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Some Background – Johann Gerhard (1582-1637)

Granger Archive

Johann Gerhard (1582-1637)

Given that the focus of a great deal of this blog will be on Johann Gerhard’s Meditationes Sacrae, it would be prudent to introduce the “archtheologian of Lutheranism” with this quick biographical sketch from Lueker, Erwin L., Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson, eds., 2000. The Christian Cyclopedia.  St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House*:

(October 17, 1582–August 17, 1637). “Archtheologian of Lutheranism”; uncle of J. A. Quenstedt*; b. Quedlinburg, Ger.; attended school at Quedlinburg till 1598. At the age of 15 he went through a critical illness and severe depression, during which he expected to die. This experience permanently deepened his piety and increased his understanding of Christian tribulation. His pastoral adviser, J. Arnd,* persuaded him to study theol.; throughout life Gerhard regarded him as his father in God.

When the plague swept through Quedlinburg, Gerhard entered school at Halberstadt 1598; attended univs. at Wittenberg (1599, philos., theol.; 1601, medicine), Jena (1603, theol.), and Marburg (1604, theol.); returned 1605 as student and lecturer to Jena, where he received his doctorate in theol. November 13, 1606. In summer 1606 he had been made supt. at Heldburg under duke John* Casimir of Coburg; ordained August 14, 1606; gen.supt. Coburg 1615; prof.Jena; advisor to churchmen and statesmen.

Gerhard was the most influential of 17th c.Luth. theologians. He was an early participant in the renewal of Aristotelian metaphysics that began in Ger.univs.ca. 1600. He decisively influenced Prot. theologians to study the ev. character of pre-Reformarion Christianity. In the doctrine of Scripture he made a significant advance by treating Scripture not as the object of faith but as the principium (basis) of theol. knowledge. The doctrine of justification is treated (as it was by the Reformers) as the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae (the article with which the ch. stands or falls).

Works include Patrologia;Loci theologici, in which he combined the pattern of P. Melanchthon’s* topical (“local”) arrangement with methodology developed by G. Zabarella*; Meditationes sacrae, his most popular work, which, tr. into all major Eur. languages, attained a circulation next in order to the Bible and Thomas* á Kempis‘ Imitatio Christi; Confessio catholica, a model for ev. studies of pre-Reformation RC thought; Schola pietatis. RPS

See also Erbermann, Veit;Weimarische Bibelwerk, Das.

E. R. Fischer, Vita I. Gerhardi (Leipzig, 1723); B. V. Hägglund, Die heilige Schrift und ihre Deutung in der Theologie Johann Gerhards (Lund, 1951); R. P. Scharlemann, Thomas Aquinas and John Gerhard (New Haven, Connecticut, 1964); E. Troeltsch, Vernanft und Offenbarung bei Johann Gerhard und Melanchthon (Göttingen, 1891); J. Wallmann, Der Theologiebegriff bel Johann Gerhard und Georg Calixt (Tübingen, 1961)

*A great resource for all manner of questions about theology, Reformation history, Lutheran doctrine, and the Church universal.