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Melanchthon, Philipp

(901 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) was the most significant German reformer after Martin Luther. Melanchthon was born in Bretten, Palatinate, as the son of the armorer George Schwarzerdt. After attending the distinguished Pforzheim Latin School, he matriculated in Heidelberg in 1509 at the early age of 12. (That year also his surname was changed from Schwarzerdt to the Greek equivalent, Melanchthon [black earth].) He received his bachelor of arts in 1511 and from 1512 studied in Tübingen, where he …

Calvin, John

(1,439 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Born July 10, 1509, at Noyon in northern France, John Calvin became one of the most influential of the second generation of Reformers. His work was of significance throughout Europe and beyond. His theological development, confessional importance, ecclesiastical consolidation, and international training of reformers were lasting impulses throughout his life and for ages to come. The son of a notary in the bishop’s secretarial service who was excommunicated for financial conflicts with the church in 1528, Calvin was at first destined for a career in …

Bucer, Martin

(909 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Modern research has rightly come to see in Martin Bucer (1491–1551) one of the main leaders of the Reformation. Educated at the famous Schlettstadt grammar school, he became the reformer of the imperial city of Strasbourg. Having first made an intensive, Thomistically oriented study of Scholastic theology, he then came under the lasting influence of the humanism of D. Erasmus (1469?-1536). His crucial experience, however, was his encounter with M. Luther (1483–1546) at the Heidelberg Disputation…

Zwingli, Ulrich

(936 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Ulrich (Huldrych, Huldreich) Zwingli (1484–1531), a Zurich reformer, was perhaps the most important figure in German Switzerland and southwest Germany for the initial phase of the early Reformation. His theology, distinctively formed above all in the theological argument with Martin Luther and related particularly to the urban experience, represents a specific interpretation of the Reformation message and forms an essential theological-historical element of the development of the Reformed confession, which had been evolving since the late 1520s. Zwingli was born on Janua…

Müntzer, Thomas

(785 words)

Author(s): Kaufmann, Thomas
Little is known about the early life of the radical reformer and theologian Thomas Müntzer (ca. 1489–1525), who was born in Stolberg, Thuringia. The first reliable witness to his life is his 1506 matriculation entry at the University of Leipzig. He was definitely enrolled in the University of Frankfurt an der Oder in 1512, from which he probably graduated. After ordination in the Halberstadt Diocese, he was active as a minister in Brunswick, though he also had a sinecure in Aschersleben. He apparently studied…