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500 Years On: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation - Special Collections Exhibition

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a friar and Professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg, Germany. While undertaking scriptural studies, Luther arrived at an essential tenet: the Bible alone was the source to salvation and true Christianity. Luther rejected the authority of the Pope, and thought that people should go to the church and pray, directly to God or Christ, and not to anyone who claimed special powers or holiness. On 31st October 1517, All Saints’ Day eve, an occasion that attracted many pilgrims to the city, Luther is said to have nailed 95 theses to the church door. These disputations, in Latin, were a provocative attack on indulgences, which he saw as a money-making scheme by the Church. Initially posted to generate scholarly debate, the theses marked a beginning on the Reformation timeline. Importantly, it was not only the theses that sparked the revolution; the time was ripe for action.

This exhibition, 500 Years On: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, is a celebratory one that not only acknowledges Luther’s provocative action back in October 1517, but also the result, the spread of Reform that followed across Europe. The major players in this drama included Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox, and Henry VIII, who was instrumental in starting the English Reformation. There was also the inevitable back-lash, those involved in the ‘Catholic’ Counter Reformation. On-going Catholic and Protestant differences resulted in the wholesale persecution of various sects, the English Civil War, and internal religious and social strife throughout many European countries.

Luther Exhibition Image

The exhibition presents an overview of what was a massive revolution that occurred in Europe, and Luther’s legacy continues to impact on the world today. The books on display are from Special Collections, University of Otago, the Hewitson Library, Knox College, and a private collection. Notable items include Hartmann Schedel’s famed Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493; a late 15th century medieval Book of Hours; a sheet of the German Bible, printed in 1483, an early guidebook to Rome (1515), and most notably, a rare Latin Bible (1481) that contains fragments of indulgences printed by William Caxton. Luther’s own work features, including his Deuteronomy (1525), his Works (1550), and a facsimile of his Bible, Die Propheten Alle Deutsch [1534]. Works by Johannes Cochlaeus, Erasmus, and Philip Melancthon, Luther’s friend and colleague, also feature. Also on display are colourful facsimile leaflets (flugblatt) from the period. They include Erhard Schön’s ‘Der Teufel mit der Sackpfeife’ [The Devil playing the Bagpipe], 1535, as pictured.

Date Friday, 24 March 2017 - Friday, 9 June 2017
Time All Day Event
Audience Public
Event Category Exhibitions
Event Type Exhibition
Locationde Beer Gallery, Special Collections, 1st Floor, University of Otago Library, Information Services Building, Albany Street, Dunedin
Contact NameDonald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian
Contact Phone64 3 479 8330

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