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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Johannes Bugenhagen

Today, April 20, commemorates the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Although his first encounter with Martin Luther’s thought (On the Babylonian Captivity of the Chuch) did not meet a favorable impression, he studied further and came to appreciate the doctrine of the Reformation.

As Martin Luther’s pastor and confessor, Bugenhagen came to occupy a prominent place in the Reformation. It is especially in the areas of biblical and liturgical studies that he made his greatest impact. Bugenhagen (Pastor Pomer) greatly assisted in Luther’s work of translating the Holy Scriptures into the German tongue.

In a letter to Hamburg in 1528, Pomer outlined a set of church regulations (Kirchenordnungen) which established him a the great organizer of the Reformation in northern Germany and Scandinavia. He either wrote, or had a hand in writing nine different Kirchenordnungen in these areas, earning for himself the name “Apostle of the North.”

Bugenhagen’s greatest influence on me came through his commentary on the Psalms which has not yet been translated into English. In this work, he helps the reader to see that every Psalm is ultimately about Jesus of Nazareth and, by extension, all those who are baptized into His body, namely the Church. See Maurice Schild, “Approaches to Bugenhagen’s Psalms Commentary (1524),” Lutheran Theological Journal, 1992 26:1, 63-71.

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