Paulus spricht zu den Colossern, 1551.


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CITATION: Philipp Melanchthon Paulus spricht zu den Colossern, MSS 115, Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University. 

Biographical Note

Philipp Melanchthon, born Philipp Schwar(t)zerd on 16 February 1497 in Bretten, Germany wasa prominent humanist who went on to become one of the early leaders of the German Reformation. He received a B.A. degree from Heidleberg University in 1511 and an M.A. from Tuebingen University in 1514. His quick learning abilities and translations of Greek classics earned him early recognition from such prominent humanists as Reuchlin and Erasmus.

Melanchthon met Martin Luther in 1518, when he arrived at Wittenberg University to teach Greek language and literature. While teaching, he studied and earned a Bachelor of Bible degree in 1519. He was never ordained as a priest and never took a higher degree. In 1521, Melanchthon in his Loci communes presented Protestantism's first systematic theology. In the 1520s he developed the educational program that was used to implement the Reformation in Germany. In 1527 he played a key role in drawing up the Articles of Visitation to be used by the government to survey, then to supervise, religious and moral life in the parishes of Saxony. At the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, he drew up the Augsburg Confession, recognized as the major symbol of the Lutheran Church.

Melanchthon's later years were filled with discord and are marked by misunderstanding. Upon Luther's death in 1546 he assumed the role of leader of the Reformation, but was unable to hold the already fragmented movement together. Publication of his 1548 letter to Catholic Statesman Christopher von Carlowitz, which criticized Luther, caused many to view him with distrust. Melanchthon arranged compromises acceptable to the Catholic Church during the Augsburg and Leipzig Interims. His last major effort to reconcile differences between Protestant and Catholic theologians occurred at the colloquy at Worms in 1557. Philipp Melanchthon died on 19 April 1560, and was buried in Wittenberg, in the Castle Church next to Martin Luther.

Note: Information in this Historical Note was obtained from The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, edited by Julius Bodensieck and, the Lutheran Cyclopedia, edited by Edwin L. Lueker.

Scope and Content Note

An unpublished manuscript, signed and dated (1551) by Philipp Melanchthon. Written on three sides of two sheets, it is a meditation on the Third Chapter of Paul's Letter to the Colossians. The two leaves on which the meditation is written (19 x 29 cm.) show signs of insect damage and have been repaired with Japanese paper. The verso of the title page holds the inscription "C. S. V. R. mit Galt" near the top with a less readable second line. Near the bottom is the inscription "1551 mit Galt". For their protection, both pieces were encapsulated in mylar. A translation of the manscript follows.


Page 1                 Paul Speaks to the Colossians
                                 Chapter 3

               The word of the Lord Christ
               may in you dwell richly
               in all wisdom and may it
               you among yourselves teach and remind.

               This speech (verse) is an earnest
               command in which all men
               are commanded that we God's
               word should learn and often consider
               should whether with reading or
               with sermons hearing

Page 2              and is most necessary these reasons
               to consider.

               The first, God has himself revealed
               by His own words in which
               must one Him recognize and not other thoughts of
               God judge.

               The second reason, The given Scripture
               is not only for learning necessary
               but God will also thereby
               effect it that the hearts might be changed
               frightened comforted [and] living be made
               In terms of this verse the Gospel
               is God's power to salvation to all
               who in it believe and who desire to God
               to be converted and who desire comfort to have

Page 3              then must this the beginning
               be in which you God's
               word consider.

               Therefore speaks Paul. It must
               in us dwell that is it
               must (in) us not a strange
               guest be yes were this word dwells there dwells
               at once also God Himself.
               Would then that God in you
               might dwell then would his word
               in you dwell seriously (would it be)
               learned and observed

                         Phillipus Melan
                         1551     1551

Last Modified: 2006 November 14