Philipp Melanchthon, Paulus sprict zu den Colossern, 1551 (MSS 115)

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.

An unpublished manuscript, signed and dated (1551) by Philipp Melanchthon.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.

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Page 1:

Page 1 Translation:

Paul Speaks to the Colossians

Chapter 3

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

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

Page 2:

Page 2 Translation:

and it is most necessary to consider these reasons.

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

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

Page 3:

Page 3 Translation:

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

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

Phillipus Melan[chthon]
1551 1551

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