This book argues the provocative thesis that Philip Melanchthon, so often pictured as hopelessly caught in the middle between Erasmus and Luther, and more "Erasmian" than Lutheran in his thought, was, at least in his theological methods and views, not Erasmian at all, but in fact sharply opposed to Erasmus. Author Timothy J. Wengert builds his case largely on the basis of Melanchthon's Scholia on the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, employing the critically important but seldom used second edition of 1528, which was produced in the aftermath of Luther and Erasmus's famous debate over the free will. Wengert also draws on a wide range of other contemporary sources, many of them well known but, as he argues, frequently misunderstood. Throughout this analysis he subjects a wide range of the secondary literature to sharp critical review.
From the vantage point of a relatively narrow exegetical dispute, the book deals with a number of important topics: the complicated and elusive relationships between humanism and the Reformation, Erasmus and Luther, Erasmus and Melanchthon, and Melanchthon and Luther; the theological issues of proper biblical interpretation, of free will, and of divine and human righteousness; and the hotly contested social problem of political order. Human Freedom, Christian Righteousness will be of interest not only to students and scholars of Reformation theology, but to a broader audience of those concerned with Renaissance and Reformation history and literature.
"This book should appeal to anyone who values a critical but appreciative interpretation of the life and work of the much maligned Melanchthon."--Word and World
"This detailed exegetical study will be of interest to students of Melanchthon in particular and more generally to those concerned with the Reformation."--Choice
"...this volume above all illustrates how the study of exegesis can be used to gain access to theological developments as well as the events of the time. This book is recommended for all college, university, and seminary libraries."--Religious Studies Review
"an important addition to studies in the Reformation and in biblical humanism. It should be read by all who are interested in history, theology, philosophy, and the classics."--Sixteenth Century Journal
"I cannot begin to comment adequately on the richness that comes through Wengert's meticulous following of one clue and another, especially in letters exchanged between Melanchthon and others, to make connections that are as sound in support of his argument as they are original. . . . Wengert's book clearly ranks with the very best studies of Melanchthon that we have in print."--The Journal of Religion