Cover Story

The durable Dürer

"The durable Dürer" Continued...

Issue: "Four horsemen of the apocalypse," Oct. 4, 2008

Luther, like Dürer, understood how the printing press gave great liberty to individuals to see and read for themselves. Luther's primary impact was not as a producer of treatises but as a very popular writer of vigorous prose. Between 1517 and 1530 Luther's 30 publications probably sold well over 300,000 copies, an astounding total at a time when illiteracy was rampant and printing still an infant. Like Dürer's rhinoceros, the Reformation pushed its way to the edge of its theological frame-but then pushed further, with a wide variety of denominations and churches emerging. Some of them still celebrate Reformation Day every Oct. 31 and will do so later this month.

Dürer did produce in 1526 an engraving of Luther's younger associate Philipp Melanchthon, and put below it the humble inscription, "Dürer was able to draw Philipp's face, but the learned hand could not paint his spirit." Maybe, but Dürer suggested Melanchthon's intelligence by giving him a high forehead along with a large eye that seems capable of piercing darkness. Melanchthon in 1530 was the lead writer of the Augsburg Confession, one of the Reformation's leading documents, but Dürer had died in 1528. When Luther heard of the artist's demise, he wrote, "It is natural and right to weep for so excellent a man."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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