Luther: the Theologian, the Linguist and the Man

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a German monk, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

That document had far reaching effects.

The Christian Church was split, and rulers sided either with the Pope and the long established Catholic Church or with Luther and his growing number of reformers.

That period is known as the Reformation, and while it had some terrible effects, including the 30 Years’ War, which devastated the German speaking lands, and the Spanish Inquisition, it resulted for both Catholics and Protestants in a Christian faith which more closely reflected the teachings of Jesus.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s courageous act of rebellion the Barossa German Language Association is conducting a free seminar in the Wine Centre of Faith Lutheran College on Sunday, August 20, starting at 2pm.

The seminar will include three addresses by distinguished speakers, musical items and singing, and will conclude with light refreshments and a glass or two of wine.

The aim of the event is to recognise Luther’s contribution not only to religion, but also to other aspects of life.

He believed people should not be kept in ignorance, and the main reason he translated the Bible into German was for people to hear the word of God in a language they could understand.

While previously the Bible was read in church, it was read in Latin which only the educated could comprehend.

Dr John Kleinig will speak on the influence of Luther’s translations on the development of a standard German language and how the rhythm of his prose has affected German speech.

Luther loved music and wrote some of the best known hymns.

Who does not know Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is Our God)?

Dr Malcolm Bartsch will take Luther’s dedication to education and music as his topic.

So often, when a person achieves great things, it is easy to forget that person’s humanity.

For many years Luther was a pastor to his congregation in Wittenberg, and he was a devoted husband and father.

It is that human aspect which will be the subject of Dr Maurice Schild’s presentation.

In this anniversary year Martin Luther will be remembered in the Barossa Valley, the region which was founded by Lutheran immigrants and fellow revolutionaries, who settled over 170 years ago.