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The Good Shepherd Sends Shepherds: Pastoral Formation Through the Ages

Dr. Timothy R. Schmeling

2021 Synod Convention Essay

In a 1523 letter to the Renaissance Humanist, Eobanus Hessus (1488–1540), Martin Luther (1483–1546) stressed how vital the liberal arts, more specifically the humanities, are to a Lutheran education and for maintaining the Gospel.

I myself am convinced that without the knowledge of the [Humanistic] studies, pure theology can by no means exist, as has been the case until now; when the [Humanistic] studies were miserably ruined and prostrate [theology] declined and lay neglected. I realize that there has never been a great revelation of God’s Word unless God has first prepared the way by the rising and flourishing of languages and learning, as though these were forerunners, a sort of [John] the Baptist.1

This essay provides a cursory overview of pastoral education in broad strokes.

Education in Ancient Israel

Education in general is a fundamental Old Testament concern, but the Sacred Scriptures do not provide a complete picture of how it was carried out. The dominant Ancient Near Eastern cultures give a fuller picture, but not even these cultures produced an extant treatise on educational theory. Biblical scholars have drawn on reconstructions of non-Israelite education to round out what the Old Testament says about Israelite education.2 Given the theological and infrastructural differences, Biblical scholars remain cautious about what can and should be inferred from such sources.

Both Israelite parents were chiefly responsible for their children’s education (Prov 1:8; 6:20; 23:22). This included more than discipline (Deut 21:18–21; Prov 13:24; 29:15) and teaching their five to seven year olds their professions (2 Kgs 4:18; Prov 31:10–31). Parents were to nurture in their children fear, love, and trust in God above all other things. They were to pass down the Messianic promise (Gen 3:15; 12:1–3; 15:1–21; 17:1–27; 26:1–5; 35:1–15; 49:8–12). Parents were to recount to them the LORD’s saving acts during the Exodus (Exod 10:2; 13:8; Deut 4:9; 32:7). Fathers were to explain the Old Testament sacraments and rituals (Exod 12:26). Parents were to teach them the commandments—statutes and rules—of the LORD as Moses declared in his final sermons (Deut 6:1–12).3 Sabbath would especially be set aside for this (Exod 20:10; 31:15–17; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:14). Parental religious education was supplemented by the Levities stationed in cities throughout the land (Num 35:1–8), the celebration of the annual pilgrimage feasts (i.e., Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) (Deut 16:16), and the public reading of the Old Testament Torah/Law every seven years at Tabernacles (Deut 31:9–13).

The goal of all Israelite religious instruction was more than just godly “knowledge” (דַּעַת), it was about “understanding” (בִּינָה), and “wisdom” (חָכְמָה) (Ps 111:10; 119:104, 130; Prov 1:2, 7; 9:10). Coupled with fear, love, and trust, the LORD also recreates in believers the capability to make law and gospel prudential judgements within the framework of one’s vocations (i.e., callings in life). The core objective of lay and clerical education then is the cultivation of this capability, fear, love, and trust through prayer, meditation, and the cross/trial (Ps 119:15, 26, 84). Therefore, religious education (from the Latin, “to draw out”) is really about the religious formation of the entire recreated human person so that they might become a unique “confessor” (מוֹדֶ֖ה) of the faith in word and deed (Exod 19:5–6; 1 Chr 29:13; Ps 18:49; Prov 28:13).

Eventually, certain Israelite craftsmen were trained as apprentices in guilds (Neh 3:8; 11–32; 1 Chr 4:14, 12–23). Military training transitioned from the father (or tribe) to military officers (2 Kgs 25:19; 1 Chr 27:16–22; 2 Chr 17:13–18; 26:11–15). Scribes, officials, and royals were probably trained in royal scribal schools that may have emerged with King Solomon (r. 971–931 BC) (1 Kgs 12:8, 10; 2 Kgs 10:1, 5–6; 12:2). Clay tablets of student exercises dating at least as far back as the monarchy support such schooling. The twenty-two letter Hebrew Alphabet made reading and writing much easier than in cultures that used syllabic and ideographic scripts. Education progressed from specialized vocabularies, to grammatical paradigms, then to sentences, etc. Memorization remained essential to Israelite education (Deut 6:6–7). Mnemonic devises helped students internalize their lessons (e.g., acrostic psalms [Ps 119], poetic parallelism [Ps 1], etc.). Like the catechism’s table of duties, the Old Testament provided a framework for living out certain vocations in the fear of the LORD. For instance, Deuteronomy 17:14–20 admonishes kings to have a personal Torah/Law scroll for his own daily mediation and provides the theological ethics of godly kingship. By the reign of King Jehoshaphat of Judah (r. 870–848 BC), officials, priests, and Levities were sent with the Book of the Law to teach in the cities and among the people according to 2 Chronicles 17:7–9.4

Before the Exodus (1446 BC), the patriarchs served as the prophets, priests, and kings of God’s people (Gen 4:4; 8:20; 22:13; 20:7). After the Exodus, the Israelite public ministry was conducted by the Levitical high priest, Levitical priests, non-priestly Levites, prophets, and the scribes. The high priest (Num 35:25) performed the Day of Atonement sacrifice (Lev 16:1–34) and received oracles via the Urim and Thummin (Num 27:21; Deut 33:8). The Levitical priests (Exod 29:9) made other sacrifices (Lev 1:1–7:38), presided over liturgical life (Lev 23:1–24:9), taught the Scriptures (Lev 10:11; 14:57; Deut 33:9–13), blessed (Lev 9:22; Num 6:22–26; Deut 10:8), demarcated the holy from the profane (Lev 10:8–10; 11:47; 20:24–26) (as well as the clean from the unclean [Lev 13:1–15:33]), collected tithes (Exod 30:11–16; Lev 27:1–33; Num 18:8–32; Deut 14:22–29; 18:1–8; 26:1–15), and functioned as judges in difficult cases (Deut 17:8–13; 19:16–17; 21:1–5). The rest of the Levities assisted them by guarding the tabernacle/temple, transporting or caring for its furnishings, and served as temple musicians (Num 3:5–10; 4:1–49; 18:1–32; 1 Chr 15:16–22). Central to their education was the Mosaic Torah/Law (תּוֹרָה) and the Davidic Psalter. They were likely trained in Levitical schools (2 Kgs 22:8). Some prophets (e.g., Elijah) simply proclaimed their inspired oracles (1 Kgs 17:1; 18:22). Others only preached and expounded God’s prophetic Word to the people. Still others God inspired (e.g., Isaiah) to write the Old Testament Prophets (נְבִיאִים), which unpacked the Torah/Law’s meaning, called for repentance, and expanded on the Messiah’s salvific work. In addition to the Torah/Law, the Prophetic Literature was especially important in their education. Whereas some prophets were trained in prophetic guilds (2 Kgs 2:7; 5:22; 6:1–2) or Levitical schools (e.g., Ezekiel), others like the shepherd, Amos, received no prophetic education. The scribes (2 Sam 20:25; 2 Kgs 12:10; Ezr 7:6, 11–12) did not just catalogue and produce non-Scriptural civil texts (e.g., contract or census), they also preserved and interpreted Israel’s Scriptural texts (particularly legal texts). Besides the Torah/Law, the Old Testament books categorized as Historical Books and Wisdom/Poetic Books by the Greek translation of the Old Testament (i.e., Septuagint) had a certain pride of place among them. This Wisdom Literature recognized other culture’s wisdom traditions could promote a sort of wisdom and civil righteousness stemming from natural law (Gen 4:6–7), but Old Testament Wisdom Literature maintained true wisdom and good works flowed from grace alone.

Greco-Roman Education and Hebrew Education

After the Babylonian Exile, Jews entered the second temple period (515 BC–70 AD). Synagogues now became a force for religious education. With Alexander the Great’s (356–323 BC) conquests, Jews experienced Hellenization (i.e., the propagation of Greek culture), which was chiefly accomplished via Greco-Roman or classical education. Its goal, which Greeks called “paideia” (παιδεία) (literally, “child-upbringing”) and the Romans called humanitas (from which the English term “humanities” is derived), was more than mere “knowledge” (ἐπιστήμη) or even “speculative wisdom” (σοφία). It was the full cultural development of the human person and “phronesis” (φρόνησις); that is, “practical wisdom” or “prudence.” All of this was so that one could become a well-rounded, virtuous, and beneficial citizen of a city or state.5 Such education was accomplished through the study of classical Greek authors (Homer above all else but also Hesiod, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander, Demosthenes), the liberal arts (artes liberales), and athletic competition. The Greek philosopher Aristotle’s (ca. 384–322 BC) ideas about habit formation, virtue as the mean between vices, and friendships only further enhanced classical education. When the Romans assumed this education, Latin writers were added to the canonical authors (Virgil, then Terence, Cicero, and Horace). Athletics and music seem to have been played down a bit. Still, the Latin satirist Juvenal (ca. 55/60–130 AD) stressed praying for a “sound mind in a sound body (mens sana in corpore sano).”6 This broad interdisciplinary humanism was intended to combat reductionistic thinking, the immoral use of knowledge or skills (e.g., sophistry), and the lack of adaptability it associated with mere “professional skills” (τέχνη).

When the Carthaginian lawyer Martianus Capella (fl. fifth century AD) defined the seven liberal arts as grammar, dialectic (logic), rhetoric (speech), math, geometry, music, and astronomy in his On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury, the liberal arts’ number and contents remained fixed for centuries to come. The first three humanities would be called the trivium. After the Roman consul Boethius (ca. 480–524 AD), the last four math/science disciplines were called the quadrivium. Despite the Greek philosopher Plato’s (ca. 434–348 BC) desire to make the theoretical (i.e., speculative) math/science disciplines the inner core of Greek education, the Greek rhetorician Isocrates (ca. 436–338 BC) was successful in keeping the practical (i.e., moral- and social-oriented) humanities the inner core. Nevertheless, a healthy tension between the humanities and math/science would remain a hallmark of Western Civilization. When the math/science disciplines ignore the humanities, at best they focus on mere technological development that can make life less human in the quest to make it easier. At worst, they become a dehumanizing reductionistic scientism (i.e., positivism) that continually pushes the limits of math/science regardless of the moral implications (e.g., Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). When the humanities ignore math/science, at best they become a false conservatism. At worst, they become a relativistic evolutionary historicism bent on social construction (e.g., LGBTQ community). While the Roman rhetorician Cicero (ca. 106–43) best represented the fusion of the rhetorician and philosopher, the most comprehensive guide to classical education was the Roman rhetorician Quintilian’s (ca. 35/40–96 AD) Institutes of Oratory.

The liberal arts were intended to free human beings from mere animalism through culture. But they were also for free men. Thus, the liberal arts were not originally the education of the masses or slaves. Eventually, primary education (sport, reading, and writing) became more widespread for boys and some girls. Even slaves were taught to read and write if necessary for their tasks. Secondary education focused on the classical authors, liberal arts, and sport. Students looking for higher education sought out the rhetoricians, philosophers (be it the Platonists, Aristotelians, Stoics, or Epicureans), medical doctors, or later lawyers in the Roman Empire. Of these, rhetorical education was most favored because Greco-Roman society wanted to be democratic or republican. In higher education, a student community gathered around a sage who midwifed wisdom in them through dialogue.7

In response to Hellenization and Greco-Roman education, some Jews (e.g., Hellenizing Jews) forsook their faith. Others (e.g., Maccabees) resisted it altogether (1 Macc 1:10–3:9; 2 Macc 4:7–8:7). In time, even those offering Hebrew secondary education, which centered on the Hebrew Bible, adopted elements of classical education. This is not surprising given that Israelite education also focused on humanization and practical wisdom via classical authors and the humanities’ interpretative techniques. But since the Jews also knew this could not be cultivated in a disordered human nature by paideia alone, they focused on the inspired authors of the Hebrew Bible who alone offered the grace for humanization and practical wisdom. In contrast to Greco-Roman elitism, the Jews further believed manual labor was not below the dignity of a scholar, a notion the Benedictines would later stress in Christendom with their motto: prayer and work (ora et labora) (Acts 18:3; 1 Cor 4:12).8

Given the late explicit evidence of Hebrew secondary schools and compulsory Hebrew primary education, scholars think both rose in the wake of Hellenization. The scribe Ben Sira (fl. 200–175 BC) is the first to speak of a “house of instruction” (οἴκῳ παιδείας) for scribes, albeit this reference is contested (Sir 51:23). The famous Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder (fl. first century AD) ran his own school of higher education (Acts 5:34; 22:3). The High Priest Joshua ben Gamla (r. ca. 63–65 AD) ordered six to seven year old children be instructed by school teachers assigned to every province and town, though it appears primary schools already existed.9 Jewish primary education focused on reading, writing, reciting, and translating the Hebrew Bible and liturgical texts. Secondary education focused on the Jewish Oral Torah (i.e., Jewish tradition not found in the Hebrew Bible but deemed authoritative for the Jewish community [Gal 1:14]). Jewish Oral Torah assumed two forms: commentary on Scripture (i.e., Midrash) or topically-arranged discussions of religious questions (i.e., Mishnah and later the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds). Jewish advanced education focused on Scripture study and Jewish law. Students then became disciples of sage teachers.10 St. Paul represents someone who had both a Greek and Hebrew education. His approach to Scripture shows Greek exegetical approaches and early Rabbinic approaches as well. Moreover, he studied under the aforementioned Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).11

Education in the New Testament and Early Christianity

In the New Testament, Christ assumed the role of prophet, priest, and king. However, he reinstituted temporal government (Matt 22:21; Rom 13:1–7) and the public ministry. The latter he did via the apostolate from which all grades of the ministry flow (Matt 10:1–16; Luke 10:1–11; John 20:21–23; Rom 10:14–15; 1 Cor 4:1; Eph 4:11–12). Apostolic education consisted of three years of communal life with Christ and Old Testament instruction, a model still influencing seminary education (Luke 3:1, 23; John 2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; Acts 1:21–26; Gal 1:11–20). The apostles apprenticed their successors (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and they in turn their successors. Through the Old Testament, the Epistles, and later the Gospels, the apostles taught how the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and how the latter is revealed in the former (John 5:39).12 The Gospels became a renewed Torah/Law for the Christians. Some Gospels may have served as catechisms too (e.g., Matthew and Luke). The doctrine and theological ethics concretized in the Gospel narratives are fleshed out in the Epistles’ more propositional form. The Pastoral Epistles and the Letters to the Corinthians provided the pastoral theology of the new clergy. The New Testament moreover reaffirmed the notion that theology is a God-given practical wisdom (2 Cor 3:5–6; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6; 3:15–16). This divinely-instituted ministry initially took the forms of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (i.e., bishops [overseers]/presbyters [elders]), and teachers (Act 13:1; 1 Cor 15:28; Eph 4:11–12; 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–16). The apostles soon added deacons (Act 6:1–7; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 8–13). Some of these grades like the apostles were immediate calls and eventually ceased in the life of the church. Since they were directly called by Christ, their calls were not limited to the local church. Other grades were mediate calls; that is, they were called by Christ through the local church.

By the time of Ignatius of Antioch (d. ca. 110), the presbyters (later shortened to priests) raised one of their own over themselves, designating him alone as bishop for good order (1 Cor 14:40).13 These bishops reserved certain pastoral functions for themselves, such as oversight, preaching, confirmation, and ordination. For example, the rhetorician and Latin theologian, Augustine of Hippo (354–430), was unique because he was permitted to preach as a priest at this time. As Christianity spread beyond imperial cities to form parishes, priests (who conducted liturgies, performed sacraments, and did pastoral care) would now resume preaching duties (1 Tim 5:17) as well as confirmation in the East. Teachers initially functioned as catechists, who instructed new converts in the faith, but later some, like Origen (ca. 185–254), became the higher education teachers of the clergy. Deacons originally cared for the Christian community’s social needs, but soon they assumed a liturgical function, assisting with some sacraments, offering certain prayers, and performing Scripture readings. Other grades of the ministry were added as well.

The Latin theologian Tertullian of Carthage (fl. turn of the third century) raised objections to Christians receiving a Greco-Roman education because of the pagan ideas accompanying it. In response to Tertullian’s objection, “What indeed has Athens have to do with Jerusalem,” Augustine’s approach represented the norm, “Spoil the Egyptians.”14 In other words, a Greco-Roman education (esp., the humanities) was so helpful in proclaiming the religion of the book that it was retained. Even St. Paul referenced classical (literary and philosophical) authors and athletic training (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor 9:23–27; 15:33; Tit 1:12). Still, whatever presuppositions, subjects, and methods of a Greco-Roman education conflicted with Christianity, these were to be scrutinized as Basil the Great (ca. 330–79) did in his On the Reading of Profane Authors (Col 2:8; 1 Thes 5:21). Therefore, Christians became some of the most influential teachers of grammar, rhetoric, classics, and philosophy in the ancient world. Not unlike the Old Testament faithful, Christian parents remained primarily responsible for their children’s religious education (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21). Christians who were able continued to receive a classical education at Greco-Roman schools alongside pagans. This remained normative in the Eastern Roman Empire until Constantinople fell (1453). Those that converted later in life went through an additional three year period of catechetical instruction. Some of the most famous catechism lectures are those of Cyril of Jerusalem (ca. 315–87) and Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428).

Those entering into the public ministry received their formation in apprenticeships to their bishops and in dialogue with proven theologians. As heretics argued for strange and new teachings, orthodox (i.e., true teaching) clergy stressed the unbroken line of their pastoral mentors and their theology back to the apostles and their teaching.15 By the second century, the Apologist Justin Martyr (d. ca. 167) offered theological lectures analogous to those of the Greek philosophers. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150–215) and Hippolytus of Rome (ca. 170–235) offered something similar in the third century. Nevertheless, it was not until Origen added lectures on Scripture and theology to the Alexandrian catechetical school that an official school of Christian higher education come into existence. However, Origen’s school neither lasted nor became immediately normative. In short, the Early Church Fathers generally had an extensive Greco-Roman education that facilitated their theological study but less formal Christian higher education in the modern sense.16

Nevertheless, the Early Church produced writings in all of what would be become the four disciplines of theology to facilitate pastoral education. Theology finds its foundation in exegetical (Biblical) theology. The distillation of theology’s past applications to souls (cura animarum) is made available in historical theology. Systematic (doctrinal) theology builds on these first two disciplines as well as the questions of today to prudently apply theology to the present. All of this reaches its crescendo in practical theology where a curate of souls (Seelsorger) carefully applies theology to the concrete needs of the people entrusted to his care. While the Church Fathers contributed most in exegetical and practical theology (for Scripture study, pastoral care, and preaching were primary), they also initiated the beginnings of historical and systematic theology.17 Here Origen led the way, but the three Cappadocian theologians (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus [ca. 330–90], and Gregory of Nyssa [ca. 335/40–95]) and Augustine would become the preeminent orthodox teachers of the Eastern Church and Western Church respectively.

Western Middle Ages and Education

Monasticism had arisen before Anthony the Great (ca. 251–335) as a quest for a deeper spiritual path and a protest against nominal Christians who found it expedient to enter the church when Emperor Constantine I (ca. 271/73–337) legalized Christianity (313). But monasticism’s stress on lectio divina (i.e., reading the Scriptures, then meditating upon their meaning, next praying for their promises’ realization, and finally using the Scriptures to effect contemplation), the communal chanting of the Scriptures (esp., the Psalter) in the Divine Office (i.e., the eight canonical prayer hours), and the acceptance of child oblates required monks be given Christian education. When the Germanic tribes took over the collapsing Western Roman Empire and its school system came to an end, Celtic and Benedictine monasteries became outposts of learning and culture. Their scriptoriums (i.e., manuscript copy rooms) and libraries preserved more than Biblical and ecclesial texts, they also preserved classical texts and the liberal arts. Cassiodorus’s (ca. 490–585) monastery at Vivarium and his Institutes on Divine and Secular Learning is one of the most significant examples. The study of Scripture so filled these monks with evangelistic zeal that they (e.g., Columba [521–97], Columbanus [ca. 543–615], Boniface [ca. 675–754], Ansgar [ca. 801–65]) were instrumental in the evangelization of the rest of Europe. Alcuin of York (ca. 740–804), who seems to have lived like a Benedictine, helped start the Carolingian Renaissance from the court of the new Western Roman Emperor Charlemagne (742/47–814). As a result, Benedict of Nursia’s (ca. 480–560) Rule of Saint Benedict, a synthesis of the Rule of the Master, John Cassian’s (ca. 360–435) monastic writings (e.g., Institutes and Conferences), and Augustine’s theology, became the official monastic rule of the empire. It was most balanced, fostered an educational revival, and contributed to Europe’s conversion. Monastic theology retained classical education’s humanities orientation and stressed an experiential approach to the theology which it deemed wisdom.18 A grammatical and literary study of the patristic fourfold (i.e., literal, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical) sense of texts for spiritual enrichment was its hallmark. Besides Cassian and Benedict, the two greatest exemplars of Western monastic theology were the Venerable Bede (ca. 673–753), an English church historian and Bible commentator, and Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), a powerful preacher and the greatest monastic proponent of man’s profound need for grace.19

Before the empire’s fall, some bishops surrounded themselves with a community of monks or canons focused on learning and pastoral care. After the fall of classical schools, it became imperative for bishops to train their clergy in episcopal or cathedral schools. The boys trained in these schools served in the cathedral choir (schola), working their way up from lector to deacon and then to priest. It was from monastic and episcopal schools that future bishops were taken. Unfortunately, literacy remained low in the Early Middle Ages (500–1000). Many priests learned through apprenticeships where they memorized the mass rote and gained some measure of pastoral know-how. By the Second Council of Vaison (529), priests were instructed to start presbyterial or parish schools for a more reliable stream of literate ministerial candidates. Early schools were largely limited to forming monks and clergy, but presbyterial schools provided educational opportunities for those not already committed to the clerical life. Some monastic and episcopal schools retained an interest in liberal arts, classical authors, and philosophy. Many others insisted that only reading, writing, and the Bible were suitable for monks and clerics. Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (ca. 1033–1109), the Benedictine father of Scholasticism (i.e., method of the schoolmen), and Anselm of Laon (ca. 1050–1117), the father of the glossed Bible, conversely expanded the educational objectives and the impact of the episcopal schools.20

During the High Middle Ages (1000–1300), a new period of revitalization occurred. Cities began to rise. The crusades fostered culture exchange. A merchant class arose that was distinct from peasants, clergy, and nobility. Gothic culture took new interest in Christ’s humanity, human beings in general, and Scripture’s literal sense. The School of St. Victor revived interest in Hebrew. Mendicant (i.e., begging) religious orders (e.g., Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, and Augustinians) rose up. They sought to actively engage society through preaching and evangelization like the apostles of old. As a result, the Mendicants developed an extensive school system (cloister schools, provincial schools, and studium generale) for training their own and became the leading theologians of the day. The Medieval university now took shape where potential lawyers, physicians, and theologians studied.

At universities a new approach to learning called Scholasticism took root that challenged the monastic approach. Scholasticism focused on the math/science orientation to classical learning and stressed a theoretical (i.e., speculative) approach to theology which it deemed science.21 Logical analysis of texts via questions and disputations (i.e., debates) for the purpose of knowledge was its hallmark. Hence, study shifted from commentary on authoritative texts to the production of systems of thought that integrated authoritative texts in a unified system. Medieval universities consisted of four faculties. Graduation with a master’s degree (i.e., a license to teach at university) from the lower liberal arts (also called philosophy) faculty was the gateway to the three higher faculties of (secular and canon) law, medicine, and theology, the queen of the sciences. Few students graduated with a master of arts degree, let alone a master’s or doctor’s degree in law, medicine, or theology. As more of Aristotle’s writings were recovered from Islam, Aristotle’s writings, particularly his logic, came to dominate Scholastic teaching from the liberal arts faculty on up. While Aristotle could serve as a very useful handmaiden (ancilla) to theology and source of natural philosophy (just as Neoplatonism and Stoicism did before him), all worldviews forget their place when they contradict revelation or foster dangerous speculations. To earn a master of theology degree, one first had to hear lectures and disputations on the Bible as well as conduct lectures and disputations on the Bible. Second, one had to hear lectures and disputations on Peter Lombard’s (ca. 1095/1100–1160) Sentences as well as conduct lectures and disputations on it. The doctor of theology degree eventually became distinct from and higher than the master of theology degree. Different theological schools of thought quickly vied for influence and were divided by their metaphysical (i.e., theory of the underlying structures of reality) views as well as their understanding of epistemology (i.e., theory of knowledge) and language. There were two “old way” (via antiqua) schools. The Franciscan Bonaventure (1221–74) affirmed Augustinian metaphysical idealism. The Dominican Thomas Aquinas (1224/5–74) affirmed Aristotelian metaphysical realism and the analogy of being. There were two “modern way” (via moderna) schools. The Franciscan John Duns Scotus (1265–1308) affirmed another approach to Aristotelian metaphysical realism and the univocity of being. The Franciscan William of Ockham (ca. 1287–1347/8) affirmed metaphysical conceptualism, which is sometimes called nominalism. Since the popes were losing control over the university theological faculties, the Counter-Reformation popes would champion the rise of diocesan seminaries to maintain control of what was taught.22

The Medieval Church made some significant contributions to exegetical theology, but its chief contribution to pastoral education lies in its proto-systematic theology and practical theology.23 Even though a resurgence of learning, preaching, and pastoral care took place, the Gospel was obscured by the incorrect imposition of Aristotelian logical, metaphysical, and ethical categories upon the doctrines of man, sin, and grace. Most learned their theology from translated digests rather than a contextual reading of the primary sources. Books were expensive and precious few libraries could own many. Pastoral education largely degenerated into the formation of an unbiblical priesthood empowered to merit grace via their performance of mass sacrifices rather than of preachers (Predigtamt) who applied God’s Word in oral, written, and sacrament forms. Preaching fell to the Mendicants and later to endowed urban preachers (Prediger). As the church entered the Late Middle Ages (1300–1500), it would be embroiled in papal scandal, war, famine, plague, social unrest, economic turmoil, and spiritual unrest.

Education in the Renaissance, the Lutheran Reformation, and Lutheran Orthodoxy

Renaissance Humanism (not Secular Humanism) was a cultural reform program and educational approach that sought to humanize and cultivate the active life through the study of ancient authors and the five humanities (studia humanitatis): grammar, poetry (not logic), rhetoric, history (previously neglected), and moral philosophy. It began with Francesco Petrarca (1304–74) in Italy but crossed the Alps to impact all of Europe. Thus, it was a critique of Scholasticism’s positivistic scientism, its philologically unsound and ahistorical reduction of everything to logic, its theoretical/speculative approach to theology, and its claim that the active religious (monastic and priestly) life was superior to the active lay life.24 The Humanists revived classical Latin, Greek, and Hebrew as well. The first trilingual Humanist was Johann Reuchlin (1455–1522), the great uncle of Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560), the “teacher of Germany” (Praeceptor Germanicae). This permitted the Humanists to return “to the sources” (ad fontes), challenging interpretations of classical authors, the Church Fathers, and the Bible that were grammatically and historically dubious. For example, Lorenzo Valla (1407–57) showed from the language, style, and historical references of the Donation of Constantine (which granted central Italy to the pope) that it was an eighth century forgery. The invention of moveable type allowed Humanists to work with printers and produce critical editions of ancient texts. Critical editions also allowed scholars to work through the math/science of the classical world to discover what held up and what needed further work. But while the Renaissance Humanists had the foresight not to neglect the wisdom of the past, they sometimes suffered from “the older is always better” syndrome and stifled vernacular learning. The third generation of Humanists defended Martin Luther’s (1483–1546) Reformation because they deemed it part of their project.25

The Lutheran Reformation emerged out of the need for an educated clergy capable of Gospel-oriented preaching and prudential pastoral care in the aftermath of the Late Middle Ages. To facilitate this, Luther and Melanchthon introduced a Renaissance Humanist curriculum reform at Wittenberg University, which gave the Lutherans the ability to read the Biblical and patristic sources in the original languages and counter the unsound teaching that accumulated in the Medieval Church. Coupled with the Gospel, such an education could then truly cultivate pastoral practical wisdom. In other words, Wittenberg returned to a Biblical, classical, and patristic educational model focused on a historical-grammatical explication of Scripture rather than an explication via mere syllogistic logic. Monastic theology, Ockhamist Scholasticism, German mysticism, and a new approach to hermeneutics also played an important role in Luther’s rediscovery of salvation by passive righteousness alone, but finally only a historical-grammatical analysis could properly interpret, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17). Therefore, Lutherans have been voracious defenders of a humanities education for all Christians. How else would both clergy and the laity be able to properly interpret the Bible so as not to fall prey again to papal tyranny or the Radical Reformation mob (John 8:31–32; 1 Pet 3:15)? As the Reformation historian, Bernd Moeller correctly observed, “Without Humanism, no Reformation.”26 Of course, Lutherans still championed math/science education and later social science education. The following are but a few thinkers it produced: Tycho Brahe [1546–1601] was a Danish astronomer whose assistant Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) used his work to develop the three laws of planetary motion. Carl Linnaeus [1707–78] became the Swedish father of modern biological taxonomy. Anders Chydenius [1729–1801], a Finnish pastor and politician, anticipated the Scottish economist Adam Smith’s (1723–90) Wealth of Nations by a decade.

After the Electoral Saxon Visitation (1528–29) revealed just how illiterate the priests and the people had become, Luther provided the Small and Large Catechisms in placard and print form to facilitate their catechization. He advocated for parish schools where both boys and girls could learn reading, Scripture, and doctrine. Those able to assume spiritual and secular leadership roles were sent to Latin schools to prepare them for university via Latin, history, music, math, and the classics.27 Clergy were required to have some university liberal arts (esp., humanities) instruction, Biblical languages study, and theology instruction. In contrast to the Radicals who felt God spoke to them directly, Lutherans continued to stress schooling, including master’s and doctor’s degrees in theology to provide competent Scriptural interpretation and legitimate reformation. In fact, Luther defended his reform’s legitimacy on the basis of his doctorate which bound him by oath to watch over the teaching of the church. At Wittenberg, exegetical theology once again became the center and foundation of pastoral formation.28 The 1592 Wittenberg University statutes still made provision for one professor to teach the Pentateuch and Psalter, another the Prophets, a third the New Testament (esp., Pauline Epistles), and a fourth the chief articles of the faith as explained first by the Formula of Concord and second by Melanchthon’s Romans-based Commonplaces (Loci Communes). Theological commonplaces remained extensive Biblical reading guides rather than systematic theology until Johann Gerhard’s (1582–1637) Theological Commonplaces introduced prolegomena. Wittenberg also established historical professorships at the liberal arts level, but a professorship in historical theology only become normative after the 1650s.29

Following the Formula of Concord, Lutherans called themselves “orthodox” to indicate their catholic and evangelical continuity with the consensus of the Church Fathers and the Scriptural teaching of the Book of Concord. Even Luther did not do theology in a vacuum but ran his ideas through his Wittenberg circle and reputable theologians of the past so as to avoid private interpretations of Scripture (2 Pet 1:20–21). Likewise, Lutheran Confessionalism reasserted that confessing in all its forms (repentance, proclaiming, praising, thanking, fellowshipping, serving, witnessing, etc.) is the Biblical heart of what the church does. Since the Formula was not universally accepted, the Orthodox Lutherans felt tasked to achieve wider and deeper consensus about Scripture’s theology via various theological genres and cultural forms of engagement. In contrast to Scholasticism, theology had a prudential and pious aim for them. As Abraham Calov (1612–86) put it: “Theology is a practical habit of knowing (habitus practicus cognitionis), derived from divine revelation, from true religion. By [this practical habit of knowing], fallen human beings are brought by faith to eternal salvation.” In other words, theology is a God-given prudential habit or ability to apply law and gospel to others so as to create saving faith in them as well as preserve and exercise that faith until the blessed end. Just like faith, this habit or ability that comes with faith also needs to be exercised by praying (oratio) the Holy Spirit reveal the meaning of Scripture, meditating (meditatio) on that Scriptural meaning, and gaining experience applying Scripture to one’s self and others amid the crosses and trials (tentatio) of life as Luther observed in Psalm 119.30 Since doctrine was a singularity and an extension of Christ himself (John 1:14; 5:39), Orthodox Lutherans refuted attacks on any article of the faith as attacks on Christ himself. To facilitate (pastoral and lay) formation, to engage in Lutheran consensus-building, and to counter the pernicious attacks of others (Roman Catholic and Reformed) trying to convert Lutherans, Orthodox Lutherans were pressed to use the full spectrum of tools at their disposal, including various theological disciplines, Renaissance Humanism, religious and secular thinkers of every age, and Neo-Aristotelianism and natural science. But their work was cut out for them because they had to form pastors during the greatest crisis since the Late Middle Ages, which culminated in the most destructive war before the twentieth century; namely, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48). The success of the Reformed, Roman Catholics, Syncretists, and Pietists at marginalizing Orthodox Lutheranism through it all caused some Lutheran pastors to become doctrinaire and combative.

In order to provide practical theological training (i.e., sermonizing, liturgical theology, pastoral care, catechesis, etc.), Lutheran theology students had initially followed up their university study serving as schoolmasters or deacons under experienced pastors before becoming pastors themselves. Lutherans soon recognized the need for post-university schooling in practical theology. The beginnings of the seminary first emerged at the Lutheran Cloister at Loccum in 1677. Even then the first true Protestant post-university seminary was established at the Lutheran Cloister at Riddagshausen in 1690. Students there prayed the canonical hours, did daily exegesis, and practiced their preaching and catechizing.31 Lutheran literary output to supplement pastoral education was massive to say the least,32 but they also made new contributions. Matthias Flacius’s (1520–75) Key to the Sacred Scriptures pioneered modern hermeneutics (i.e., Biblical interpretation). His collaboration in the Magdeburg Centuries initiated polemical history which charted the corruptions that had developed in the church. Johann Gerhard developed the discipline of patrology with a work by the same title. Johann Benedikt Carpzov I (1607–57) established the study of symbolics (i.e., confessions). Hymnals too were products of the Lutheran Reformation.

Education in Pietism, the Enlightenment, and Modernity

Philipp Jakob Spener (1635–1705) initiated Lutheran Pietism as a movement that stressed conventicles of the pious, chiliastic hope for better times, and the centrality of lay Bible reading. Despite many good things in Pietism, many Pietists also understood it to be about a personal conversion experience necessary for salvation, a salvific need for a certain degree of sanctification, and the pitting of the priesthood of all believers against the clergy. Like many movements in church history that created a false dichotomy between doctrinal fidelity and the Christian life, Pietism’s desire for the Christian life at all costs prompted its adherents to make doctrinal compromises that sometimes cost them their faith. In exchange for an alliance with Hohenzollern Calvinism and the German Enlightenment (Aufklärung) against Orthodox Lutheranism, Lutheran Pietism was allowed to form Pietist pastors via the new founded University of Halle (1694). The new religious, educational, economic, and political situation allowed Pietism to make positive contributions via their social work, their production of cheap Christian literature (e.g., Bibles and devotions), and their foreign mission work. Unlike Lutheran Orthodoxy, Pietism proved unable to contend with the Enlightenment.

The sixteenth and seventeenth century wars of religion eroded many people’s certainty in the revealed truth of Scripture. If Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed could not agree on the meaning of the same Bible passage, many thought they could find a “more certain” foundation for truth in reason. The father of the Enlightenment, René Descartes (1596–1650), birthed Rationalism with his methodical doubt and attempt to ground truth in deductive reasoning from necessary or analytic (a priori) truths. Accordingly, Gotthold Lessing (1729–81) argued that the Bible cannot be trusted as a source of necessary truth. He claimed there was an unbridgeable chasm between the necessary truths of math and the contingent or synthetic truths of Biblical revelation in history. Alternatively, John Locke (1632–1704) birthed Empiricism with his blank slate view of the newborn human mind and his less ambitious attempt to ground probable truth in contingent or synthetic (a posteriori) knowledge from inductive investigation. Similarly, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) pioneered progressive education by arguing that the human being in a state of pure nature was good, civilization corrupts all things including human beings, and self-mastery inhibits self-actualization.

But when David Hume (1711–76) undermined the provability of causality, threatening the very foundations of the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) revolutionized philosophy to save math/science through synthetic a priori knowledge. Kant argued that humans cannot really know the way the world (much less God) works for certain, but they can know how the world appears to them because humans are universally hardwired to see the world through the lens of space, time, and causality. Kant further maintained that human beings have a unique dignity and are distinct from animals which lack the self-conscience ability to control themselves and make moral decisions. From this, he posited human free will, the soul’s immortality, and God are all conditions for human life. By limiting reason to make room for his conception of faith, Kant took away the Rationalists’ arguments against Christianity, but he also undermined traditional apologetical arguments for Christianity. More importantly, he problematized Biblical revelation and was understood to have reduced faith to ethics. Finally, Kant caused a shift in the German university that elevated the liberal arts/philosophy faculty above the law, medicine, and theology faculties. He deemed the liberal arts/philosophy faculty the most free and capable of arbitrating knowledge claims.

The worst of Kant and his progeny, German Idealism and Neo-Kantianism, can be seen in Classical Liberal theology. Its father, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), reground Christian theology in man’s feeling of absolute dependence on God. This reduction of theology to human anthropology allowed his new “science” (Wissenschaft) of Christian theology to be accepted at the new University of Berlin, which displaced theology from its position of oversight.33 As the preeminent model of the nineteenth century university, Berlin fostered a driven, academically free, and interdisciplinary community of scholars where seminars were the link between teaching and research. Despite being a product of the Enlightenment, Berlin scholars (like Schleiermacher) also shared Romanticism’s and German Classicism’s (Neo-Humanism) objection to the Enlightenment’s ahistoricism and neglect of the wisdom of the past. These concerns fueled German philology, history, as well as Humanist approaches to the social sciences. Germans called this study of the human spirit via the humanities and social sciences the “human sciences” (Geisteswissenschaften). Their purpose was to achieve self-cultivation (Bildung).34 As problematic as Deistic Enlightenment thinking was for theology, it was German historical thinking that birthed the historical critical method and evolutionary theory. The historical critical method challenged the historicity of the Scriptures. Evolutionary theory denied that humans were created in the image of God, humans had a unique dignity in creation, and the existence of a fixed human nature. All schools of modern theology are rooted in these streams of thought including those like Karl Barth’s (1886–1968) Neo-Orthodoxy, which tried to distance itself from Classical Liberalism. Of the modern theologians, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–45) and his pastoral formation program for the Finkenwalde Seminary, Life Together, has had the most positive impact on a pastor’s spiritual development.

The appreciation of the past helped Confessional Lutheranism (Repristination [i.e., Orthodox], Grundtvigian, Neo-Lutheran, and Erlangen) reassert itself against the various schools of modern theology, Neo-Pietism, and the Prussian Union (which forced Lutherans and Reformed into a united church). Whereas some Confessional Lutherans were able to retain posts in the German universities or at least at the new mission schools, many immigrated to North and South America or Australia. Lutherans that experienced persecution started more than their own seminaries. They founded printing houses, liberal arts colleges, gymnasium high schools, and parish schools. Forming clergy from hard working immigrant stock proved challenging, but it was also a blessing. Confessional Lutherans not only reprinted the greatest works of Early Modern Lutheranism, they also made new contributions in all disciplines of theology to educate their clergy.35 The Father of Confessional Lutheranism was Claus Harms (1778–1855) who protested the Prussian Union. Few Lutherans had the cultural impact that the Danish pastor, poet, historian, educator, and politician, N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872), had, albeit he equated the living word with the oral word (esp., creed) and sacraments. Erlangen theology’s dynamic approach to Confessionalism was inaugurated by Johann W. F. Hoefling (1802–53), Gottlieb C. A. von Harless (1806–79), and Johannes C. K. von Hofmann (1810–77). The Repristination or Orthodox Lutheran, C. F. W. Walther (1811–87), showed that a truly American Lutheran Church could exist that did not conflate “American” with a broad Reformed Evangelicalism, like Samuel Simon Schmucker (1799–1872) and many since have tried to contend.

As Confessional Lutherans have critically engaged the modern theologians, Confessional Lutherans have increasingly revealed modern theology’s flawed presuppositions and shown that a robust Confessional Lutheranism can better address the concerns of modern theology without abandoning the apostolic faith. The most significant twentieth century developments in Confessional Lutheran seminary education have been vicarages, seminary field experience, and the further expansion of new areas of study within practical theology (e.g., new facets of missiology, pedagogy, counseling as well as parish administration, leadership, communication theory, interpersonal relationships, conflict management, media and mission, etc.), especially in light of the social sciences and the social upheaval since the 1960s. While Scripture remains the sole source of theology, Lutheran theology can only properly be done when it is keenly applied with the bedside manner of an old time physician of souls who knows just how to apply it because he intimately knows each of his sheep and thoroughly understands the human condition.

At present, Confessional Lutheran seminary formation is confronted by the following new challenges: How to provide a sufficient enough foundation for pastoral education in an education environment that has increasingly demoted the humanities? This is compounded by the problem that many humanities and social science programs no longer believe in a fixed human nature and have become hotbeds of social constructionism. How best to realize the four dimensions of pastoral formation; namely, spiritual formation, academic formation, pastoral formation, and human formation? How best to equip the new generation of pastors to minister in an increasingly globalized, secular, and hostile world, while keeping them filled with the joy of the gospel and confidence that the one holy Christian and apostolic church will prevail until Christ comes again because Christ has already prevailed over sin, death, and the devil?


1 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut Lehmann, and Christopher Brown (St. Louis and Philadelphia: Concordia Publishing House and Fortress Publishing House, 1955–), 49:34.

2 What is extant are student exercises that have been preserved in clay tablets, such as unilingual (i.e., Sumerian) or multilingual (i.e., Sumerian + Akkadian if not more languages) word lists, grammatical paradigms, and dialogues. Occupational guides (e.g., “Instructions to a Farmer”) have also been recovered. Some descriptions of school activities (e.g., Sumerian school regulations), scribal training, and scribal practices have been preserved as well. Thus, “schools” for elites seem to exist in Mesopotamia and Egypt already in the third millennium BC. Since the Sumerian word for “school” (É-DUB-BA-[A]), which literally means “tablet house/room,” can also mean administrative center or archive, it is hard to identify actual schools in texts. Scholars maintain that there is still no definitive evidence of buildings used only for schools though some archaeologists have claimed as much.

Parents most likely provided rudimentary religious instruction for their children and taught them their own occupations in the home. Scribes, priests, and royals conversely were probably trained in administrative and religious centers. Education focused on learning how to read and write syllables, specialized vocabularies, grammatical forms, and sentences. Eventually students learned to read and write the administrative and religious texts required of them. Such students were reportedly taught in courtyards covered by awnings which contained a school well that provided water for mixing with clay for the purpose of tablets. They sat on felt cloth and used the sand in front of them like a blackboard. Memorization via copying and recitation was foundational to teaching. Anchor Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Education: Education in Mesopotamia.”

3 “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deut 6:1–12 [ESV]). Emphasis mine.

4 Anchor Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Education: Ancient Israel”; James L. Crenshaw, Education in Ancient Israel: Across the Deadening Silence (New York: Doubleday, 1998).

5 Isocrates, Panathenaicus 30–32; Isocrates, Antidosis 167–319. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to classical authors are based on the following: Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1911–). Werner Jaeger explains the elusiveness of the paideia further, “It is impossible to avoid bringing in modern expressions like civilization, culture, tradition, literature, or education. … Each of them is confined to an aspect of [paideia]; they cannot take in the same field as the Greek concept unless we employ them all together. The ancients were persuaded that education and culture are not a formal art or an abstract theory, distinct from the objective historical structure of a nation’s spiritual life. They held them to be embodied in literature, which is the real expression of all higher culture.” Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, trans. Gilbert Highet, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 1:v.

6 Juvenal, Satires 10.356.

7 H. I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity, trans. George Lamb (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), 46–313; Yun Lee Too, ed., Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Leiden: Brill, 2001); Mark Joyal, “Education in Greek and Roman Antiquity,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Education, ed. John L. Rury and Eileen H. Tamura (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 83–97.

8 t. Qidd. 1.11.

9 b. B. Bat. 21a. See also y. Ketub. 8:11, 32c; b. Sanh.17b.

10 Anchor Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Education: Greco-Roman Period;” Jacques Brunschwig and Geoffrey E. R. Lloyd, ed., Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2000), 870–81. Rabbi Yehuda ben Tema writes, “At five years, one is fit for the Scriptures, at ten years for the Mishnah, at thirteen for the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud, at eighteen for the Bridal-chamber, at twenty for pursuing (a calling), at thirty for authority.” m. ʼAbot 5:21.

11 W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism: Some Rabbinic Elements in Pauline Theology, 2nd ed. (London: SPCK, 1958).

12 Augustine, Questions on the Heptateuch 2.73. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to the Church Fathers are based on the following: Patrologiae cursus completes: Series Graece, ed. Jacques Paul Migne (Paris and Turnhout: Migne and Brepolis, 1857–66); Patrologiae cursus completes: Series Latina, ed. Jacques Paul Migne (Paris and Turnhout: Migne and Brepolis, 1859–63).

13 Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Ephesians 4; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8.

14 Tertullian of Carthage, On the Prescription against Heretics 7; Augustine, On Christians Doctrine 2.58–63.

15 Irenaeus of Lyon, Against the Heresies 5.20.

16 Marrou, A History of Education, 314–29; Werner Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (Cambridge: The Belknap Press Harvard University, 1961); Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).

17 The text criticism of Origen’s Hexapla, his threefold sense of Scripture, and his Bible commentaries prompted the greatest of the early commentators, John Chrysostom (d. 407), Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus (ca. 393–466), Augustine, and Jerome (ca. 347–419). In contrast to the Eastern Church which favored the Septuagint, Jerome’s Vulgate ensured that the Western Church would use a Latin translation of Old Testament based on the original Hebrew. The church histories of Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 265–339), Socrates Scholasticus (d. ca. 439), and Hermias Sozomen (fl. fifth century) laid the seeds for historical theology. Besides the early apologists’ writings and the creeds, the most significant doctrinal treatises were Irenaeus of Lyon’s (ca. 130/140–98) Against the Heresies, Athanasius of Alexandria’s (295/300–73) On the Incarnation, the Cappadocians’ Trinitarian writings, Cyril of Alexandria’s (370/80–444) Christological writings, Maximus the Confessor’s (ca. 580–662) Christological writings, as well as Augustine’s On the Holy Trinity and his polemic writings against Manicheanism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. The closest things to a proto-systematic theology after Origen’s On the First Principles was John of Damascus’s (ca. 650–749) An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith. The great liturgical traditions, church orders (e.g., Didache, Hippolytus’s Apostolic Tradition, and Apostolic Constitutions), and synodical/conciliar decrees helped the clergy guide Christian life. Finally, Ambrose of Milan’s [ca. 337–97] Ciceronian On the Duties of the Clergy, Chrysostom’s On the Priesthood, Gregory the Great’s [ca. 540–604] Pastoral Rule (i.e., the pastor’s complement to the monk’s Rule of Saint Benedict) and Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine (i.e., a Christian hermeneutics and rhetorical manual) all highlight how the study of Scripture, prudential pastoral care, and preaching remained the heart of Early Christian pastoral theology.

18 Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on Song of Songs 1.

19 Jean Leclereq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Noted Medievalist Studies the Monastic Culture of the Middle Ages, trans. Catharine Misrahi (New York: Mentor Omega Book, 1962), 57–151.

20 Marrou, A History of Education, 330–50.

21 Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1947–48), 1.1.2; 1.1.4.

22 John Tracy Ellis, Essays in Seminary Education (Notre Dame, IN: Fides Publishers, 1967), 3–16; Hilde de Ridder-Symoens, ed., A History of University Education, vol. 1, Universities in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 307–59, 409–41.

23 Besides the Ordinary Gloss, a massive work that surrounded the Biblical text with the best commentary of the Ancient and Medieval Church, another contribution of the time were Bible commentaries that took an interest in Hebrew and the literal sense. Nicholas of Lyra’s (ca. 1270–1349) commentaries became so famous that they were appended to the Ordinary Gloss. After the writings of Anselm of Canterbury, the Yes and No of the controversial Peter Abelard (1079–1142) advanced systematic thinking until Lombard’s Sentences became the normative textbook, resulting in an impressive tradition of commentaries. The greatest systematic and apologetical works of the period were Thomas Aquinas’s Summary of Theology and his Summary against the Gentiles respectively. Medieval historical theology had not progressed much beyond chronology and hagiography, save for Otto of Freising’s (ca. 1111–58) Chronicle or History of the Two Cities, Geoffrey of Villehardouin’s The Conquest of Constantinople (ca. 1150–1213), and the apocalyptic Trinitarian history of the controversial mystic Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1135–1202). More model sermons, preaching helps, and pastoral theology manuals were produced than times past because of technological innovations and need. One of the most famous pastoral theologies was Guido of Monte Rochen’s (fl. 1331) Handbook for Curates. The crisis of the Late Middle Ages brought about a flood of devotions like the Golden Legend and the Imitation of Christ.

24 Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought and its Sources, ed. Michael Mooney (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), 22–23.

25 de Ridder-Symoens, A History of University, 1:442–68; Albert Rabil, Jr., ed., Renaissance Humanism: Foundations, Forms, and Legacy, vo1. 3., Humanism and the Disciplines (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 5–22.

26 Bernd Moller, “The German Humanists and the Beginning of the Reformation” in Imperial Cities and the Reformation, Three Essays, ed. and trans. H. C. Erik Midelfort and Mark U. Edwards, Jr. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972), 19–38.

27 Luther, “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany that They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools, 1534,” in LW, 45:339–78.

28 Hilde de Ridder-Symoens, ed., A History of University Education, vol. 2, Universities in Early Modern Europe (1500–1800) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 457–70, 474–86, 570–99.

29 Walter Friedensburg, Geschichte der Universität Wittenberg (Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1917), 395–430.

30 Abraham Calov, Systema Locorum Theologicorum … exhibens (Wittenberg: Andreas Hartmann et al., 1655–77), 1:1; Abraham Calov, Isagoges Ad SS. Theologiam … Calixtine, 2nd ed. (Wittenberg: Andreas Hartmann, 1666), 2:31–36.

31 The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, s.v. “Theological Education;” Thomas Albert Howard, Protestant Theology and the Making of the Modern German University (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 45–80.

32 Lutherans wrote guides to theological study of which Gerhard’s Method of Theological Study and Calov’s Isagogics for Sacred Theology are best. Luther produced a High German Bible translation. Johannes Bugenhagen (1485–1558) did the same for Low German, Hans Poulsen Resen (1561–1638) for Danish, and Sebastian Schmidt (1617–96) for Latin. Salomon Glassius’s (1593–1656) Philologia Sacra advanced hermeneutics after Flacius and Gerhard. Following Luther, Melanchthon, and Johannes Brenz (1498/99–1570), Lutheran exegetes are legion, but Tilemann Hesshusius (1527–88), Friedrich Balduin (1575–1627), Calov, and Schmidt are frequently cited. The Harmony of the Four Gospel which Martin Chemnitz (1522–86) began is also particularly noteworthy. Lutherans even produced German Glossed Bibles (e.g., Weimar Bible, Calov Bible). Wittenberg, Jena, Eisleben, and Altenburg editions of Luther’s writings were published. After Gerhard’s Theological Commonplaces, Johann Andreas Quenstedt’s (1617–88) Didactic-Polemic Theology or Theological System was the most comprehensive systematics, but Calov’s System of Theological Commonplaces is more insightful. The best polemics were Chemnitz’s Examination of the Council of Trent, Leonhard Hutter’s (1563–1616) Concordant Harmony, Nikolaus Hunnius’s (1585–1643) Diaskepsis Theologica, Gerhard’s Catholic Confession, and Calov’s manifold polemics. The confessions, liturgical agenda, and ecclesial law of each territory were laid out in church orders. The most highly regarded pastoral theology was Conrad Porta’s Pastoral Theology of Luther. Of the others, Johann Ludwig Hartmann’s (1640–84) is the next most highly regarded. Balduin, Georg Dedekenn (1564–1628), and the Wittenberg faculty offered treasure troves of casuistry. Johann Habermann (1516–90), Philipp Nicholai (1556–1608), Johann Arndt (1555–1621), Gerhard, Christian Scriver (1629–93), and Heinrich Müller (1631–75) wrote the most beloved devotionals. Hardly any theologian failed to publish sermon collections.

33 Friedrich Schleiermacher, Christian Faith: A New Translation and Critical Edition, trans. Terrence N. Nice et al. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), 1:1–3, 8–45; 2:833–56.

34 Howard, Protestant Theology, 80–418; Walter Rüegg, ed., A History of University Education, vol. 3, Universities in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (1800–1945) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 47–53, 55–57, 393–491.

35 The most significant exegetes were Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg (1802–69), Franz Julius Delitzsch (1813–90), Carl Paul Caspari (1814–92), and Theodor Zahn (1838–1933). Gottfried Thomasius (1802–75), Friedrich Adolf Philippi (1809–82), von Hofmann, and Franz H. R. von Frank (1827–94) represent Erlangen’s dogmatic and historical innovations. The most noteworthy apologist was Christoph Ernst Luthardt (1823–1902). August F. C. Vilmar (1800–1868), Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802–61), Wilhelm Löhe (1808–72), and Theodor F. D. Kliefoth (1810–95) argued for a high church ecclesiology. The most significant scholar of liturgy and church orders was Kliefoth. The Hermannsburg Harms brothers and Löhe represent the most important mission church planters in Germany.

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