The view inside Castle Church.

Marsh speaks at prestigious Martin Luther conference

by Natalia Kirychuk, Public Relations Writer


Cedarville University's Dr. Billy Marsh, assistant professor of theology, presented at the 13th International Congress for Luther Research, an international gathering of scholars who exchange and stimulate study on Martin Luther and the Reformation. The congress took place in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, from July 30-August 4 and explored the topic “Luther between Tradition and Renewal.”

The first congress was held in 1956 in Denmark and has been held every five or six years since in a range of international locations. The last congress was held in 2012 at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Attendees participate by invitation only.

While writing his dissertation on Luther in 2011, Marsh reached out to prominent Luther scholar Dr. Robert Kolb for feedback on his work, and that started a dialogue between the two on Luther and the Reformation. In 2015, Kolb invited Marsh to participate in this year’s International Congress for Luther Research. Marsh was among nearly 200 Luther scholars.

“The Congress had arranged for us to have most of our assemblies in historic locations in Wittenberg,” said Marsh. “For example, the opening session on Sunday night took place inside the Castle Church, the very place where not only is it believed that Luther posted the 95 Theses to the Castle door, but also where he is buried along with his colleague and co-Reformer Philip Melanchthon and the elector of Wittenberg, Frederick the Wise.”

Seminars and working groups met the second half of each day in the Leucorea, the old campus for Wittenberg University, where Luther, Melanchthon and other important figures of the Reformation attended and taught. “To be in a seminar devoted to the study of Luther with the world's top scholars in the same place where Professor Luther himself likely walked the halls was quite a surreal experience,” Marsh said.

Marsh participated in a seminar titled “Luther and the Jews to 1523” chaired by Dr. Stephen Burnett, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and leading Jewish historian. During the seminar, Marsh presented his paper titled “A Comparative Study of Luther’s Understanding of the Jews in His Lectures on Galatians from 1519-1535.”

Marsh also presented his paper “Luther’s Use of Prosopological Exegesis in the Gospel of John for His Trinitarian Understanding” during a section of short presentations on exegetical issues alongside five other scholars, who represented institutions ranging from Universidade Luterana do Brasil, University of Cambridge and Marquette University.

“To be invited to attend the 13th International Congress for Luther Research is alone an honor that I remain deeply humbled to have received,” said Marsh. “To visit Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, for a Luther scholar is a special experience that by itself has considerable meaning and inspiration.

“To have been able to enjoy both of these significant blessings for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation marked by Luther's 95 Theses from October 31, 1517, for me is difficult to express with words, and most certainly, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for which I will always be in awe of and thankful.”

Marsh published the book “Martin Luther on Reading the Bible as Christian Scripture: The Messiah in Luther's Biblical Hermeneutic and Theology” on July 17.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.