Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies,
Professor of History and Theology
Arts and Sciences Building, Room 354
B.A. – Wheaton College
M.T.S. – Regent College
Ph.D. – Harvard University
- The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Harvard University Press, 2004)
- The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- The Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Hebrews and James (Intervarsity Press, 2017)
Professor Rittgers joined the VU faculty in the fall of 2006 after having taught for seven years at Yale University. He is the first occupant of the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies and also serves as Professor of History and Theology.
Professor Rittgers is interested in the history of theology, devotion, and culture in medieval and Reformation Europe. He teaches introductory courses on the Christian Tradition and offers more specialized ones on the Reformation, Martin Luther, Christian Spirituality, and Historiography (the history of historical enquiry). Additionally, he teaches courses on themes such as forgiveness and skepticism, and will be developing courses on the Renaissance and the history of self-knowledge.
His first book examined how the Lutheran version of private confession shaped the politics and piety of the German Reformation. It was entitled The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Harvard University Press, 2004). His second book, The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford University Press, 2012), examines the efforts of Protestant reformers to change the way their contemporaries understood and coped with suffering. His third book (forthcoming), The Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Hebrews and James (Intervarsity Press, 2017), provides excerpts from Reformation sources on the New Testament books of Hebrews and James along with an introduction and explanatory comments and overviews. In the future, Prof. Rittgers will work on the reception of mysticism in the Reformation and on grief and consolation in early modern Europe.
Professor Rittgers has received research grants from the German Academic Exchange Service, the Lilly Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. He was recently elected to the presidency of the American Society of Church History, the oldest and most prestigious scholarly organization for historians of Christianity in North America.
Professor Rittgers is married and has three sons. He enjoys hiking, cycling, soccer, spending time with his family, and watching Star Trek re-runs.
Medieval and Early Modern/Reformation Europe