January 16th, 2006


Theological Notebook: My Semester with Martin Luther

How cool is this?  (Answer: Way cool.)  Here's the class I'll be TAing for this semester.  This is Mickey's specialty, and I've never done a course solely focused on Luther before, so I'm quite pumped about the reading and the lectures, myself. Naturally, of course, you should all take advantage of this splendid syllabus, buy the books yourselves, and read along. Uh-huh.

Marquette University                                                            Coughlin Hall 102
Spring 2006                                                                            Email: mickey.mattox@marquette.edu
T Th 11:00 – 12:15                                                                   Office Hours:  T Th 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Emory T. Clark Hall, Room 119
                                                                                                  Teaching Assistant:
                                                                                                  Mr. Mike Novak
                                                                                                  Office Hours:

Martin Luther is arguably the single most significant theologian in western Christianity for the last 500 years.  A Catholic by birth, a priest and religious by choice, and a scholastic doctor of theology by training, Luther became the founder of a protest movement whose effects remain with us down to the present day.  This course introduces the life and work of this important man, from his childhood and education, to his career as an Augustinian friar and young university professor, his emergence as a church reformer and eventual excommunication, his life as a husband and father, and, finally, his work as a preacher and professor of Bible.

Students will become familiar with the central themes and problems in Luther’s life and thought through the reading of two biographies, numerous of Luther’s own writings, selected scholarly essays, and regular classroom lectures.

We will also examine enduring images of Luther inside and outside Protestantism, particularly that of Roman Catholic Luther scholarship.  Students will be challenged to take stock of Luther’s significance for contemporary theology.

Approximately one-half of class time will be devoted to lecture, the other half to a guided discussion of assigned texts. 

Students are expected to adopt and practice the disciplines appropriate to serious intellectual inquiry: regular attendance in class, timely completion of reading assignments, rereading when necessary for comprehension, thoughtful participation in classroom discussion, and so on.

This course will enable the student to:
1) understand the importance of the late medieval context, historically and theologically, for Luther’s emergence as a Reformer.
2) understand the general course of Luther’s life and career.
3) understand the major themes in Luther’s theology.
4) gain skill in the reading of historical sources.
5) appreciate Luther’s continuing significance for catholic Christianity.

Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
Timothy Lull, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings (2nd edition, w/cd-rom)
Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God & the Devil
David Steinmetz, Luther in Context

As a general rule, reading assignments should be completed before class on Thursday of the week in which they are assigned.  Read the selections from Lull in the order indicated below.  Our normal practice will be to discuss readings, both primary and secondary, on Thursdays.

    Jan 17, 19    Vita Lutheri: An Overview of Luther’s Life & Times
        In-Class Film
        Bainton, Here I Stand, ch. 1-7

    Jan 24, 26    Theologiae Gratiae: Christianity in the West in the Later Middle Ages
        Bainton, Here I Stand, ch. 8-15
        Lull, Luther’s Basic Writings, I.1, II.5

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Random: More Original Art Prices

Ooo! For only 1/10th of the $25,000 that I mentioned on Dec. 17th that Alex Ross wanted for his painting for the cover of Countdown to Infinite Crisis, I can get that phenomenal two-page splash by Phil Jimenez of the battle above Themyscira from Infinite Crisis #2 that I loved. I can't buy an original Michelangelo, obviously, but this is pretty damned good, if you ask me, and seems more of an opportunity since I still have failed to buy a page of original George Pérez art at this point, too. So. Only $2500! For the pencilings, not the finished product! (The original art isn't what is coloured and so forth.) So, I guess I could spend my student loan on that. I wonder what that would inspire Mom to say....