Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Robert Rosin

Scripture References in this Resource

Matthew 28:19-20


Bode, Gerhard H. "Conrad Dieterich (1575-1639) and the Instruction of Luther's Small Catechism." Ph.D. Diss., St. Louis, MO: Concordia Seminary, 2005.350 pp.

Luther's catechisms have had a lasting impact on catechesis in the Lutheran church and are still widely used in Lutheran circles more than 475 years after Luther wrote them. Conrad Dieterich (1575-1639) wrote several catechisms based on Luther's Small Catechism that were widely used in Lutheran circles during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Two of Dieterich's works were intended for use by upper-level students in Latin schools and employed dialectical method in presenting the catechetical doctrine. The dissertation addresses one basic two-part question: first, what is the nature of the method Dieterich employs in his analysis and explanation of the teaching of Luther's catechism, and second, why does Dieterich exposit the catechism in this way? To answer these questions the dissertation sets the stage by reviewing Luther’s understanding of catechesis and the purposes for his catechisms. This is followed by aloo at Dieterich's life and career and a consideration of how his work fits in its theological and historical context. Dieterich's conception of the catechetical task is then discussed, followed by an examination of the method and content of his Latin catechisms. Finally, the impact of Dieterich's catechetical works is analyzed, with a survey of the manner in which schools and churches employed his books and the reasons why they stopped using them.

In his Latin textbooks on catechesis, Dieterich presents an eclectic approach combining elements from the dialectical methods of Aristotle and Petrus Ramus. This hybrid form consists mainly of Aristotelian doctrine presented according to the method and order of Ramus. To a large degree, the Aristotelian subject matter of Dieterich's dialectic is derived from Melanchthon’s system of logic found in his textbook, the Erotemata dialectices. The dissertation concludes that the idea of faith changes when the tool of dialectical method gets to be firmly fixed and becomes more than a tool, with the result that Dieterich's method has a distinct impact on the content and message of Luther's Small Catechism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.