Fall Kessler Conversations to Unpack 500 Years of Luther’s New Testament

August 30, 2022

As the new semester begins, Candler’s Pitts Theology Library continues its Kessler Conversations program, which offers online interviews with leading church historians and theologians addressing the relevance of the Protestant Reformation for contemporary communities.

Named after the library’s world-renowned Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, the conversations focus each semester on a single contemporary theme and trace it back to the Reformers. For fall 2022, three distinguished speakers will address “Martin Luther’s Bible: Conversations on the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s September Testament.”

Each conversation will take place via webinar at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time and run for 30 to 45 minutes. The conversations are free and open to the public with advance registration required. An archive will be available here.

September 7: “The Distinctiveness of the Luther New Testament of 1522”
Speaker: Euan Cameron, Henry Luce III Professor of Reformation Church History at Union Theological Seminary, New York

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This conversation will consider the September Testament’s presentation and paratextual material, Luther’s use of Erasmus’s Greek and Latin New Testament of 1519, and Luther’s resemblances to and divergence from previous translations into German. Cameron will discuss the way that Luther continued to revise and edit his translation of the New Testament from 1522 until the end of his life in 1546.

October 5: “Martin Luther as a Reader of Scripture and Insights for Today”
Speaker: G. Sujin Pak, Dean and Professor of the History of Christianity at Boston University School of Theology

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Pak will invite us to consider Martin Luther as a reader of Scripture, focusing on his sense of the power of the Gospel and his invitation for all to read Scripture and have Scripture as a guide to life, and highlight some of Luther’s key exegetical principles. She will draw upon her work on prophecy and the prophetic literature to explore some of the key theological themes Luther saw as central in Scripture. She will also consider more contemporary questions, such as how Luther’s biblical emphases and exegetical principles were received in his own day and later and how might they continue to resonate today.

November 2: “Let Anyone who would hear God Speak Read Holy Scripture: Luther’s Translation After 500 Years”
Speaker: Armin Siedlecki, Head of Cataloging and Rare Book Cataloger, Pitts Theology Library

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In this conversation, Siedlecki will talk about curating the Pitts Fall exhibition, “So That It Pierces and Rings Through the Heart: Martin Luther’s September Testament and 500 Years of Vernacular Scripture.” He will help us understand how certain pieces were chosen to illustrate the context in which the September Testament was produced and the challenges it posed to the late medieval understanding of Scripture, while other items were intended to demonstrate the impact Luther’s translation had on how the Bible was read and interpreted.