Reading the Reformation : Luther

On 14, 15 and 16 February 2017, the Cunningham Lectures at New College will mark the 500th Luther anniversary, with lectures by Professor Kaufmann covering Europe, Reformation and Luther.

New College Library holds outstanding Reformation collections that support the theme of the first lecture, Book, Print and Reformation. This includes examples of Luther’s pamphlets like the one below, from the early part of his career at the University of Wittenberg.

Luther, Martin. Auslegung und Deutung des heylige vater unsers … Leipzig, 1518. New College Library tpGT 2 1518

Each pamphlet, printed using the newly developed printing press technology, was cheaply produced and easily distributed, allowing the ideas they contained to spread quickly.

New College Library also holds some of Luther’s best known works, such as De Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae (1520), which attacks the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation, as well as the Papacy.

Luther, Martin. De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae. Wittenberg, 1520. New College Library tGT 2 1520 D

New College Library also holds Contra Henricum Regem (1522), Luther’s response to Henry VIII of England’s Assertio septem sacramentorum (or Defence of the Seven Sacraments) (1521).

Luther, Martin. Contra Henricum regem Angliae. Wittemberg, 1522. New College Library tGT 2 1522 C

The 1543 edition of Luther’s Larger Catechism below was printed before Luther’s death in 1546. Aimed at aiding clergymen to teach their congregations and parents their children, it is an illustration of how Luther’s publications had moved over time from protest pamphlets against the established Church to the foundations of a new denomination. Although the binding is probably a later addition, the white vellum wrapper and brass clasp show this to have been an high value item.The smaller size of the book makes it practical for personal reading and family use. The spine has a gold embossed stamp for ‘New College’.

Luther, Martin. Catechismus maior. Frankfurt, 1543. New College Library tGT2 1543 C

One of Luther’s major works was his translation of the Bible, first the New Testament in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534. New College holds an 1565 edition of Luther’s complete Bible.

Luther, Martin. Biblia, das ist, Die gantze Heilige Schrifft Deudsch. Wittemberg, 1565. New College Library B.r.299

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

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