Thursday, December 22, 2011

Andreas Althamer

Althamer, Andreas (1500?–1539), German humanist and reformer. Born of a peasant family in Brenz, Württemberg, Althamer attended school in Augsburg and studied in Leipzig and Tübingen (matriculating, respectively, in 1516 and 1518). In 1519 he returned to Leipzig, where he studied ancient languages, was influenced by Petrus Mosellanus, and took a particular interest in Tacitus. He worked as school assistant in Schwäbisch-Hall (1521) and later in Reutlingen. He sent the first version of his Tacitus commentary to Philipp Melanchthon, who recommended a revision. This work became a lifelong preoccupation.

Having preached evangelical reform as chaplain in Schwäbisch-Gmünd (1524), he was dismissed. After his engagement to a young woman of Gmünd, he applied for citizenship there but was rejected. He matriculated at the University of Wittenberg on 18 October 1525. In 1526 he was in Nuremberg and became pastor in Eltersdorf, near Erlangen in 1527. A deacon at Saint Sebaldus in Nuremberg from early 1528, he took part in the religious colloquy at Bern (January 1528). From 1526 onward, he defended Lutheran positions against the old church—as well as Zwinglians, Anabaptists, and others—in his publications. The first of these, on the Eucharist, he dedicated to Georg Vogler, secretary to the margrave of Ansbach. There, the Reformation was initiated upon the succession of George of Brandenburg-Ansbach, and Althamer was appointed pastor in Ansbach (May 1528). When Margrave George decreed a visitation in his territory based on the church order for Brandenburg and Nuremberg (1528/29), it was largely conducted by Althamer and his colleague Johann Rurer. Because the church order had not yet been published, he wrote an instruction—Catechismus: Das ist vnterricht zum Christlichen Glauben …—printed in Nuremberg in 1528 by Friedrich Peypus (the first work of this kind expressly called a catechism). It was meant for pastors, deacons, catechists, and fathers in the principality of Margrave George. Later it was replaced by Martin Luther's catechisms. In 1537 Althamer was called to Neumarkt by Margrave John of Brandenburg-Küstrin. As a visitor he helped to introduce the Reformation in that Hohenzollern territory in northern Germany.

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