1576 · Frankfurt a.M.
RARE FIRST GERMAN EDITION. This evaluation and rebuttal of the decrees of the Council of Trent was originally published in Latin in four volumes between 1566 and 1573. The work had ten more editions until the end of the century, and numerous reprints later, the last, dating from 1861 (Berlin). The work had greater impact, greater readership, and brought Chemnitz greater fame than anything else he produced in his life.
"The preparation of the Examen absorbed Chemnitz' leisure for the next nine years. By the end of March 1565 he had worked out the first part sufficiently to send it to a colleague in Frankfurt/M., Martin Ritter, with the request to find a publisher. On Christmas Eve of that year Chemnitz was still reading proof and finding 'manifold and most horrible errors'. The following spring the first part came out, dedicated to Duke Albert Frederick [of Prussia], the youthful son of Duke Albert the Elder. The second part followed in the same year, dedicated to Margrave John of Brandenburg-Cüstrin, after Chemnitz's friend, Duke Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, has refused the honor because of the military commitment of his father. The reigning Duke Henry, to the Roman Catholic party. In 1573 both the third part, dedicated to Elector John George of Brandenburg and the fourth and final part, dedicated to Duke Henry Julius of Brandenburg-Wolfenbüttel, the son of Duke Julius, who now reigned as a Lutheran in his deceased father's domains, came out. Part One is prefaced with a Narratio de Synodo Nicena versibus exposita… composed by Matthias Berg, headmaster of St. Catharine's School in Brunswick. The first part discusses the teachings about traditions, original sin, concupiscence, the word 'sin', the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the works of unbelievers, free will, justification by faith, and good works. The second part discusses the sacraments in general, Baptism, confirmation, the sacrament of the Eucharist, Communion under both appearances, the mass, penance, contrition, confession, satisfaction, extreme unction, the sacrament of orders and matrimony. The third part covers issues of virginity, priestly celibacy, purgatory, and the invocation of the saints. The fourth part continues the third, with sections on the relics of the saints, images, indulgences, fasting, the distinction of foods, and the feasts of the calendar" (A.C. Piepkorn, Martin Chemnitz Views on Trent: The Genesis and the Genius of the 'Examen Concilii Tridentini', in: "Concordia Theological Monthly", XXXVII/1, 1966, p.19)
"Two years after the Council of Trent between 1565 and 1573 Chemnitz began to release an examination of its decrees, an examination which Arthur Olsen [cf. Martin Chemnitz and the Council of Trent, in: "Dialog", 2, 1963, pp. 60-67] has dubbed, 'the most thorough and influential Protestant response ever made to Trent'. Preus [op. cit. below] lauds it 'one of the greatest theological masterpieces ever produced in Lutheranism'. One cannot deny its significance for its day. It saw twenty-five editions and underwent translation into German by Georg Nigrinus in 1576, English in 1582 and French. And while Calvin may have been the first to respond, it was Chemnitz's work that consumed Catholic apologists for decades" (J.R.A. Merrick, 'Sola scriptura' and the 'regula fidei': the Reformation scripture principle and early oral tradition in Martin Chemnitz's 'Examination of the Council of Trent', in: "Scottish Journal of Theology", 63/3, 2010, pp. 264).
The translator, Georg Nigrinus (Schwartz, 1530-1602), Lutheran theologian,was born in Battenberg (Hassia), studied at Kassel and Marburg, became a school rector and pastor in Gießen and later amoderator (Superintendent) in Alsfeld. He excelled as prolific translator (e.g. of Innocent Gentillet's Anti-Macchiavell, 1580) and was polemically active on the side of Fischart against Johannes Nas and wrote also several anti-Calvinistic tracts (cf. A.F.C. Vilmar, Georg Nigrinus, in: "Zeitschrift des Vereins für Hessische Geschichte und Landeskunde, 3, (1843) pp. 814-817 and H. de Boor & R. Newald, Geschichte der deutschen Literatur, Berlin, 1967, V, p. 120).
If Martin Luther is considered the greatest theologian of the Lutheran Church, then Martin Chemnitz is without a doubt our second greatest Lutheran Father. Chemnitz is certainly deserving of the title "the Second Martin", and was the primary bulwark of orthodox Lutheran theology in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Born in Treuenbrietzen in Brandenburg to Paul and Euphemia Chemnitz, was the last of three children. His father was a successful merchant, who died when Martin was eleven: thereafter, the family suffered from financial difficulties. When he was old enough, Martin matriculated in Magdeburg. Upon completion of the course work, he became a weaver's apprentice. He helped his family with its clothing business for the next few years. When he was 20, he resumed his education at the University of Frankfurt (Oder). He remained in school until his finances were exhausted; he then took a teaching job in the town of Wriezen, supplementing his income by collecting the local sales tax on fish. His time at Frankfurt gave him the basic tools to continue his education on his own, researching areas in which he was interested and applying his naturally inquisitive mind to problems that others had worried over in the past. In 1545 Chemnitz accompanied his cousin Georg Sabinus to school in Wittenberg. Because Chemnitz lacked sufficient academic preparation, Melanchthon recommended that he studied the scientific branches of the liberal arts (which made him a life-long expert in astrology). Because of Luther's death and political events, Chemnitz transferred to the University of Königsberg. He there graduated in the first class with a Master of Arts degree (1548). However, a plague soon infested the town, so he left quickly for Saalfeld. When he judged it safe, Chemnitz returned to Königsberg in 1550, where he was employed by Albert, Duke of Prussia, as the court librarian. In return for caring for the library and teaching a few courses as a tutor, he had unrestricted access to what was then considered one of the finest libraries in Europe. Chemnitz moved back to Wittenberg in 1553 as a guest of Melanchthon. In January 1554 he joined the Wittenberg University faculty. He lectured on Melanchthon's Loci Communes, from which lectures he compiled his own Loci Theologici, a system of theology. He was ordained to the ministry on November 25, 1554 by Johannes Bugenhagen, and became co-adjutor of Joachim Mörlin, who was ecclesiastical superintendent for the duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. When Mörlin resigned in 1567, Chemnitz became his successor; he held the post for the rest of his life. Through his leadership, Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was brought firmly into Lutheranism. There he helped his prince, Duke Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, establish the University of Helmstedt (1575–76). With Jakob Andreae, David Chytraeus, Nicholas Selnecker, Andrew Musculus and others, Chemnitz took part in a centrist movement that brought agreement among German Lutherans in the writing and publication of the Formula of Concord (1577), of which Chemnitz is one of the primary authors. He was instrumental in the publication of the definitive Book of Concord in 1580, the doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church. The learning of Chemnitz was something colossal, but it had no tinge of pedantry. His judgment was of the highest order. His modesty and simplicity, his clearness of thought, and his luminous style, his firmness in principle, and his gentleness in tone, the richness of his learning and the vigor of his thinking, have revealed themselves in such measure in his Loci, his Books on the Two Natures of our Lord, and On the True Presence, in his Examen of the Council of Trent, his Defence of the Formula of Concord, and his Harmony of the Gospels, as to render each a classic in its kind, and to mark their author as the greatest theologian of his time (cf. J.A. Preus, The Second Martin: The Life and Theology of Martin Chemnitz, St. Louis, MO, 1994, passim; T. Kaufmann, Martin Chemnitz, 1522-1586, in: "Melanchthon in seinen Schülern", H. Scheible, ed., Wiesbaden, 1997, pp. 183-253).
VD 16, C-2175; Index Aureliensis 136.222; R. Mumm, Die Polemik des Martin Chemnitz gegen das Konzil von Trient, (Naumburg a.S., 1905), p. 91; K. Schottenloher, Bibliographie zur deutschen Geschichte im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung, 1517-1585, (Stuttgart 1956-1966), no. 43218e. (Inventory #: 53)