Browse Exhibits (2 total)
Originally exhibited May 24–July 31, 2013
This exhibition comprises a selection of highlights from Bridwell Library Special Collections. Representing various strengths of the library’s rare book collections, the materials document the role of books in religious practice in selected eras and locales. These materials reflect the uncommonly strong foundation for teaching and advanced research that Bridwell Library provides for students and faculty of Perkins School of Theology and Southern Methodist University as well as the broader community.
Bridwell Library’s collection of early Reformation era pamphlets, sermons, broadsides, catechisms, commentaries, and vernacular Bible translations is highlighted by the major works of Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Jean Calvin, numerous other sixteenth-century reformers, and Counter-Reformation authors. The exhibited items include several works of extreme rarity: while two are the only copies preserved in the United States, two others are the only recorded copies.
Originally exhibited August 7– December 15, 2017
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries
Commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the announcement by Martin Luther (1483–1546) of his Ninety-five Theses against indulgences, and the beginning of the Reformation, this exhibition serves as an introduction to the reformer and his printed works. After attending university in Erfurt, Germany, Luther eventually focused on theological study, entered the Augustinian order in 1505, and was ordained two years later. In October 1512 he received his doctorate in theology and joined the theology faculty at the University of Wittenberg, a position he would retain throughout his career. The dissemination of his critique regarding indulgences began an extraordinary publishing career that reflected his multiple roles as a theologian, preacher, teacher, and translator. The various genres represented in this exhibition include polemics and treatises, sermons and commentaries, Bible translations, and catechisms.
In addition to his immense impact on Western Christianity in the early modern period, Luther also greatly influenced the world of print in sixteenth-century Europe. A remarkably prolific author, he published more than twenty-five hundred editions of his German works, not including the various editions of his German Bible. Often first appearing in Wittenberg, his books were frequently reprinted in Leipzig, Erfurt, Augsburg, Nuremberg, and Strasbourg. These established printing centers provided additional distribution of his works while Latin translations further increased his readership.
Exploring different printed contexts for Luther’s works, this exhibition includes Bibles and indulgences produced prior to Luther’s own publications as well as pre-seventeenth century Catholic responses to Luther and the early Reformation during his lifetime and after his death. This combination of Luther’s publications and those of his adversaries provides insight into the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation and the divisiveness engendered by this quest for religious reform as witnessed in the age of print.