Amsdorf, Nikolaus von

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Lutheran theologian and bishop, important for the early organization of Protestantism; b. probably Torgau, Dec. 3, 1483; d. Eisenach, May 14, 1565. Amsdorf received his M.A. at the University of Wittenberg and lectured there on philosophy and theology. When Luther arrived at Wittenberg, the two became close friends and coworkers, Amsdorf assisting in the translation of the Bible. Amsdorf became an evangelical preacher in Magdeburg, Goslar, Einbeck, Meissen, and elsewhere. In 1542 Elector John Frederick appointed him first bishop of the Lutheran diocese of Naumburg-Zeitz (154247), a post that he lost at the outset of the schmalkaldic War. After a period in Weimar, he lived in Eisenach from 1552 until his death, the unofficial leader of the Lutherans there. He was unwavering in holding to a conservative Lutheran position in theology and was instrumental in founding the University of Jena, a Lutheran stronghold.

See Also: gnesiolutheranism; interims; confessions of faith.

Bibliography: Ausgewählte Schriften, ed. o. lerche (Gütersloh 1938). o. lerche, Amsdorf und Melanchthon: Eine kirchengeschichtliche Studie (Berlin 1937). p. brunner, Nikolaus von Amsdorf als Bischof von Naumburg (Gütersloh 1961). f. lau, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 195765) 1:333334.

[l. w. spitz]