Category Archives: Refo500

Longlist RefoRC Book Award 2021

We are happy with all the books we received for the RefoRC Book Award 2021. Now we are pleased to present the longlist to you. The winner announcement will take place during the Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity, May 6-8, 2021.

Check out the list.

The Melanchthon Prize

Via Refo500 on facebook

Melanchthonpreis-Verleihung an Dr. Tobias Jammerthal erst am 26. Juni

Die Verleihung des 12. Internationalen Melanchthonpreises der Stadt Bretten an den Theologen Dr. Tobias Jammerthal wird erst am 26. Juni 2021 stattfinden. Darauf verständigten sich der Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Bretten Martin Wolff und Prof. Dr. Günter Frank, Direktor der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie (EMA) Bretten. Die wissenschaftliche Auszeichnung für eine Veröffentlichung im Wirkungskreis von Philipp Melanchthon findet alle drei Jahre stets Mitte Februar – um den Geburtstag des Reformators und Universalgelehrten – in dessen Heimatstadt statt. Die Festveranstaltung in der Gedächtnishalle des Melanchthonhauses war für den 20. Februar geplant. Die Lage der Corona-Pandemie ließ eine Durchführung nach jetzigem Stand nicht möglich werden.

Der Preisträger, Dr. Tobias Jammerthal, wurde bereits im Oktober als Preisträger benannt. Der gebürtige Karlsruher erhält die mit 7.500 Euro dotierte Auszeichnung für seine Studie „Philipp Melanchthons Abendmahlstheologie im Spiegel seiner Bibelauslegung 1520-1548“, die zugleich seine Doktorarbeit an der Universität Tübingen darstellt. Eine wissenschaftliche Findungskommission hatte die Promotionsschrift des Theologen für den Melanchthonpreis 2021 als würdig vorgeschlagen, der Gemeinderat der Stadt Bretten schloss sich dieser Empfehlung an und erkannte dem Theologen diesen Preis zu. Es handelt sich um eine hochdifferenzierte und gewichtige Arbeit, die das Verständnis Melanchthons anhand von Details im Grundsätzlichen neu justiert, heißt es in der Begründung.

The Theology of Heinrich Bullinger

W.P. Stephens’ last work before his untimely death was a volume on the theology of Heinrich Bullinger. This work was virtually fully completed save the chapter on the Lord’s Supper and has been edited by Joe Mock and Jim West at the wishes of the author and presents the theology of Bullinger following the same pattern of presentation as Stpehens utilized in his work on the Theology of Huldrych Zwingli. Each major theological topic is treated and fully described.

Get yourself a copy and get several for your friends.  Get everyone you know one!  It will be the best gift they ever get.

Congrats to the New Refo500 Director for Asia

All the details here at Refo500.  Congratulations, Prof. Dr. Nam Kyu Lee at Hapdong Theological Seminary.

Congratulations to the 2020 RefoRC Book Prize Winner

Paolo Astorri wins RefoRC Book Award 2020
Paderborn, May 13, 2020

For his book Lutheran Theology and Contract Law in Early Modern Germany (ca. 1520-1720), published by Ferdinand Schöningh, Paolo Astorri is awarded with the RefoRC Book Award 2020. The RefoRC Book Award is presented annually for publications related to Early Modern Christianity (c. 1450-1650). The Award aims to encourage academics to present their research. The author of the selected book will receive € 1000 and a certificate. Normally, the award ceremony takes place during the Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity in May. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no award ceremony this year. Paolo Astorri agreed to present himself, and his book in an interview, both in text and in a video. You can find the full Interview here:

About the author:
Paolo Astorri was for many years at the KU Leuven in Belgium, Faculty of Law, Department of Roman Law and Legal History. Currently he is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

About the book
Lutheran Theology and Contract Law in Early Modern Germany (ca. 1520-1720) is the dissertation of Paolo Astorri. Historians have extensively studied the contract doctrines developed by Roman Catholic theologians and canonists; however, they have largely neglected Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Johann Aepinus, Martin Chemnitz, Friedrich Balduin and many other reformers. This book focuses on those neglected voices of the Reformation, exploring their role in the history of contract law. The title is published as part of the RefoRC supported book series Law and Religion in the Early Modern Period.

About Ferdinand Schöningh
Founded in 1847, the publishing house Ferdinand Schöningh became one of the most renowned humanities publishing houses in Germany within a few years. Milestones in the company’s development were the co-founding of the textbook series Uni-Taschenbücher (UTB) in 1970 and the takeover of the Munich-based Wilhelm Fink Verlag in 1974. Since 2017 Ferdinand Schöningh and Wilhelm Fink are imprints of Brill Deutschland GmbH. In January 2018 mentis Verlag joined this strong association of academic publishers in the humanities.

About RefoRC
The Reformation Research Consortium, RefoRC, is a leading international network of research institutions focusing on Early Modern Christianity. It connects academics and supports them in their research activities by offering a varied program of conferences, research support, academic series, and more.

RefoRC Conference Info Update


Because of the corona virus pandemic, the Tenth Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity in Aarhus (planned May 27-29, 2020) has been cancelled. The conference is now scheduled for 6-8 May 2021 at the Research Centre for the Humanities in Budapest, Hungary.

Etc.  Take note.

The 10th Annual RefoRC Conference

See the details here.

The European reformations meant major changes in theology, religion, and everyday life. Some changes were immediate and visible in a number of countries: monasteries were dissolved, new liturgies were introduced, and married pastors were ordained, other more hidden. Theologically, as well as practically the position of the church in the society changed dramatically, but differently according to confession and political differences.

The influences of the theological, liturgical and organizational changes on everyday life have been studied from various perspectives, but often focusing on social disciplining, political levels and similarities across Europe more than differences between confessions. New theoretical positions within various fields as well as strong interdisciplinary approaches have made it timely to revisit the large questions of how the changes brought by the reformation within all confessional cultures throughout Europe influenced the everyday life of ordinary people within the church and within society.

The aim of this conference is to discuss how lived religion and everyday life and space were formed in the aftermath of the reformation, and how we can trace changes in material culture, in emotions, in social structures, in culture, which may be linked to the reformation and the development of confessional cultures.


Latomus and Luther- The Debate: Is every Good Deed a Sin?

V&R have now published a new work in the Refo500 Academic Series.  And I’m very excited about it because Luther’s ‘Against Latomus’ is one of his very best books.

Who was Jacob Latomus? What did he write in the series of lectures to which Luther penned an answer in 1521, an answer which is now so central to many interpretations of the great reformer? And how is the reading of that answer affected when it is preceded by an interpretation of what Latomus wrote?The study goes through the most important parts of Latomus’ treatise against Luther (1521). The aim is to identify Latomus’ theological convictions and thus to pin down who and what Luther was up against. The second and major part of the book is a reading of Luther’s pamphlet against Latomus (1521). Parallels are drawn with Latomus’ theology in order to facilitate as much as possible an appreciation of the differences between the two.The comparison between the two theologians shows that they speak completely different languages and that their viewpoints do not square at all. Basically their ways depart in their understanding of God’s word and how it is communicated to man. This generates two ways of perceiving the matter of theology, and of speaking theologically –: and prevents mutual understanding. Latomus cannot understand Luther’s view of the autonomy of God’s word and the special character of proclamation, and hence a theology which is incompatible with natural reason. Even though he accepts a division between a natural and a supernatural rationality, and thus admits that natural reason has a limit, he grants the very same natural reason an important role in the ascent of cognition towards revelation. Everything else – such as Luther’s theology – is a dehumanization of the human being. Luther, on the other hand, regards Latomus’ theology as a result of the impulse in sinful man towards ruling and controlling the word of God with his own inadequate natural abilities. In Luther’s eyes that proclamation of Christ, which in the shape of a human being comes to man in contradiction of everything human, here disappears in the twinkling of an eye.

For many it seems that Latomus, the foe of Luther, appeared as though out of no where.  But as is often the case in matters historical, there’s a lead up, a back story, to the events we are familiar with.  To change metaphors, the great historical iceberg called the Latomus affair is mostly submerged and the only part most see is the exposed point rising above the surf where Latomus and Luther enter battle.

The present work is an examination of the backstory, the submerged part, of the history of Latomus.  Beginning with a debate Erasmus was involved in shortly after his arrival in Leuven and moving forward as that debate unfolded (on theological methodology and the investigation of good works and sin) till the arrival of Latomus on the scene, our author sets the stage.  Eventually Luther enters the fray (as was his regular custom; i.e., where there’s a theological fight, Luther wants a piece of it).  And that, as they say, is when the stuff hit the fan.

Latomus was compelled to respond to Luther and he does so in relationship to many of the chief heads of theology.  Surprising no one, then, Luther attacks.  Once Luther has set the ground rules of scriptural interpretation, as he sees those issues, he goes to the heart of the debate:  are good works actually sinful works?  And here we have the central issue addressed:

Here for the first time we see a difference in the understanding of sin in Luther and Latomus. Latomus would never say that the justified man had sin as his everyday companion, as does Luther. That is why he cannot accept the presence of concupiscentia as a sin, but only a punishment. According to him the righteous man is devoid of sin until in concrete cases he is tempted to commit minor sins of commission, the so-called peccata venialia. Even though they are concrete separate sins, they remain nevertheless minor, because they are committed by one who is otherwise righteous, and Latomus would never think of saying that the righteous commit peccata robusta. In his ears that would be a contradiction.

Furthermore, and quite insightfully, we are informed that

The point therefore is that the truly righteous are not justified in themselves by their own goodness or righteousness, but only by Christ’s righteousness, in faith in Him. There is nothing of their own they can abide by and be safe in their relation to God. It is all nothing. No one, to look back briefly at what has been said in this section, is given a gift by the grace of God (acceptum donum gratiae) (WA 8, 79,32–33), which makes him righteous in himself and by nature (cf. WA 8, 69,4–6), and which he can present to God. Nobody has “through the grace of God” (per gratiam dei) (WA 8, 80,6–7), anything he can muster in this life and before God’s judgement, anything by dint of which “we can safely set aside His mercy as well as His judgement”. If we believe we do, we trust in ourself instead of God, and according to Luther that leads to the opposite of true good deeds.

Luther’s argument continues to the end of the work, giving Luther the last word (and the loudest) and thereby making sure that Luther’s viewpoint is the viewpoint which readers too should adopt.

When it comes to debates about faith and good works; sin and evil deeds, and all of the theological subheadings associated with those themes our author makes clear the importance of each.  This is a valuable and useful work.

The volume concludes with a helpful bibliography.  And this review ends with a helpful bit of advice: read this book.  It clarifies more than it obscures and answers more questions than it raises.  And for an academic monograph that’s quite an accomplishment.

An Interview With Paolo Astorri

Refo500 writes

Paolo Astorri wrote his dissertation on Lutheran Theology and Contract Law in Early Modern Germany (ca. 1520-1720). We interviewed him about his book.

What has Christian spirituality to do with law?

The Church has always been connected with law. Christ himself did not abolish the law. He invited Christians to an inner conversion. But the Christian could always be seduced by ‘the world’ and therefore Christ taught a procedure for fraternal correction. Christ also faced concrete legal problems (e.g. the issue of working during the sabbath). The first Christian communities had to deal with similar problems. During the Middle age and early modern era the sacrament of penance resembled legal proceedings and theologians were involved with the moral aspects of legal obligations.


Wissenschaftliche Tagung: Gegeneinander glauben – miteinander forschen?

In der Zeit vom 3. bis zum 5. Oktober dieses Jahres findet in der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek die Tagung Gegeneinander glauben – miteinander forschen? Paradigmenwechsel frühneuzeitlicher Wissenschaftskulturen statt.

Den Ausgangspunkt für diese Tagung, die in das Kooperationsprojekt „Konfessionskultur des Reformiertentums im Nord- und Ostseeraum“ zwischen unserer Einrichtung und dem Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte Mainz eingebettet ist, bildet das Verhältnis von frühneuzeitlicher Astronomie und Physik zur christlichen Religion im Allgemeinen und zu ihren konfessionsspezifischen Ausprägungen im Besonderen.


Reminder: Tenth Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity

May 27-29, 2020, the Tenth Annual RefoRC Conference on Early Modern Christianity will take place in Aarhus, hosted by the University of Aarhus.

Introduction — The European reformations meant major changes in theology, religion, and everyday life. Some changes were immediate and visible in a number of countries: monasteries were dissolved, new liturgies were introduced, and married pastors were ordained, other more hidden. Theologically, as well as practically the position of the church in the society changed dramatically, but differently according to confession and political differences.


The Council of Trent: Reform and Controversy in Europe and Beyond (1545-1700)

Exactly 450 years after the solemn closure of the Council of Trent on 4 December 1563, scholars from diverse regional, disciplinary and confessional backgrounds convened in Leuven to reflect upon the impact of this Council, not only in Europe but also beyond. Their conclusions are to be found in these three impressive volumes. Bridging different generations of scholarship, the authors reassess in a first volume Tridentine views on the Bible, theology and liturgy, as well as their reception by Protestants, deconstructing many myths surviving in scholarship and society alike. They also deal with the mechanisms ‘Rome’ developed to hold a grip on the Council’s implementation. The second volume analyzes the changes in local ecclesiastical life, initiated by bishops, orders and congregations, and the political strife and confessionalisation accompanying this reform process. The third and final volume examines the afterlife of Trent in arts and music, as well as in the global impact of Trent through missions.

All the details of the volume can be found here.   Just click the Leseprobe tab.  There you will find the table of contents, etc., so that those materials won’t be repeated here.

Readers of book reviews generally want to know what the book under consideration contain (and thanks to the internet, that information is now generally available on the publisher’s website) and, more importantly, if it’s worth buying or recommending to their library or even checking out from their lending source.

Further, potential readers of the book want to know if there are problems with it.  If it fails to meet the reader’s needs or doesn’t deliver the advertised scholarship then the review it receives should reflect those facts.  If, however, it meets expectations or surpasses them, it receives a more positive review.

This book meets expectations.  And it is the first of a planned three in the series.  Volume two will take in hand the Bishops and Princes along with Church and Politics.  And volume three will turn our attention to Art and Music followed by Global Catholicism.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit and wish to return to consideration of the present volume.  It’s highlight, for me, is the chapter titled Trent and the Latin Vulgate: A Louvain Project?  This really amazing piece traces the incredible significance of the Louvain-ers in the production and promulgation of the biblical text that would be chosen as THE Catholic Bible.   Seldom does one encounter such carefully reconstructed historical detail.  Text critics and students of the history of the Vulgate will benefit immensely from reading this essay.

Equally enjoyable is G. Frank’s essay on Melanchthon and Trent.  Perhaps because I enjoy Melanchthon so much or perhaps because Frank is such a clear writer.

Not, strictly speaking, a theological essay but rather a historical one is Sachet’s “Privilege of Rome: The Catholic Church’s Attempt to Control the Printed Legacy of the Council of Trent”.  The attempts of Rome to control the narrative about Trent by controlling what was published of and from it is extremely intriguing.  The Church of Rome has always manifested a fairly high level of control.  This essay shows how that mentality worked itself out in the wake of Trent.

Enjoyable too is the essay by John O’Malley on Trent and Vatican II.  Here he shows that in spite of the major differences between the two Councils, they share some amazing similarities.  ‘They nicely illustrate the paradox of history’, opines O’Malley in the closing paragraphs.  I will let readers discover for themselves the surprise in store.

I think this is a very fine collection of essays and if volumes two and three are as excellent, then this series will become standard fare for historians of the Catholic Church.  I am happy to recommend it to your personal library and to your research library.  It fills an important gap in that it goes into greater detail on the issues of the Council of Trent than more general treatments and histories do.

Where the general textbooks scratch the surface, this volume bores into the bone.

The Synod of Dordt Commemorative Conference

I hope this if live streamed or youtube-d.

The H. Henry Meeter Center is co-sponsoring “The Synod of Dordt Commemorative Conference,” on September 14th and 15th,  2018, in the Calvin Theological Seminary auditorium (3233 Burton St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546).

This two-day conference to commemorate the Synod of Dordt and its work brings together a range of experts who will explain in accessible presentations what the Synod did, why this gathering was significant at the time, and how this four-hundredth anniversary should be commemorated in churches and communities today.


Call For Submissions

The Journal of Early Modern Christianity (JEMC) is inviting submissions for the 2018 and 2019 issues. JEMC intends to contribute to interdisciplinary, interconfessional, and comparative research on early modern Christianity.  —

From Wittenberg to the World

Details here.

978-3-525-53126-6_600x600New publication at Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in the R5AS Series: From Wittenberg to the World. Essays on the Reformation and its Legacy in Honor of Robert Kolb, Charles Arand/Erik H. Herrmann/Daniel L. Mattson (eds.).

The book honours the Rev. Dr. Robert A Kolb, retired Director of the Institute for Mission Studies and Missions Professor in systematic theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and perhaps the leading authority on the development of “Wittenberg Theology” in the English-speaking world. At the same time, his teaching and writing, which continues without flagging, has emphasized the importance of translating and retranslating the historic Lutheran faith in terms that address contemporary issues and contemporary people. In this volume, colleagues and co-workers address and push forward Kolb insights into the history of the Reformation era and on the impact of those Reformation issues (and quarrels) on the life of the church in the world today.

With contributions by Charles Arand, L’ubomir Batka, Amy Nelson Burnett, Irene Dingel, Mary Jane Haemig, Scott Hendrix, Erik Herrmann, Werner Klän, David Lumpp, Mark Mattes, Daniel Mattson, Richard Muller, Paul Robinson, Robert Rosin, and Timothy Wengert.

See the contents here.

Readers are urged to consult the link immediately above where the table of contents and front matter are available.  Doing so permits you to see at a glance the great span of interesting essays which make up this very fine celebration of a very fine scholar’s work.

Robert Kolb began his scholarly career in 1968 and the vast array of publications he authored attest to his influence.  The bibliography the editors of the present work provide begins on page 327 and it is so extensive that it continues through page 355.  That’s twenty-eight pages!  That’s hundreds and hundreds of published works!  Kolb’s output is simply astonishing.  By contrast, my own bibliography is eight pages.  So Kolb has made me feel quite lazy and inadequate.

By the time he is finally done publishing on the subject of the Reformation his bibliography may well be in the 50 page range.

The contributors to this useful volume are also quite an impressive group.  Superstars in the field of Reformation research such as Amy Nelson Burnett, Scott Hendrix, Erik Herrmann, Richard Muller, Timothy Wengert and Irene Dingel all combine to make this gathering of essays very informative and educational.  This volume is indeed a very worthy addition to the prestigious Refo500 Academic Studies series published by Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.

The essays which the present reviewer found to be the most engaging were those of Wengert and Dingel, along with Burnett’s.  These three are superb while the remaining essays are all very good.  Special mention should also be made of Mattson’s enjoyable ‘What Did Luther Know about Islam and Why Did He Want to Know It?’  It is both informative and timely.

I recommend this volume.  Readers will enjoy it.  I promise.  And furthermore, I offer the following assurance:  you will enjoy this volume as much as fans of the Harry Potter books enjoy them and even more than that, you will learn about actual things instead of about make believe pretendings.  If not, I will happily allow you a rebuttal here.

Call For Papers

International conference 26-28 September 2019 at the European Melanchthon Academy, Bretten, entitled: The Mediation of Salvation (Sacraments) in Early Modern Theology (1450-1700) – a Transconfessional Perspective.

Go here for all the deets (that’s what the kids say, right?)

Conference Gender Balance at Refo500

Refo500 does a brilliant job of achieving gender balance at its conferences:

Here are the Annual RefoRC Conference 2019 keynote speakers:

  • Angela de Benedictis (Bologna): Theories of War, Revolt and Resistance in Early Modern Italy
  • Ian Campbell (Belfast): Early Modern University Debates on War and Religion
  • Irene Dingel (Mainz): TBA
  • Rebecca Giselbrecht (Zurich): Women at War – The Swiss Connections
  • Mark Greengrass (Sheffield): Wars of Religion in the Sixteenth Century and the Problem of Trust
  • Graeme Murdock (Dublin): TBA

So good on them.  More on the conference here.

Refo500 Meeting

The Eighth Annual RefoRC Conference is hosted by the University of Warsaw and will take place May 24-26, 2018.
Theme of Plenary Lectures: Reformation and Education

The Reformation was closely tied to the renovation of educational models from its very beginning. By questioning the model of the medieval university and establishing new pedagogical solutions, early modern scholars and teachers shaped subsequent generations of clergy and laity, enabling them to work for their local communities and engage in the public sphere. Often these educational agendas went well beyond changes in curricula and were oriented towards much deeper goals, such as the shaping of confessional identity or the achieving of universal religious peace through the advancement of learning. As one of the leading research and educational institutions in Poland and East-Central Europe, the University of Warsaw is the perfect venue to ask further questions about the complex relations between early modern religious and pedagogical reforms. The plenary papers will offer a multi-faceted approach to this topic and will be accompanied by a series of short papers discussing all kinds of subjects related to the history of the Reformation. The aim of the conference is thus to broaden and contextualize the intersections between religious and educational reform.

Refo500 Switzerland Tour

If you’re interested in visiting Switzerland and want to go with a well guided group, trip.  There are, I hear, a few slots left.

Deadline Extended

The deadline for submitting short paper proposals for the Eighth Annual RefoRC Conference, May 24-26, 2018 at the University of Warsaw has been extended to March 14, 2018.

Read more here.