Monday, March 19, 2012

Dead, Dry Bones Come to Life in Wittenberg: The Latin School Will Teach Once Again

Both Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon worked tirelessly to introduce a proper educational system in German Saxony. One of their success stories was the Boys’ Latin School in Wittenberg, established in 1533. Here the students obtained a proper classical education whose foundation was Jesus Christ. This school, and others like it, became a strong support structure for the Reformation, as the students were taught the faith as well as the Trivium and the Quadrivium. Students in the upper level studied Hebrew and Greek, and some of them went on to Wittenberg University to become Lutheran pastors. Even now, this system of classical education has left its mark in our present Concordia system. Today in the city of Wittenberg there is a remnant of that system which is being resurrected.

The Wittenberg Boys’ Latin School was founded under the watchful eye of Luther and Melanchthon in 1533 (there was a girls’ school as well). In 1564, the school moved to a new building, across from Luther’s church, the Stadtkirche (also known as St. Mary’s or Town Church in English). That building, like many centuries-old buildings, has survived a number of iterations, including life as a publishing plant and a clothes factory, having now stood empty for nearly two decades. It was built on the site of the old Wittenburg ossuary. The Christians whose bones have been found in a dig beneath the building await the trumpet call when Christ will return and bring their bones back to life. Similarly, as the carcass of this old building is brought back to life, the dead, dry bones of unbelievers will come to life as the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ once again issues forth from this building.

Part of the original plan for the building was to house a museum called the Martin Luther Experience. That portion of the plan has been scrapped due to monetary constraints. While a museum would have been nice, I can’t help but be excited about the enduring legacy that will be created by present and future Lutherans who will come into contact with the Gospel here. The building is currently being remodeled, with appointments for
  • Educational and cultural programs
  • Short-term guest housing for visitors, scholars, teachers and students – especially from LCMS universities and seminaries
  • Research and writing
  • Historical exhibits
  • Dining and fellowship
  • A welcome center
The Wittenberg Latin School will teach once again, as the Lord restores dead, dry bones to life through His Gospel. Here’s a video taken by President Matt Harrison which shows the interior of the building:

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