Institute for Luther Studies

The Institute for Luther Studies serves the Seminary as the center that promotes in-depth study of Luther and interdisciplinary Reformation scholarship with inclusive, ecumenical, and global perspectives. Established in 1970, the Institute seeks to support both scholarship and ministry, responding to issues facing Lutherans today. Its original purpose of  “critical reassessment of Luther and his heritage in terms of their significance for modern ecumenical Christianity” is enhanced by renewed focus on supportive interdisciplinary scholarship in the field. The Rev. Dr. Kirsi Stjerna, Professor of Reformation Church History at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, directs the Institute.  

The Institute for Luther Studies sponsors the annual Luther Colloquy.

2013 Luther Colloquy:

On Devils and Violence, with Luther

2013 Presenters:
Volker Leppin – “Luther on Devil”
Mickey Mattox – ““Warrior Saints? Luther on Violence in the Patriarchal Narratives of Genesis.”

STM Course Fall 2013:

Luther and Lutherans on Contemporary Concerns

A hybrid course (online/residential) by Prof. Kirsi Stjerna
For a description click here.
If you are interested, please contact Dr Kirsi Stjerna at

Luther and Lutherans on Marriage
was to be held Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Presenters:
Christopher Boyd Brown, Boston University
John Witte Jr. Emory University
Karin Bohleke, Shippensburg University
Briant Bohleke, Gettysburg Seminary

Note from the Director:  We are sorry that the Luther Colloquy 2012 on “Luther and Lutherans on Marriage” was cancelled due to the Sandy Storm, closing of the campus and the impossible travel conditions for our speakers. Gettysburg Seminary looks forward to hosting Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown and Dr. John Witte Jr. at another time. We will make their presentations available in the spring 2013 issue of Seminary Ridge Review Spring 2013.



To view a list of past Luther Colloquy presenters click here.





Welcome to Luther Colloquy 2012, on October 31, 2012.


This year’s topic is of special human interest, historically, theologically and ethically. The lectures on sixteenth-century ideologies, laws, and homilies around marriage will invite us to reflect broadly on the issue of Lutherans and marriage, both historically and with contemporary concerns.


What have Lutherans thought and taught about marriage, in the sixteenth century and beyond, and why? What is Lutheran theology of marriage made of and what are the sixteenth-century historical foundations for our continued or discontinued traditions around marriage? What can we learn from the sixteenth-century decisions and sermons? What is the legacy of the reformers’ radical decision to allow clergy marriage and promote marriage as a holy vocation open to all? Why is marriage not a sacrament for Lutherans but a vocation, and why is it for some but not all? What other questions might we have?


As a special treat, we will have a short presentation from the LTSG Wentz Library: Dr. Karin Bohleke will present from her work in the archives of the seminary library and introduce some of the gems and rare texts from the sixteenth century. A special display will be made available to showcase just a handful of these exquisite books.  Please make sure to stop by at the library to take a look at these treasures, and while there, you will have a chance to make finds in our traditional Used Books Sale as well as in our bookstore (sorry, none of the sixteenth-century texts will be for sale).


We will end our day together with the Eucharist, with the Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis-Hoffman preaching and the Rev. Kathy Vitalis-Hoffman presiding.


Luther Colloquy is offered by the Institute for Luther Studies, which wishes to enhance Luther and Reformation studies and make sources and opportunities available to our students, graduates and friends of the seminary. Towards that goal, we seek to secure for our library a broad selection of new studies in the field. Each year, we offer recognition to a promising graduating student in Luther and Reformation studies, to encourage our students to continue their studies in the field. We offer a Luther-seminar regularly, open to students in all degree programs and to “guests”. We wish to make funds available for students to study in Germany and/or the German language. We sponsor and develop scholarly collaboration and exchange between LTSG and other institutions. We foster our relationship with the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland for continued student/scholar exchange. And we offer travel opportunities. (See the attached flier for a May-June, 2013 trip to Germany and Prague). Last but not least, we have joined the Refo500 – an international network between churches and institutions and schools around the globe, seeking for ways to not only celebrate the upcoming 2017 milestone as the beginning of the Reformation, but actively engage in creative assessment and re-imagining of the legacy, foundations, challenges and promises of the Reformation(s) today, and ecumenically so.


We welcome our distinguished speakers to Luther Colloquy 2012, and we welcome you all to join us in the conversation!


Kirsi Stjerna

Director, Institute for Luther Studies, and the Luther Colloquy


On behalf of the Graduate Studies Committee: Brooks Schramm, Briant Bohleke, John Spangler, and Kirsi Stjerna



Introducing our guest speakers:


John Witte, Jr. is Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion Center at Emory University.  A specialist in legal history, marriage law, and religious liberty, he has published 200 articles, 13 journal symposia, and 26 books. 


Recent book titles include: Sex, Marriage and Family Life in John Calvin’s Geneva, 2 vols. (2005, 2012); Modern Christian Teachings on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, 3 vols. (2006); God’s Joust, God’s Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition (2006); The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion, and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism (2007); Christianity and Law: An Introduction (2008); Sins of the Fathers: The Law and Theology of Illegitimacy Reconsidered (2009); Christianity and Human Rights: An Introduction (2010); and Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment (3d ed. 2011). 


Professor Witte’s writings have appeared in twelve languages, and he has lectured and convened conferences in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Africa.  With major funding from the Pew, Ford, Lilly, Luce, and McDonald foundations, he has directed 12 major international projects on democracy, human rights, and religious liberty, and on marriage, family, and children. These projects have collectively yielded more than 160 new volumes and 250 public forums around the world.  He edits two major book series, “Studies in Law and Religion,” and “Religion, Marriage and Family.” He has been selected ten times by the Emory law students as the Most Outstanding Professor and has won dozens of other awards and prizes for his teaching and research. 





Christopher Boyd Brown is Associate Professor of Church History at the Boston University School of Theology.  He holds the Ph.D. in History from Harvard University and the first degree in theology from Concordia Seminary, St Louis. 


His scholarly work focuses on the Reformation in its cultural context, including his book Singing the Gospel: Lutheran Hymns and the Success of the Reformation (Harvard University Press, 2005), and a volume forthcoming from Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht (with Margaret Arnold) on Art and the Artist in Early Lutheran Preaching: Inspiration, Vocation, and the Example of Albrecht Dürer.  His current research and writing is on wedding-preaching in early modern Europe.


A frequent participant and presenter in national and international conferences on the Reformation and Martin Luther, for instance the North American Luther Forum, the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, and he is an active member of the International Luther Congress, where he recently offered a seminar on “The Impact of Luther’s Hymns.”  


Dr. Brown is General Editor of the twenty-volume extension of Luther's Works being published by Concordia Publishing House, of which four volumes have now appeared. He is actively involved in other publishing projects making Luther’s works available in English for the modern global reader.



Karin Bohleke is currently the director of the Fashion Archives and museum at Shippensburg University, where she supervises a collection of over 20,000 items dating from the late eighteenth century through the twentieth.  She holds a Ph.D. in French language and literature from Yale University, and also serves as an assistant professor of French at Shippensburg as needed and was formerly an adjunct professor at Hood College in Frederick, MD, where she taught French, Russian, Classical Mythology, and Humanities for the graduate school.  In addition, she is an adjunct professor of French at Penn State-Mont Alto and serves as the Writing and Research Specialist at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  During the summers, she uses her linguistic abilities to catalogue the rare books in the collection of the A. R. Wentz Library.

An avid seamstress, embroiderer, tatter and lace-maker since early childhood, Karin augmented her studies of clothing styles by creating reproduction clothing when introduced to vintage ballroom and social dancing by her future husband Briant.  Together they teach Civil War and historic social dancing, proctor balls, and lecture and perform.




Refo500            Refo500            Refo500