"Olavus Petri" - Part I



    The Lutheran Journal, Vol. 58, #3, 1989 - Erwin Weber


When Luther received his doctor's degree in 1512 and the professorship of Old and New Testament studies was turned over to him at the university in Wittenberg, his fame as a teacher began to spread. As a result, he attracted more and more from all over Europe. At times, hundreds of students would attend Luther's lectures. When these students returned to their homeland, the Reformation began to spread and take root.

One such student attending Luther's lectures was Olavus Petri. He became one of Luther's disciples. Petri was primarily responsible for the Reformation in Sweden. It would not have been possible without the support of Gustav Vasa, the king of Sweden. Petri gave Sweden the first translation of the New Testament into Swedish in 1526, the first Swedish Postil and Catechism in 1530, the first Church Book in 1531, and the Swedish Psalm Book in 1536.

This article deals with Petri's early life in Orebro, the place of his birth on January 6, 1493. Orebro is located in the rich iron ore province of Narke. The article continues with Petri's studies at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and his studies at the University of Leipzig, Germany where he was dissatisfied and went to Wittenberg University to study theology under Dr. Martin Luther. Part I concludes when Petri received his master's degree and returned to Sweden.

My cover photo, courtesy Lutherhalle-Wittenberg, shows a woodcut of the Castle Church in Wittenberg by Cranach the Elder, 1509. The Castle Church was the church of the university. This is what Petri saw when he studied in Wittenberg. Notice the wooden sidewalks leading to the portals of the sanctuary. Luther posted the 95 thesis on the center portal.