Catechisms

In 1529 Martin Luther published two separate catechisms which appeared in both Latin- and German-language editions: Der Grosse Katechismus, or the Large Catechism intended for pastors and preachers, and Der Kleine Katechismus, or the Small Catechism for students and others beginning their religious education. Both of these pedagogical works provided easily accessible instructional and devotional material on the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.  Luther had previously remarked on the need for a “plain and simple, fair and square catechism” and specifically noted that the Decalogue, the Creed, and the Lords Prayer “plainly and briefly contain exactly everything that a Christian needs to know.”

Conceived as an important tool for teaching, learning, and understanding Christian doctrine, Luther perceived catechisms as texts for youth and adults to read and consult on a continuing basis. In the introduction to the Large Catechism, he described his personal experience: “I am also a doctor and preacher, as learned and experienced as all those may be who have such presumption and security. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism, and every morning, and whenever I have time, I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lords Prayer, the Psalms, etc. And I must still read and study daily, and yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and am glad so to remain.”