Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholic Scholar Lectures On Historic Reformation Text

Published October 11, 2012

The Twenty-Fifth Reformation Day Celebration at Emory University, sponsored by the Pitts Theology Library of Candler School of Theology, will take place Thursday, Oct. 25, beginning with registration at 9 a.m. in Cannon Chapel on the Emory campus. The event includes exhibits of Reformation-era books, ecumenical worship, music, and three major lectures on ecumenical issues.

This year’s program has a major Catholic focus and will be of special interest to Roman Catholics. The 3:30 p.m. lecture by Dr. Dewey Weiss Kramer looks at the written interaction between Martin Luther and Brother Johann Tetzel, the Dominican preacher who first caused Luther to speak out publicly against indulgences. Her talk, “The Man Who Loosed Luther’s German Tongue: New Approaches to Johann Tetzel,” is based on her new translation of the primary printed debate between Tetzel and Luther in early 1518, which allows the Dominican’s own voice to be heard for the first time.

In this presentation, Kramer examines Tetzel’s rebuttal to Luther’s “Sermon on Indulgences and Grace” in order to illuminate several aspects of the conflict between Luther and Tetzel—including the conflict between the Dominicans and Augustinians and between the universities and their methods of theological research. It also addresses the greater complexity of early Catholic reaction to both Luther and Tetzel than is commonly assumed. Through his written challenge to Luther, Tetzel becomes the catalyst for the reformer to examine more quickly and intensely the key concerns that would bring about his break with the Catholic Church, and to discover the reforming power of his native German. Expanding on the reassessment of Tetzel suggested by this work, Kramer will offer an overview of the steps taken during the twentieth century toward increased understanding between the Catholic and Lutheran communions. This movement derived importantly from both Catholic and Lutheran scholarship and illustrates the importance of returning to original sources and has implications for today’s ongoing ecumenical relations.

Professor Kramer’s English translation of the pamphlet will be available at the lecture. She is professor emerita of German and humanities at DeKalb College and a member of the Emory Catholic community.

Additional lectures are by Bishop Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Lutheran pastor Jan Rippentrop. J. Neil Alexander, the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, will preach at the Chapel Service.

This is the silver anniversary of the Pitts Library Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, which holds the largest collections of Roman Catholic and Lutheran Reformation materials in the Southeast.