May 17, 1844: German biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen is born. His controversial theory about the Pentateuch—that it is a compilation of four literary sources (J, Jahwist; E, Elohist; D, Deuteronomist; and P, Priestly Editor), laid the foundation for most subsequent Old Testament criticism.
May 17, 1971: The musical Godspell, based on Matthew's gospel, opens at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York.
February 18, 1546: German reformer Martin Luther dies in Eisleben. In one of his pockets he had placed the beginning of a projected manuscript against Roman Catholics. In another pocket was a slip of paper reminding him, "We are beggars, that's the truth" (see issue 39: Luther's Later Years).
February 18, 1564: Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Italian Renaissance artist whose works include the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, dies.
February 18, 1678: Puritan preacher John Bunyan publishes The Pilgrim's ...