« Prev The Apology of the Augsburg Confession. A.D.… Next »

§ 42. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, A.D. 1530–1531.

The Literature in §§ 40 and 41. The history and literature of the Apology are usually combined with that of the Confession. So in J. G. Walch, Feuerlin-Riederer, Köllner, etc.

The best text of the Apology, and of the Roman Catholic Confutation of the Confession, in Latin and German, with all the variations, is given in the Corpus Reformatorum, Vol. XXVII., ed. Bindseil (Brunsvigæ, 1859), pp. 646, fol. There are few separate editions of the Apology. Feuerlin knew only two, one under the singular title: Evangelischen Augapfels (name of the Augsb. Conf.) Brillen-Butzer, Leipz. 1629.


The 'Apology of the Augsburg Confession' was prepared by Melanchthon in vindication of the Confession against the Roman Catholic 'Confutation,' which the Emperor and the Diet had ordered and accepted, August 3, 1530, as a satisfactory answer, although, in the eyes of scholars, it did the cause of popery more harm than good.

The Confutation follows the order of the Augsburg Confession, approves eighteen articles of the first part, either in full or with sundry restrictions and qualifications, but rejects entirely the articles on the Church (VII.), on faith and good works (XX.), and on the worship of saints (XXI.), and the whole second part; nevertheless, it acknowledges at the close the existence of various abuses, especially among the clergy, and promises a reformation of discipline. The publication of the document was prohibited, and it did not appear till many years afterwards; but its main contents were known from manuscript copies, and through those who heard it read.454454   The Latin text of the Confutatio was first published by Fabricius Leodius in Harmonia Confess., 1573; the German, by C. G. Müller, 1808, from a copy of the original in the archives of Mayence, which Weber had previously obtained. Both in the Corp. Reform. l.c. Comp. also above, p. 226; Weber's Krit. Gesch. der A. C. II. pp. 439 sqq.; and Hugo Lämmer (who afterwards joined the Romish Church): Die vor-Tridentinisch-Katholische Theologie, des Reformations-Zeitalters, Berlin, 1858, pp. 33–46.

The Lutherans urged Melanchthon to prepare at once a Protestant refutation of the Romish refutation, and offered the first draft of it to the Diet, Sept. 22, through Chancellor Brück, but it was refused. On the following day Melanchthon left Augsburg in company with the Elector of Saxony, and re-wrote the Apology on the journey,455455   His zeal led him to violate even the law of rest on Sunday when at Altenburg, in Spalatin's house. Luther took the pen from him, and told him to serve God on that day by resting from literary labor. So Salig reports in his Hist. of the Augsb. Conf. I. p. 375. and completed it at Wittenberg in April, 1531.

The Apology is a triumphant vindication of the Confession. It far excels the Confutation both in theological and literary merit, and 244in Christian tone and spirit. It is written with solid learning, clearness, and moderation, though not without errors in exegesis and patristic quotations. It is seven times as large as the Confession itself. It is the most learned of the Lutheran symbols. It greatly strengthened the confidence of scholars in the cause of Protestantism. Its chief and permanent value consists in its being the oldest and most authentic interpretation of the Augsburg Confession by the author himself.

The Apology, though not signed by the Lutheran Princes at Augsburg, was recognized first in 1532, at a convent in Schweinfurt, as a public confession; it was signed by Lutheran divines at Smalcald, 1537; it was used at the religious conference at Worms, 1540, and embodied in the various symbolical collections, and at last in the Book of Concord.

The text of the Apology has, like that of the Confession, gone through various transformations. The original draft made at Augsburg has no authority.456456   Manuscript copies of this 'Apologia prior,' which was based on an imperfect knowledge of the Romish Confutatio, still exist. The Latin text of it was published forty-seven years afterwards by Chytræus (from Spalatin's copy), 1578, better by Förstemann, in his Neues Urkundenbuch (1842), pp. 357–380 (from a copy written partly by Spalatin and partly by Melanchthon). The best edition is by Bindseil, in the Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVII. pp. 275 sqq. in Latin, and in German, pp. 322 sqq. The first Latin edition was much enlarged and improved, and appeared in April, 1531, at Wittenberg, together with a very free German translation by Justus Jonas, assisted by Melanchthon.457457   During the preparation of the editio princeps he wrote to Brentius (February, 1531): 'Ego retexo Apologiam et edetur longe auctior et melius munita,' and to Camerarius (March 7): 'Apologia mea nondum absoluta est, crescit enim opus inter scribendum.' Quoted by Köllner, I, p. 426. Six sheets were reprinted, and a copy of the first print is preserved in the library of Nuremberg. See Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVII. pp. 391 sqq. The second Latin edition of the same year was again much changed, and is called the Variata.458458   See the titles of the various editions in Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVI. pp. 235–242, and the best text of the 'Apologia altera' of 1531, with the changes of later editions till 1542 (viz., of the ed. II. 1531, ed. III. 1540, ed. IV. 1542), in Corp. Reform. Vol. XXVII. pp. 419–646. The German text was also transformed, especially in the edition of 1533. The Book of Concord took both texts from the first edition.


« Prev The Apology of the Augsburg Confession. A.D.… Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection