Fun Facts from Church History: Melanchthon’s Lectures on John

Melancthon1Melanchthon held lectures on the Gospel of John at the University of Wittenberg from February 11, 1522, until around March 11, 1523.*

So Luther took the notes and had them published, writing a witty and brilliant preface which begins

I have already purloined our Philip’s Annotations on three Epistles of Paul. And though he was not at liberty to rage against that thief Luther for it, he nevertheless thought he had been most satisfactorily avenged against me in that the little volume had come out so full of errors due to the negligence of the printers that I was nearly ashamed and regretted having invested my stolen goods so poorly. Meanwhile, he has lutherbeen making fun of me, hoping that henceforth I would abstain from such theft, having been taught a lesson by my predicament. But I, not at all troubled by this derision, have grown even more audacious, and now I take his Annotations on John the Evangelist not by stealth but by force, while the author resists in vain. But I do not wish to adorn them with words (they will commend themselves to the reader), lest I should have to endure his scornful frown again.*

The rest is just as good.

*Timothy J. Wengert, “Preface to Philip Melanchthon, Annotations on the Gospel of John (1523),” in Luther’s Works (ed. Christopher Boyd Brown; trans. Heath R. Curtis; vol. 59; Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2012), 5945.