Philipp Melanchthon

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Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Schwartzerdt
BirthplaceBretten, near Karlsruhe
Theologian, professor

Melanchthon, Philipp


(Greek name of P. Schwartzerd). Born Feb. 16, 1497, in Bretten, Baden; died Apr. 19, 1560, in Wittenberg. German humanist and theologian; a leader of the Lutheran Reformation (the moderate burgher wing). Son of a gunsmith.

In 1518, Melanchthon was appointed professor of Greek at the University of Wittenberg, where he became Luther’s closest companion and friend. Melanchthon was an ardent opponent of the Peasant War of 1524–26; he likewise opposed T. Miintzer, and the Anabaptists. As a theorist of Lutheranism, he generalized the principles of Lutheran theology. (He compiled the Loci communes rerum theologicarum, 1521, and the Augsburg Confession, 1530.) After Luther died in 1546, Melanchthon became the head of Lutheranism. He was the author of many pedagogical essays and textbooks, and he was involved in the reorganization of the school and university systems in Saxony and other areas of Germany and the propagation of a classical education (for which he was called Praeceptor Germaniae, “the teacher of Germany”); in education, however, he subordinated humanist ideals to the interests of the Lutheran Church and the princes.


Werke in Auswahl, vols. 1–7. Edited by R. Stupperich. Giitersloh, 1951–71.


Stupperich, R. Melanchthon. Berlin, 1960.
Stern, L. P. Melanchthon: Humanist, Reformator, Praeceptor Germaniae. Halle, 1963.