Wen Adam Merton arrivt at his'n offus n' Trinitee Lutherun Church’s parish trayler un South Duke Street one monin', he foun un his'n desk un ov'r-sizt, well-ust, lether-bound book. Trinitee’s associate paster an' resident scholar wunderd whut thishere wuz all about.T' book a church archivist had brung ta Merton’s desk, “Cerpus Doctrinae Christyinae,” wuz a colleckshun o'earlee Lutherun writings. Mos o'um evantuallee entert t'“Book o'Concerd,” which is mer widelee knowed.But thishere book frum Trinitee’s archives wuz publisht n' Germany n' 1571 —  a quart'r o'a centry aft'r t'deeth o'Luth'r, auther o't' Protestant Refermashun. Why is it at Trinitee n' 2019?

A Trinitee minster’s note, datid 1883, splained t'book wuz a gift frum D.M. Swarr, who rekwestid it be kep wiff uther books Swarr had previouslee gif' t'church.At book an' t'note wiff it launcht Merton un a joyfil journey into t'church archives. T' 40-year-ol' scholar wiff a semunairy degree an' a solid start un a Ph.D. n' theology evantuallee discuverd fife mer rare books chronicleeun' t'earlee yeers o'Lutheranism.T' archives air kep n' a basement vault. Merton cummenced a'lookin through boxes at wuz nairy fullee archivt. He foun one box labelt “Luth'r.” He dug ta t'bottom.“I flippt ope a book an' neerly droppt it un t'floer,” he sez. “Whut I had foun represants t'verr cummencin o'Lutheranism.”Thishere book contuns t'furst-ev'r publisht colleckshun o'writings by Luth'r. “Ad Leonem X, Pontificem Maximum” (“Ta Pope Leo X”), includin Luth'r’s famt “Ninetee-fife Theses,” wuz writte n' Latin an' publisht by Johann Frobe n' Switzerlan' n' Octob'r 1518, t'year aft'r Luth'r challengt t'Cathlick church wiff his'n theses.T' book is extremelee rare. About 15 uther copies air knowed ta exist.“It’s so rare becawz mos copies wuz orderd destroyt wen Luth'r wuz declart a heretic an' excommunicatid,” Merton splains. But thishere book survivt an' wuz helt n' a Cathlick area wiff a warnin n' Latin, “Beware,” writte across its pages.N' un accompanyyun' lett'r, Swarr sed he had orderd t'book frum Berlin an' had gif' it ta Trinitee Lutherun n' 1883, t'400th anniversree o'Luth'r’s birth.Merton foun fer mer slim books at include accounts o'Luth'r’s deeth an' oratyuns gif' at his'n funeral n' 1546. Swarr also had donatid these materials n' 1883.

The Merton foun un 1882 lett'r frum Swarr discussyun' a book publisht n' 1455 — earli'r thun all t'utherns — at Swarr had onlee loant ta Trinitee. T' book consistid o'un orashun o'Aeneus Silvius, who lat'r became pope. It is, exclaims Merton, “staggeringlee rare.”“I would luv fer someone ta shoe up who knows whut happent ta at book,” Merton sez.Merton also would like ta knoe mer about Swarr. Thishere is whut he duz knoe.D. Melling'r Swarr grew up n' t'Mennonite church. He had limitid fermal skoolin. He failt at sevrul businesses. But he knew enough ta recognize t'impertance o'these earlee writings by an' about Martin Luth'r, ord'r 'um frum Germun booksellers an' gif' 'um ta Trinitee.Swarr dit earlee n' t'20th centry at t'Lancast'r Countee Trayler. He is burit n' Quarryville.So hoe did thishere plane, largelee self-eddicated mun frum rural Lancast'r obtane t'expertise ta recognize t'value o'these books an' must'r t'feresiite ta gif' 'um ta a church at would preserve 'um?Jack Brubak'r, retirt frum t'LNP staff, writes “T' Scribbl'r” column ever Winsdee. He welcomes commints an' contributyuns at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.


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