Original Research

The 97 theses (04–05 September 1517): A precursor to the 95 theses (31 October 1517)?

Raymond Potgieter
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 1 | a2392 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i1.2392 | © 2018 Raymond Potgieter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2018 | Published: 29 November 2018

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Raymond Potgieter, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa

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While Martin Luther’s 95 theses engage theologians worldwide, little is made of the 97 theses. It is not often mentioned that these theses had appeared for an academic debate just a month before the 95 theses. A reason for this is that some scholars suggest that the 97 theses reflect a more scholastic approach to theology. This is no doubt true. However, the scholarly content of these theses reveal the challenges that Luther directed at certain Romish doctrines and practices of the day, challenging scholastic methodology. Scholars often engaged students and sometimes invited public participation to reflect and debate formulated theses. It is suggested that the content of the 97 theses served to stimulate Luther into formulating the more famous 95 theses. This article will reflect on the scholastic practice of formulating theses for the purposes of debate and give an overview of the theological content of the 97 theses. Another more comparative, study could pinpoint the more specific entrance of these theses into the formulation of the 95 theses.


Martin Luther; theses; 97 disputations; 97 theses; scholastics; scholasticism; 95 theses; scholastic method


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