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“The Luther Effect”

Artist unknown, Martin Luther im Kreise von Reformatoren (Martin Luther in the Circle of Reformers), ca. 1625–50, oil on panel, 26 5/8 × 35 3/8".

THE GLOBAL AMBITIONS of Christianity were ignited less than two months after the death of Jesus. When “cloven tongues like as of fire” appeared above their heads, the apostles acquired the ability to make themselves understood in any country. Reversing the myth of the destruction of the Tower of Babel, which pictured humankind scattered into linguistic plurality, the mission launched at Pentecost proposed to reunite the far-flung peoples within the Gospel. The apostle Andrew preached in Asia Minor and, according to legend, Georgia; James went to Spain; and Thomas voyaged as far as Madras, India, where he is buried.

“The Luther Effect: Protestantism—500 Years in the World,” an exhibition opening in Berlin in April, is one of many in Germany and beyond that will mark the five hundredth anniversary of the Augustinian monk Martin Luther’s challenge to the Roman Catholic Church.

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