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Luther's LivesTwo Contemporary Accounts of Martin Luther$
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Ralph Keen and Thomas D. Frazel

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780719061042

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719061042.001.0001

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Philip Melanchthon and the historical Luther

Philip Melanchthon and the historical Luther

(p.7) 1 Philip Melanchthon and the historical Luther
Luther's Lives

Ralph Keen

Manchester University Press

If Luther remains a figure of heroic proportions, it is due as much to the work of his admirers as to his own efforts. And Philip Melanchthon, Luther's closest colleague, was so successful in creating a legendary Luther that his own role in Reformation history has been regarded as less substantial and influential than it actually was. After being called to Wittenberg, Melanchton showed potential to make it a center for humanism. Later, the ninety-five issues that Martin Luther listed as debatable struck at the heart of Catholic practice. They also served as articles in an indictment of traditional ecclesiastical authority. Within a year Luther would become the pole around which Western Christendom would orientate itself. Within three years Luther himself would be condemned and excommunicated by the Roman church; and before his death the dividing lines that demarcate the Western confessions to this day would be firmly in place.

Keywords:   Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Reformation history, humanism, Wittenberg, ecclesiastical authority, Western Christendom

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