Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation examines the way Philip Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession and Martin Luther's closest co-worker, sought to establish the relationship between faith and reason in the cradle of the Lutheran tradition, Wittenberg University. While Melanchthon is widely recognized to have played a crucial role in the Reformation of the Church in the sixteenth century as well as in the Renaissance in Northern Europe, he has in general received relatively little scholarly attention, few have attempted to explore his philosophy in depth, and those who have examined his philosophical work have come to contradictory or less than helpful conclusions about it. He has been regarded as an Aristotelian, a Platonist, a philosophical eclectic, and as having been torn between Renaissance humanism and Evangelical theology. An understanding of the way Melanchthon related faith and reason awaits a well-founded and accurate account of his philosophy.
Having stated the problem and finding it inadequately treated in the secondary literature, this dissertation presents an account of Melanchthon's philosophical development. Finding that his philosophy was ultimately founded upon his understanding of and method in rhetoric and dialectics, this dissertation explicates his mature accounts of these arts. It then presents an account of Melanchthon's philosophy as both humanistic (i.e., rhetorically based and practically rather than speculatively oriented) and fideistic (i.e, skeptical about the product of human reason alone, but finding certainty in philosophy founded upon, and somewhat limited by, Christian faith). After a final assessment of claims about Melanchthon's philosophy from the secondary literature, this dissertation considers how such a humanistic, fideistic philosophy might be helpful for Christians in a philosophically post-modern situation.