Historical Method and Working Techniques of the Magdeburg Centuries

Church History within an Erudite Network in the 16th Century. With a Digitized Critical Edition of the Methodical Texts

The Magdeburg Centuries (first published 1559-1574) are the first universal Protestant church history. Divided into centuries and arranged by theological commonplaces (loci communes), the Magdeburg Centuries represent the efforts of a network of scholars led by Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520-1575) and Johannes Wigand (1523-1587). This group organized the entire undertaking - from the collection, analysis and arrangement of the material to the printing and distribution of the books. All of the contributors were trained in Melanchthon's philosophy of scholarship and developed their plan in the context of the anti-imperial and apocalyptically inspired God's chancery (Herrgottskanzlei) in Magdeburg.

The goal of the project was to situate the Magdeburg Centuries in contemporary European historiography and the history of knowledge. Its contribution to the formation of a historical method is derived from the Melanchthonian system of theological topics. The influences of the apocalyptic critique of power and the humanist source criticism of French legal studies on the Centuries' critical method is also analyzed.

The source material is comprised of handwritten manuscripts pertaining to methodological and organizational issues. Most of them are located in the Herzog August Bibliothek. A digital edition of these texts, along with a critical apparatus and short remarks, has been published.



Historische Methode und Arbeitstechnik der Magdeburger Zenturien: Edition ausgewählter Dokumente, ed. by Harald Bollbuck, unter Mitarbeit von Carsten Nahrendorf und Inga Hanna Ralle (Wolfenbüttel: Herzog August Bibliothek, 2014).
Catalogue  Edition

Harald Bollbuck: Wahrheitszeugnis, Gottes Auftrag und Zeitkritik: Die Kirchengeschichte der Magdeburger Zenturien und ihre Arbeitstechniken. Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 138 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014).
Catalogue HAB Publications


Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Contact: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gleixner
Phone: +49(0)5331-808-246, Fax -277