors, scholars, and researchers better understand the Reformation in all of its aspects, but especially its theological message, and then encourage them to translate the knowledge they gain into practical application for the church and the world.
Wittenberg Fellowship & the Center's Activities
In June 2022 the Wittenberg Center for Reformation Studies offers the first summer course on the German Reformation. Eleven doctoral students from different countries and two Research Fellows are coming for four weeks to Wittenberg to study Reformation history.
Recommended Resources & Teachings
Here you can find audio files and internet resources on Wittenberg and the Wittenberg Center.
“Studying Reformation history and theology in Wittenberg is a rich and exciting opportunity. To explore the Reformation is to enter into the turbulent times and troubled hearts of real people in real places. Being in Wittenberg, on the streets and in the buildings where Martin Luther and his colleagues read, wrote, and preached, brings their world - their words and their questions - to life.”Jonathan LinebaughUniversity of Cambridge
“The Wittenbergers are on the edge of civilization. If they had settled a little further east [i.e., of the Elbe river], they would have been in the midst of barbarism.”Martin LutherUniversity of Wittenberg
“The foundations of the church were laid, but only to the level of the ground. In the midst of these foundations stood an old chapel built of wood and plastered with clay; it was very dilapidated and had supports on all sides. It was about [...] 30 feet long and 20 feet wide. It had a narrow soiled gallery where twenty people could stand crowded together. On the south wall was a pulpit made of old, unplaned boards […] about two and a half feet above the ground. On the whole, it looked like a scene by painters depicting the stable at Bethlehem where Christ was born. […] In this poor, miserable, wretched chapel, in these last days of the world, God has caused His dear holy Gospel and the dear Child Jesus to be born anew and has caused this Child to be unwrapped, in order to show to all the world what a beautiful, lovely, comforting and blessed Child Jesus is, from whom we all take and receive our blessedness, the payment for sin and eternal life. Of all the minsters, monasteries or places of worship on earth of that time, of which there were many hundreds of thousands, God chose for this purpose [...] only this poor, unsightly little chapel. From this chapel the spirit of the mouth of the Lord has come and blown down the Antichrist. […] It was in this church that Doctor Martinus first preached.”Friedrich MyconiusContemporary of Luther and historian of the Reformation about the chapel of the Augustinian hermit's friary that stood in the middle of the foundations for the church that was never finished
“Wittenberg is exactly the right place to show that the Reformation is much more than just Wittenberg and much more than only a small section of history: At the Wittenberg Center, Reformation history is pursued with a broad horizon, and in relation to the present. The fact that this is done in international cooperation, with different generations of students, doctoral candidates and researchers working together, and with a view to today's ecclesiastical reality, is exactly the right way to go. I am very happy to contribute my perspective from the German southwest.”Matthias A. DeuschleUniversity of Tübingen