Luther Studies in a Catholic Context

Program Description

Why Study Luther in Catholic Context? and Why at Marquette?

Since the 1960s, scholars at Marquette have been seeking to understand Martin Luther within his later medieval, catholic context. This work has the potential not only to set the historical record straight but also to advance mutual ecumenical understanding between the churches of the Reformation, and the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Attention to the catholic context of the historical Luther provides a springboard for new insights that can help foster unity between these separated ecclesial communities. The better we understand the theological arguments that so powerfully moved people like Luther, the more effectively we will be able to recognize their potential as a source for contemporary theology.

Program History In the 1970s, having finished his Ph.D. work at Harvard University under Heiko Oberman, Dr. Kenneth Hagen brought this energetic new tradition of Luther research to Marquette, which itself soon became the leading American Catholic institution in the fields of Luther and Reformation research. Over the course of his 35 years at Marquette, Dr. Hagen signed more than 30 Ph.D. dissertations. His one-time collaborator, Oliver K. Olson also contributed to this work. In the early 2000s, the noted German Luther scholar Markus Wriedt also taught Reformation theology here. Ph.D. program alums include many well-known scholars, notably the tireless Franz Posset, who has been a pioneer in ferreting out the roots of Luther’s doctrine in the theology of Bernard of Clairvaux. Many others remain active scholars in Reformation theology today, and not a few are now teaching in prestigious American colleges, universities and seminaries.

Luther Studies at Marquette Today Today this program of research is promoted by Dr. Mickey Mattox, who succeeded Hagen not only in terms of his official responsibilities at Marquette, but also, and more importantly, in a shared conviction that research on “the catholic Luther” remains vitally important. Students of early modern theology will find Marquette a supportive environment for historical theology in general, and for Luther Studies in particular. Marquette’s outstanding reputation as a national research university makes it a superb place to prepare for a teaching career in a religiously affiliated college or seminary, or in a secular institution. With excellent connections to all the best research institutes and specialized libraries in Europe, Marquette remains a fine place to study Martin Luther and Reformation theology today.

The Marquette Ecumenical Martin Luther Working Group

Dr. Mattox is the founder and co-convener, with Dr. Jonathan Mumme (Concordia University Wisconsin), of the Marquette Ecumenical Martin Luther Working Group. This Group sponsors regular regional gatherings of scholars working on Martin Luther, for the purpose of encouraging and assisting with their research, and for keeping up with new work on Luther. Participants present their own new research, and the group discusses recent publications. Regular participants in the Group include:

Dr. Philip Anderas, City Reformed Church (Milwaukee)
Mr. Eric Demeuse, The Chesterton Academy (Milwaukee)
Dr. Chris Ganski, City Reformed Church (Milwaukee)
Dr. Brian German, Concordia University Wisconsin
Rev. Brandon Koble, Trinity Lutheran Church (Milwaukee)
Dr. Jason Lane, Concordia University Wisconsin
Dr. David Luy, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Dr. Timothy Maschke, Concordia University Wisconsin
Rev. Aaron Moldenhauer, Concordia University Wisconsin
Dr. Franz Posset, Retired
Dr. Douglas Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Visit the Graduate Bulletin to view descriptions for these and all other Department of Theology graduate courses listed.

Recent and Upcoming Guest Lectures

"Dead Faith or Doers of the Word? The Voice of Luther's James in Early Lutheran Tradition"
Dr. Jason D. Lane, Assistant Professor of Theology
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon)
February, 2016
"Luther in 1518: From Mysticism to Ecclesiology"
Prof. Dr. Sven Grosse, Professor for Historical and Systematic Theology Staatsunabhangige Theologische Hochschule, Basel, Switzerland
September, 2013
"Old Europe's Era of Reformations. Why study Reformation History in an age of secular globalization and religious fragmentation?"
Dr. Dr. habil. Markus Wriedt, Regular Visiting Professor
Department of Theology at Marquette University
April, 2011 
“In Search of the Historical Luther—by a Catholic"
Dr. Franz Posset, PhD Marquette University (1984)
March, 2010
"Scriptores Puriores: Melanchthon's Appeals to the Cappadocian Fathers"
Dr. Ashley Hall, Assistant Professor
Creighton University, Omaha, ME
October, 2009

Past Lectures
Prof. Dr. Hermann Selderhuis

Apeldoorn Theological University
Dr. Eric Gritsch
Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary
Prof. Dr. Otto Hermann Pesch
Hamburg University
Dr. Pekka Kärkkäinen
University of Helsinki

For more information, contact