Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 29 April 2017

Martin Luther’s Life, 1526–1546

Summary and Keywords

Luther’s life in the years after 1525 was relatively placid in comparison to the turbulence he experienced between the posting of the Ninety-Five Theses and his marriage to Katharina von Bora in 1525. To be sure, there were events and controversies aplenty, and many of them impacted the circumstances of his daily life, altered or sharpened the focus of his theological work, and influenced the shape his movement would take after his death. He remained to the end a central figure in both church and civil affairs, supporting the evangelical reform of the European churches and offering his advice—and his criticism—to any who would listen. Limitations on his travel resulting from the Edict of Worms made him a sideline player at the Augsburg Diet of 1530, but he contributed crucially to Evangelical identity through his two catechisms of 1529, as well as the Smalcald Articles he wrote to define and defend Evangelical faith and practice. The elder Luther also assumed a leading role in Wittenberg’s university. He was its most famous professor as well as its most powerfully creative thinker. In 1535 he became dean of its faculty as well. As dean, he presided over a number of important disputations dealing with such issues as ecclesiology, Christology, and the doctrine of the Trinity. He also remained little Wittenberg’s most famous and influential person, eclipsing in many ways even his own prince electors. People of low status and high sought out Dr. Luther for advice of every kind. Informally, he became a powerful patron. Luther continued as well to lecture and publish theological works during this period, notably biblical “commentaries” (typically based on classroom lectures), a treatise on the church and one on the papacy, and a harsh series of treatises against the Jews. He remained the most influential contributor to Evangelical self-understanding, opposing, for example, both the Anti-trinitarian thinkers outside his movement (Servetus, Campanus) and the antinomian thinkers within it (Agricola). The German Bible translation project he had begun at the Wartburg resulted at last in the complete “Luther Bible” (1534). Together with a team of colleagues he dubbed “my Sanhedrin,” he continued to work on this project, with the last revised edition appearing in 1545. Notwithstanding the abiding apocalyptic angst and increasing world weariness that frequently marked the works of his later years, his theological vitality continued largely unabated. The elder Luther was not content merely to repeat the settled truths he had discovered in his youth, but continued to “shake every tree” in the great forest of Scripture in his quest to know God rightly and serve him faithfully. As Luther moved into his fifties and sixties he also suffered from a steadily debilitating complex of interrelated health issues. His death at age sixty-two on February 18, 1546, left his movement without its charismatic leader and thus vulnerable to both external political attack and internal theological division. Contrary to Saxon legal practice, he designated Katharina his sole heir.

Keywords: Martin Luther, Katharina von Bora, Catechism, antinomianism, anti-trinitarianism, Augsburg Confession, Smalcald Articles, Wittenberg Concord, Lectures on Genesis, Philip of Hesse

Married Life, Home, and Family

It is perhaps surprising to learn that Luther continued to wear the Augustinian habit until 1524, divesting himself of it less than a year before his marriage to Katharina von Bora in 1525.1 Forty-two at the time of the marriage and accustomed to life in the all-male community of the Augustinian house, he found himself no longer cloistered away as a religious and adjusting instead to married life.2 He humorously noted the new experience of “pigtails on the pillow” next to him.3 The home he shared with “meyne Kethe” soon became a bustling center of family life. On June 7, 1526, just a year after their nuptials, Martin and Katharina welcomed into the world their firstborn, a son they named Johannes (Hans), after Luther’s father. In the coming years, Katharina would bring forth five more children: Elisabeth, who was born in December 1527 but died less than a year later; Magdalena, born in May 1529, who died aged thirteen in 1542, an occasion of profound grief for her parents;4 Martin, born in November 1531; Paul, born in late January 1533; and Margarete, born in December 1534. Katharina also suffered a miscarriage in 1540, which she took some time to recover from.5 The home in which Luther lived and worked after 1525 was far different from the monastic life he led beforehand.

Katharina seems to have been a particularly well-suited partner for Luther’s strong personality, and they shared a deep love. She also proved not to be the kind of woman to cower before her husband. On the contrary, she was self-confident and assertive, even if in public she honored her husband by continuing to use the formal “you” (Sie) when addressing him.6 She was also an industrious woman who took care of nearly all the family business, including a small farm in Zühlsdorf, which they purchased in 1540. Their home, the former Augustinian cloister, became a boarding house as well as a family residence. Luther good-naturedly recognized her domestic superiority in his letters to her, where he called her not only “Katie, my rib,” but also “Domina mea” (“my lord,” using the Latin feminine), and even as “Dominus meus,” conceding to her superiority and bestowing on her the gravitas of the Latin masculine.7

The radically altered circumstances of Luther’s daily life left a deep impression on him, and he adapted quickly to his new life setting. Marriage and fatherhood impacted his theology as well. Birgit Stolt has documented across Luther’s long career a penchant for the language of the heart in describing the experiences of the believer in relationship to God.8 This was enhanced by the breakthroughs Luther made in developing his evangelical understanding of the gospel, which revealed a gracious God and Father.9 Luther’s marriage to Katharina and the experience of fatherhood left a mark on his understanding of God’s paternal love.

Luther’s experience of a life shared with an intelligent and willful wife also clearly altered his vision for the world’s original order as it had been during those few hours or days between the original creation and the temptation and fall into sin. In his 1523 interpretation of the story told in Genesis 3, offered in a series of sermons before he was married, Luther remarked somewhat chauvinistically on Eve’s dialogue with the serpent. The “little woman,” he surmised, was out of place and out of her depth, engaging in an illicit conversation.10 Like many biblical expositors before him, the younger Luther imagined that the devil had attacked the human race through its weakest link.11 But in 1535 he portrayed Eve prior to the fall as a “heroic woman who does things like a man,”12 her husband’s equal in mental and spiritual gifts even if different and inferior to him in bodily constitution.13 Eve’s subjection to Adam’s dominion, therefore, followed as a consequence of the fall, rather than as a reflection of the original order.14 The rule of one person over another thus originated in fallen Adam’s rule over his wife. Thus, the elder Luther sometimes described the state, in typically hyperbolic terms, as a “kingdom of sin.”15

Developments such as these suggest that marriage changed Luther both as a man and as a theologian. Martin and Katharina also pioneered the Protestant parsonage. Their love and mutual respect in the context of Luther’s own continued devotion to church, ministry, and theology also showed that a good pastor could be a good husband and father as well.16 Thus Luther became one of the first theologians to teach and preach out of the lived experience of a household shared with wife and children.

Beyond that, Luther’s transition from the “religious” life of the tonsured friar to the “secular” life of parish priest and professor was accompanied by a rethinking that enabled him to reframe the secular/religious distinction altogether. As one sees in his doctrine of the “three estates” (Dreiständelehre), Luther came to believe the monastic life is not superior to life in the world.17 On the contrary, home and society are the created orders into which human life was originally set; they are therefore the divinely ordained proving grounds for faith. In agreement with long Christian tradition, however, Luther insisted that self-denial—asceticism—of a certain kind is intrinsic to the Christian life well lived. The renunciation of this world takes place, however, not in the monastery but in the home. The man who binds himself to one woman (or vice versa) in marriage soon finds himself a house father with worldly cares aplenty. The crosses of the married life, which was previously understood as a secular life, are for the elder Luther the divinely ordained arena within which one renounces one’s own desires and preferences and dedicates oneself to the service of spouse, family, and home.18 Honest work in this world, too, takes on a religious dignity. The work of the housewife, the baker, the cobbler, or the farmer is no longer relegated to a second-class religious status. Instead, work in this world is the believer’s vocation, as it was for Adam and Eve (with the proviso, of course, that after the fall one labors “by the sweat of the brow”). The Christian at work in service to family, neighbor, and the common good cooperates with God in the preservation of this world, and her witness and care for others makes Christ present in the world.19 Worldly endeavors thus take on a religious character in the elder Luther’s thought, a stance that is probably best understood not as a first step toward secularization but instead as a new theological foundation for the Christianization of home and society.20

Establishing the Evangelical Reforms

In his Address to the Nobility of 1520, Luther called for the princes to carry out the reform of the churches in their territories. In the mid-1520s he also frequently expressed concern about improving the pay of pastors in Ernestine Saxony,21 and in 1527 he spoke out forcefully about the expropriation of church properties by the nobility.22 After the death of the Elector Frederick the Wise, his brother and successor, Duke John, finally agreed to an official visitation to the Saxon churches, in order to see to their financial stability and proper functioning. The jurist Jerome Schurf and master Philip Melanchthon were appointed to address these two areas of concern. Published in 1529, Melanchthon’s Instructions for Visitors of Parish Pastors in Electoral Saxony provided the broad vision for a church reformed along evangelical lines.

The cooperation this work required between Professors Luther and Melanchthon and the elector’s representatives led Electoral Saxony toward a centralized ministry of ecclesial oversight as opposed to a local one, and this in turn gave the territorial sovereign a leading role in the administration of the churches in the region. One should be cautious, however, about overstating the consequences of the new church-state configurations emerging in early Protestantism. In Luther’s time, for example, Duke George in neighboring Albertine Saxony also took a keen interest in his Catholic churches (in part as an effort to offset the reforms taking place in Ernestine Saxony), and he too played a leading role in efforts to improve his churches.”23 Following the visitations, the Ernestine Saxon churches were divided into four districts, and a new order of worship was also instituted, thus advancing the church reform along evangelical lines.

Luther’s two catechisms, the Small Catechism and the German, or Large Catechism, also derive from these years, and they surely should be counted among his most influential works. In 1528, Luther preached a series of catechetical sermons,24 which eventually became the catechisms. The Small Catechism was eminently practical. Initially, it offered short and memorable explanations of the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the sacraments. Very soon thereafter, other elements were added: a form of morning and evening prayer and grace at meals, a table of duties, an explanation of baptism, Luther’s “marriage book,” and a short form for confession. This classic work, in short, provided a comprehensive manual for the Christian life. The Large Catechism, on the other hand, was addressed to pastors and preachers, those charged with teaching the faith. Divided into five parts—the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the sacrament of baptism, and the sacrament of the altar—it went into detail sufficient to serve the needs of the catechists.25 Luther’s lengthy treatment of the Ten Commandments here probably reflects the “antinomian” controversy between Melanchthon and John Agricola, which first began to smolder during the visitations.26

The question of Luther’s contribution to church reform has in recent times been vexed. Oberman—displeased with any too-easy invocation of Luther as “der Reformator”—denied that Luther understood himself as such. On the contrary, he insisted, Luther saw himself as a prophet raised up by God at the end of the age, when the final act in the titanic struggle between God and the devil was being played out.27 Kittelson, however, noted that regardless of whether Luther called himself a “reformer,” he put great effort into reforming the churches. He could even be characterized as a “church bureaucrat.”28 Likewise, Spitz objected to the interpretation of Luther as “a cultural freak-out caught between God and Satan expecting momentary eschatological doom.” Instead, he argued, Luther should be seen as “a university professor and a family man, confident of God’s love for man and looking to the future of mankind on this earth and in this life as well as in the life to come.”29 Perhaps it suffices simply to affirm that Luther was both dedicated to the amelioration of the churches and highly aware of his own crucial role in the unfolding of the world’s last days, and that he seemed to sense no contradiction between the two. Here one can confirm the wisdom of the legend according to which Luther once said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree.” Luther’s apocalyptic meliorism underscores the cogency of Maxfield’s recognition that the elder Luther had developed an imminent sense of the Parousia, which put him in the good company of the apostles and early church fathers.30

Confessor of the Faith

After 1521, Luther’s travels were limited by the imperial ban that had been pronounced against him at Worms in 1521. The Second Diet of Speyer (1529) had ruled that this edict should be enforced, which left the princes aligned with Luther’s program of reform, including his own Duke John, in a vulnerable position. For his part, Luther could be protected by the evangelical princes only so long as he remained within their territories. In 1530, therefore, Luther was unable to be present at the Diet of Augsburg when the evangelical princes had their confession of faith—the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana)—read out before the emperor. The task of drafting the document instead fell primarily to Melanchthon.

Luther meanwhile was sequestered at the nearby fortress in Coburg. He had been involved beforehand in developing the Schwabach Articles (1529), as well as those drawn up at the Marburg Colloquy (1529). Still, he had only an indirect role at Augsburg in 1530, and the confession drawn up there was mostly Melanchthon’s work. Still, Luther praised and accepted it. Controversies arose among Luther’s followers only later when Melanchthon made changes to the confession. Still, in both the invariata (“unaltered version”) and the variata (“altered version”), the Augsburg Confession even today remains a defining statement of evangelical faith.

When, however, in 1537 the need again arose for a confession of evangelical faith, Luther took the lead. Pope Paul III had called for a church council to be held in Mantua. For their part, the evangelical princes had formed a defensive alliance, the Schmalkaldic League, in order to protect themselves against possible imperial action against them. The so-called Smalcald Articles are Luther’s work, although the other evangelical theologians in attendance when they were presented also signed them.31 Luther’s way of presenting the evangelical case is important. His first articles state that the doctrines of God the Holy Trinity and the two natures in the one Person of Christ the Lord (together with the perpetual virginity of Mary) were “kept pure” under the papacy. The disagreements between the evangelicals and the Roman Church do not have to do with these doctrines, on which there was already agreement. The points at issue, rather, concern justification by faith alone, the notion that the pope rules in the church “by divine right” (de iure divino), the sacrifice of the Mass, and other related issues. While the first articles on Trinity and Christology suggest a broad region of theological agreement, the latter articles, written in a sharply polemical style, suggest hard ecumenical slogging. The expected council at Mantua, however, did not materialize. These articles’ later inclusion in the Book of Concord (1580) made them an important statement of evangelical Lutheran faith, but they did not achieve the widespread usage or official status of the Augsburg Confession, particularly after the latter document became an accepted legal standard in the empire following the Religious Peace of Augsburg in 1555.

An opportunity also arose late in Luther’s life for agreement with the Roman Church in the doctrine of justification. Under an ecumenical leadership including the evangelical theologians Philip Melanchthon and Martin Bucer and the Catholics Johannes Gropper, John Eck, and Gasparo Contarini, an effort was made to heal the widening breach between Protestants and Catholics at the Regensburg Diet in 1541. The effort failed, although participants did reach agreement on justification. For his part, however, Luther rejected it, first as a patchwork of Protestant and Catholic teachings and later because it did not include a denial of the notion that faith justifies through love.32


Luther was frequently involved in controversy, but he was much more than a controversialist. In broadest terms, he saw himself as raised up into a prominent public position—which he had not sought and did not want—and called to give witness to the gospel within a church that, as he had come to understand it, had not only falsified but also persecuted it. To understand the urgency of the situation as Luther saw it, one should recall how deeply he had been touched by the execution of the two evangelical Augustinian friars in Brussels in 1523. The tensions and the stakes in Luther’s controversies were very high, as his own experience at Worms in 1521 had confirmed. Luther’s public face, therefore, is often that of the enraged and sometimes outrageous defender of the truth against all who oppose it, including the papists and the enthusiasts, as well as the sacramentarians, anti-trinitarians, antinomians, and, perhaps most unfortunately, the Jews. In defense of that truth he deployed all his intellect and energy, as well as every rhetorical tool in his arsenal. He had been attacked in his person, and he too used the ad hominem argument when it suited him, insulting his opponents’ learning or morals and belittling them with sarcasm and a biting wit. As he continued in this manner for many years, he even came to recognize himself as a warrior on behalf of Christ and his gospel.

On the other hand, Luther had a well-earned reputation as a peacemaker and insightful counselor, especially among his friends and closest evangelical colleagues. His many hundreds of letters of pastoral and spiritual counsel abundantly establish the point. Philip Melanchthon, on the other hand, has often been portrayed as the irenic face of the Lutheran Reformation. The controversies that bedeviled the Lutheran Reformation after Luther’s death, however, suggest just how deep some of the differences between Melanchthon and others ran. It was Luther himself who for a time, and at the cost of considerable time and effort, kept peace within the Lutheran ranks. More than that, the purpose of his last journey, in the course of which he died, was to mediate a dispute between the dukes of Mansfeld. Although Luther was perhaps not so conspicuously engaged in peacemaking as in polemics, one does well to remember that there are two sides to this story.

The Lord’s Supper and the Swiss/South German Reformers

Luther’s penchant for launching withering and not infrequently personal attacks on theologians with whom he disagreed is perhaps best epitomized in his highly polemical exchanges with the Swiss reformer of Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli, during the later 1520s. While the controversy at times devolved to the level of the ad hominem, Luther and Zwingli agreed that the issues about which they argued were weighty. The Wittenbergers thought Zwingli had been influenced by Karlstadt, with whom they had suffered a painful break, but Zwingli’s approach to the Lord’s Supper was his own. After 1524, he was influenced by the letter of Cornelius Hoen,33 which argued for the translation of the Latin “est” in the crucial phrase “Hoc est corpus meum” (This is my body) with “significat.” Thus, “Take and eat. This signifies my body.” Zwingli also insisted on the applicability of John 6:63, “The flesh profits nothing”; he applied the ethos of Erasmian spiritualism, which tended to look within to find the believer’s communion with Christ. His teaching proved unacceptable to Luther, both theologically and, perhaps more importantly, in terms of Luther’s piety and practice of the Lord’s Supper. Between 1526 and 1528, three publications on this controversy appeared under Luther’s name, all in answer to works produced by Zwingli or his associate in nearby Basel, Johann Oecolampadius. The first, “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, Against the Fanatics,”34 was based on a series of sermons and seems to have been published without Luther’s permission. The second, “That These Word of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ Still Stand Firm against the Fanatics,”35 came out in early 1527, and the last, the “Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper,”36 appeared a year later. In these works, Luther defined and defended his realistic understanding of the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the bread and wine of the sacrament, over against the memorialist interpretation developed by Zwingli and Oecolampadius.

One of the most controversial elements in Luther’s theology of this sacrament is the notion of the ubiquity of the human nature of the incarnate God-man, Jesus Christ. As Luther saw the matter, the attributes of the divine nature of Christ are communicated to the human nature of Christ so that his body, too, shares in the divine omnipresence. Thus, Christ’s body and blood can be present on many altars at the same time. Problematically, this seemed to suggest that Christ’s body and blood are somehow everywhere all of the time. On the one hand, then, Luther was content to stand with the word of Christ, “This is my body.” At the same time, however, he drew on medieval philosophy and rhetorical theory to defend his position. The divine presence, he argued, is qualitatively different from the presence of a physical object. The “repletive presence” by which God fills all things cannot be understood as a variety of the “local presence” by which created things are where they are, and nowhere else. The fullness of the divine presence by which God pervades all things belongs also to Jesus Christ by virtue of the union of the two natures—divine and human—in his one person. Thus, he is everywhere, so Luther, but present in his body and blood in a saving way when and where he wills, that is, through the sacraments, and especially in the Lord’s Supper. For understanding Luther’s own deep commitment to the reality of Christ’s presence in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, his determined opposition to the Swiss is a reminder that in this matter as in many others he took an extrinsicist approach, so to speak, as opposed to the spiritualism reflected in the Swiss doctrine. For Luther, the body and blood of Christ, like the righteousness of faith given through the proclamation of the Word, always originates outside us (extra nos). The Lord’s Supper is grounded in Christ’s testament, that is, his own sure word and promise.

With this background in mind, the failure of the Marburg Colloquy of 1529 over Luther’s insistence on the reality of Christ’s presence in the sacrament is hardly surprising. In the Wittenberg Concord of 1536, however, after the sudden deaths of both Zwingli and Oecolampadius in 1531, he did reach an agreement on this issue with the Swiss and south German reformers.37 The signers of this agreement included Luther and Melanchthon as well as Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito, two men who had made common cause with Zwingli in the 1520s. The agreement itself, however, was short-lived, primarily because of opposition in southern Germany and Switzerland.


Internal controversy also broke out in the later 1530s over the teaching of Luther’s former student, good friend, and colleague John Agricola. Agricola, like Luther, came from Eisleben—hence he was called “Master Eisleben.” Beginning in 1527 with the Saxon visitations, Agricola expressed discontent with Melanchthon’s emphasis on the duty of ministers to teach the law.38 Luther developed a compromise statement agreeable to each of the two men. But the controversy broke out once more after Agricola relocated back to Wittenberg from Eisleben in 1536, when he preached that the wrath of God was revealed through the gospel rather than through the law. The dispute was intensified by the tendency of Agricola’s opponents to identify his teaching with that of Thomas Münzer, which brought to the controversy a whiff of sedition, even though Agricola explicitly affirmed the political use of the law. More than that, it also seemed as if Agricola had correctly understood the younger Luther’s thought. Agricola had been present, after all, when Luther publicly burned the books of canon law at the Ulster Gate in 1520. The debate over the place of the law in the life of the Christian may therefore be understood as an important step in the maturation of Luther’s movement, where elements of the tradition that had been rejected in the Reformation’s heady early days sometimes had to be reappropriated, not least the traditions of law.39

Despite Luther’s efforts to develop an amicable resolution of this controversy, events culminated at last in a series of disputations written by Luther himself in which Agricola’s antinomian position was decisively rejected.40 The careful balancing of the demands of the law with the good news of the gospel developed during these years helped make the proper distinction of law and gospel an abiding identifier of the Lutheran theological tradition.


The destabilizing effect of Luther’s critique of church teaching often led others into criticisms of traditional doctrines and practices that went far beyond Luther’s own. The anti-trinitarian movement that began in the 1530s is a clear case in point. John Campanus, who had been present at the Marburg Colloquy in 1529,41 and Michael Servetus, a Spaniard whose anti-trinitarian views eventually led him to the stake, are both mentioned by name in Luther’s treatise “Against the Antinomians” of 1529. Campanus’s view of the godhead is also explicitly rejected in the article 1 of the Augsburg Confession, where it is identified with the “adoptionist” or “dynamic” monarchianism of Paul of Samosata.42 Thus it is not surprising to find that some of the later promotion disputations presided over by Dr. Luther addressed questions related to the Trinity. These formal academic exercises demonstrate that the elder Luther wanted his students to be able to understand and defend Trinitarian doctrine by means of traditional syllogistic reasoning.43 Growing concern about anti-trinitarianism may also explain in part Luther’s readiness to make common cause with the Roman Church on matters of Trinity and Christology in his Smalcald Articles, as noted above.

The Jews

Perhaps no series of writings during Luther’s later years is more vexed and painful than those written against the Jews:44 Wider die Sabbater an einen guten Freund (1538),45 Von den Juden und ihren Lügen (1538),46 Von den letzten worten Davids (1543),47 and Vom Schem Hamphoras und vom Geschlecht Christi (1543).48 A separate article "Martin Luther, Jews, and Judaism" by Dorothea Wendebourg is devoted to this topic, so it must suffice here to note a few issues addressed in more recent research. Some have examined the extent to which these later works, which are often hateful and vitriolic, differ from Luther’s earlier writings, particularly the sweetly evangelical Daß Jesus Christus ein geborener Jude sei (1523),49 which faulted Christians for treating the Jews poorly. Can the difficult writings of the elder Luther perhaps be separated from the work of the younger man? It seems not. Luther’s position on the Jews has emerged as basically consistent over the years. He was never pro-Jewish, though his earlier writings may seem so because they are marked by the hope that better Christian treatment of the Jews together with the recovery of the gospel might lead to the Jews’ conversion. The later writings reflect instead his worries about continuing Jewish resistance to the gospel. Luther’s shock at the seeming slander of Jesus Christ found in the Toledot Yeshu (a Jewish “Life of Jesus”) energized the Vom Schem Hamphoras, but his concern that Jewish exegesis would deceive Christian readers of the Bible is apparent throughout all these writings, as well as in his Von den letzten Worten Davids (1543).50 Some have noted in Luther’s defense that unlike some of his contemporaries he was willing to recognize Jewish Christian converts as genuine brothers in the faith.51 Wallman has shown that Luther’s writings on the Jews were hardly known and rarely used prior to the 20th century.52 While scholars have traditionally labeled Luther’s thought as “anti-Judaistic” (i.e., based on religious rather than racial opposition to the Jews), Gritsch and Kaufmann have separately argued that he could rightly be labeled “anti-Semitic” (so Gritsch) or at least “proto-anti-Semitic” (so Kaufmann).53


Dean of the Faculty and Ongoing Lectures on the Bible

From 1535 Luther was dean of the Wittenberg faculty, but he continued with his lectures on the Bible. In 1526 he lectured on Zechariah and Malachi, and then in 1527 he turned to 1 John.54 He continued on the New Testament with lectures on Titus and Philemon,55 and in 1528 moved to 1 Timothy.56 In 1531 he finished his New Testament series with lectures on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,57 which, given its emphasis on distinguishing law and gospel, was special to him: “This is my own dear epistle, to which I have betrothed myself. She’s my Katie von Bora.”58 These lectures were published in 1535 and became a classic statement of Luther’s understanding of justification by grace through faith alone.

During these years he also lectured on the Old Testament, including Isaiah, the Song of Songs, and from 1532 to 1535 on selected psalms.59 In 1535 Luther turned back to Genesis, on which he had lectured in 1523–1524. The “dear Genesis” would turn out to be his last academic lectures series, his swansong.60 He brought them at last to a close in late 1545, just a few months before his death, asking his students to pray that he would die a holy death.61 From 1527 to 1530 Luther also delivered a lengthy lecture series on Isaiah,62 and in 1543–1544 he lectured again on the ninth and fifty-third chapters.63 Major treatises from his later career also include “On the Councils and the Church” (1539) and “Against the Papacy in Rome an Institution of the Devil” (1545).64 The German Bible, begun long before during Luther’s stay at the Wartburg, also continued through the 1520s, beginning with the publication of the Pentateuch in 1524, then the prophets, the Psalms, the poetic and historical books, and at last the complete edition in 1534.65 Efforts continued to improve the translation, with the 1545 edition the last published during Luther’s lifetime.

Disputations (esp. Trinity and Christology)

The early Reformation in Wittenberg had pitted Augustine and the new humanist approaches to theology being developed there against more traditional, scholastic approaches. The younger Luther made clear his confidence that one becomes a theologian through the Word of God rather than through the study of Aristotle: “No one can become a theologian unless he becomes one without Aristotle.”66 By the 1530s, however, Luther and his Wittenberg colleagues, especially Melanchthon, had come to recognize that evangelical pastors and theologians would need reason and dialectical method both to define and defend their faith. Indeed, around 1540, Luther himself put together a handbook of sorts under the title “Dialectica,” where he explained how the tools of intellectual argument should be used in theology, explaining, for example, the distinction between matter and form, the difference between major and minor theses, the role of definition, and the different types of causality.67

Luther’s attention to these issues came during a period when, as noted above, the Wittenbergers had enthusiastically returned to the academic disputation as an approach to answering theological questions. Students ready to advance to the doctoral degree, for example, were required to defend theses, which Luther himself often wrote. He also often served as Promotor, or judge of the candidate’s performance. During the years 1533–1545, there were some thirty disputations, some of which were arranged on an ad hoc basis to address “disputed questions” (quaestiones disputata). Some of the more prominent disputations include On Justification (1533); On the Human Being (1536); Against the Antinomians (1537–1538; four sets of theses); theses on John 1:14, The Word was Made Flesh (1539); On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ (1540); On the Church (1542); On the Trinity (1544); and one On the Distinction of Persons in the Divinity (1545).68

Lectures on Genesis

The great work of Luther’s last ten years, if not of his entire life, is the lectures on Genesis. In the critical edition, they comprise more than 2,200 folio pages, which makes the Genesis lectures Luther’s lengthiest work.69 As was their practice, Luther’s students took down these lectures as he spoke in the classroom. Only the first of the three original published volumes of these lectures appeared during Luther’s lifetime. In a lengthy study, Meinhold critically assessed the editorial practices by which these volumes had made the transition from living speech in the classroom to fixed words on the page. He noted marks of various editorial adjustments, and even “traces of an alien theology,” which, he argued, reflected the “Phillipist” theology of Luther’s students. The lectures did not transmit the authentic voice of Luther.70 For many years, therefore, scholars avoided the Genesis lectures, although dissent was occasionally heard.71 Beginning with Forsberg’s 1984 study of Luther’s reading of Abraham,72 however, things changed quickly, and since then several studies have been produced. The Genesis lectures have re-emerged as a crucial source for understanding the elder Luther’s theology.73

The lectures were delivered to Luther’s students, young men who were preparing for ministry in the emerging evangelical churches, and he clearly used them to inculcate evangelical faith and piety. Here the aging professor found stories uniquely fitted to prepare men and women to live heroic lives of faith. On the one hand, he magnified the heights of the original position from which Adam and Eve fell. In the stories of the great men and women of Genesis Luther found tales of heroic faith and faithfulness. Men like holy Adam, Shem, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph became exemplars of the virtue of faith, and Genesis became a hagiographical textbook for the rhythms of law and gospel at work in everyday life. The same was true of the women of Genesis. Saint Sarah and even her handmaid Hagar became heroic women of faith, whose stories Luther used to instruct his young male auditors in living the Christian life.

Patron and Counselor

Luther’s astonishing ability to engage in multiple controversies on several fronts at the same time, as well as his contributions to a relatively peaceful Reformation in Wittenberg and Electoral Saxony, earned him a reputation for wisdom and insight. From his return to Wittenberg from the Wartburg in 1522, he became the city’s most famous citizen, and in many ways its most influential one as well. In 1535, for example, he intervened in the case of Peter Beskendorf, his barber, who was charged with murder.74 This is the same Master Peter for whom Luther’s winsome tract “A Simple Way to Pray”75 had been written only a few weeks earlier. Beskendorf, apparently inebriated, had stabbed his son-in-law to death. With Luther’s help Beskendorf, though convicted, was exiled rather than sentenced to death. A word from Luther seems to have made the difference. This episode also accurately suggests Luther’s political clout, which was no less real for being informal. Dr. Luther was a trusted citizen whose opinion and support were regularly sought out, not only by citizens such as Beskendorf but by dukes and princes as well.

The particular case of the bigamy of Philipp of Hesse establishes the general point.76 In 1540 it became known that the landgrave, whose support of the early Reformation had been crucial to its success, had marriage problems. Philipp was married to Christine, the daughter of Luther’s foe in Albertine Saxony, Duke George. They had ten children. Philipp found her unattractive and had resorted since the early days of their marriage to prostitutes. His conscience was troubled. He sought approval to take a second wife in order to avoid the scandal of whoring. As sovereign, his private life was a matter of public interest. Indeed, bigamy was a capital crime. Luther and Philip Melanchthon were called in to counsel, and they reluctantly allowed the landgrave to take a second wife, but only as a matter of pastoral dispensation and to prevent more serious sins to which he had already fallen prey. The marriage took place in March 1540. By June it was public knowledge and an occasion of grave scandal. Luther for his part advised Philip to deny the marriage publicly, to tell a “good, strong lie” so as not to bring the evangelical preaching of the gospel into disrepute.77 As Haile ironically notes, “A thousand times more apologies have been made by Lutheran writers for this slip than for all Luther’s horrible attacks on Jewry.”78 The episode left the landgrave, a mainstay of the League of Smalcald, politically weakened and thus set back the cause of Reformation.

Declining Health and Death

From the mid-1530s on, Luther suffered from a series of ailments, including gout, headaches, high blood pressure and related heart issues (angina), poor circulation, hemorrhoids, and kidney stones, not to mention the Anfechtungen that had plagued him from his youth forward. This last complaint was surely a spiritual as much as a physical problem, and it is difficult to find an appropriate term for these attacks in English. Perhaps it suffices to name them a combination of demonic attack, a depression of some sort, and something like a dark night of the soul. Treatments for his various difficulties did nothing to increase his esteem for the medical profession. When, at Smalcald in 1536, he suffered an attack of kidney stones so severe he was expected to die, he famously complained that the physicians had abused his private parts. Even worse, in an effort to move the stone they fed him a mixture of horse dung and garlic. Throughout his later years the physicians also struggled to bring his bodily humors into balance, and so they bled him regularly. These experiences surely explain in part his disdain for physicians. Near the end of his life his rate of publication also slowed, even though he remained a vigorous participant in the debates raging about him.79

In early February 1546 Luther’s traveled to Eisleben, the city of his birth, in order to assist with a dispute that had arisen between the two lines of the ducal house of Mansfeld. His health was clearly precarious. Along the way he suffered from dizzy spells, but upon arrival he was nevertheless able to preach four times, lastly on February 14 or 15. On the seventeenth he suffered another dizzy spell, and during the early hours of the eighteenth he died, apparently of a heart attack. His last words were macaronic, a mix of German and Latin: “Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum” (We are beggars; that is the truth).80 Although Luther intended these words to express his own abiding wonder at the riches of Scripture, they have always seemed a compact summary of his whole approach to the Christian life: the Christian lives in total dependence on God.81

Witnesses to Luther’s death immediately published reports, intended at least in part to assure followers that the condemned heretic had died in faith and with a full affirmation of his doctrine. After a funeral service in Eisleben on February 19, his body was transported back to Wittenberg, and on February 22, 1546, he was interred in the Castle Church, where Bugenhagen preached and Melanchthon, who had earlier mourned him to his students with the famous words—“Dead is the charioteer of Israel, who has led the church in these last times”—delivered a famous funeral oration. The writing of Luther’s life had begun.

Review of the Literature

The standard, in-depth biography of Luther is Martin Brecht’s three-volume work, Luther, which appeared in English translation not long after the German original. Brecht tells Luther’s story in massive detail (1,500 pages in English translation); vol. 1 treats the young Luther, from 1482 to 1521 and vol. 2 a middle period from 1521 to 1532; vol. 3 examines the mature Luther, from 1532 to 1546. The last period begins, reasonably enough, with the accession of the young and enthusiastically evangelical John Frederick, twenty years Luther’s junior, as elector of Saxony. Edwards has noted that during this same period Luther became increasingly polemical and scatological, employing against opponents on every side the language of demonization.82 Oberman noted in response that Luther had always been scatological, and Bagchi has argued convincingly that Luther’s use of the language of the privy is fundamentally theological.83 Single-volume biographies of Luther focus on the dramatic story of the young man and the Ninety-Five Theses (e.g., Leppin’s Martin Luther), as indeed they should. Bainton’s classic work, Here I Stand, remains a fetching introduction with a fine treatment of Luther’s life after the drama at Worms.84

The most vivid introduction to the elder Luther is still Haile’s Luther: An Experiment in Biography, which focuses on the 1530s and 1540s.85 As Haile points out, Luther continued to dominate the European stage like no other figure until his death in 1546. Drawing extensively on the letters and table talks, Haile brought this Luther to life. He offered, for example, a lively retelling of Luther’s revealing but little-noticed encounter in 1535 with the papal emissary Pietro Paolo Vergerio, who years later converted to Lutheranism.86 Similarly, Haile introduces the reader to behind-the-scenes action at the Wittenberg Concord, where he finds Luther’s behavior nothing short of manipulative. The elder Luther, it seems, was highly self-aware, and not above manipulating his opponents in order to achieve the desired results. Elsewhere, Haile recounts with verve the tale of Luther’s physical ailments, his demonology, the antinomian controversy, and much more.

Since the Luther renaissance of the early 20th century, the drama of the young Luther’s story has tended to overshadow the work of the older man, particularly in the years after his lectures on Galatians. Some more recent studies, however, draw attention to the continuing creativity found in the theology and exegesis of the elder Luther. The work of Forsberg was crucial for its focus on the Genesis lectures for understanding the theology of the elder Luther.87 A number of studies followed Forsberg’s wake. In a study of Luther’s mature doctrine of baptism, for example, Trigg looked to the Genesis lectures,88 as did Asendorf, who found in those same lectures a crucial resource for reading Luther’s theology, especially his doctrine of justification, anew.89 Studies such as these suggest that the writings of the elder Luther, including not only the Genesis lectures but also, for example, the lectures on Isaiah, are important avenues for significant new research. While the younger Luther remains the site of most of the exciting action in Luther’s Reformation, the work of the older man has at last begun to emerge from the shadows.

Further Reading

Asendorf, Ulrich. Luther neu gelesen: Modernität und ökumenische Aktualität in seiner letzten Vorlesung. Neuendettelsau, Germany: Freimund-Verlag, 2005.Find this resource:

Bainton, Roland. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950.Find this resource:

Bornkamm, Heinrich. Luther in Mid-Career, 1521–1530. Translated by E. Theodore Bachmann and Edited by Karin Bornkamm. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983.Find this resource:

Brecht, Martin. Luther, vols. 2–3. Translated by James L. Schaaf. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990–1993.Find this resource:

Edwards, Mark U., Jr. Luther and the False Brethren. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975.Find this resource:

Edwards, Mark U., Jr. Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics 1531–46. Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1983.Find this resource:

Haile, H. G. Luther: An Experiment in Biography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980.Find this resource:

Hendrix, Scott H. Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer. New Haven, CT: Yale, 2015.Find this resource:

Junghans, Helmar, ed. Leben und Werk Martin Luthers von 1526 bis 1546, vol. 1. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983.Find this resource:

Oberman, Heiko A. Luther: Man between God and the Devil. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Schilling, Heinz. Martin Luther: Rebell in einer Zeit des Umbruchs. Munich: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2012.Find this resource:


(1.) To this, see Erik Leland Saak, High Way to Heaven: The Augustinian Platform Between Reform and Reformation, 1292–1524 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002), 670–671.

(2.) For an overview of Luther’s marriage and household affairs, see Helmar Junghans, “Luther in Wittenberg,” in Leben und Werk Martin Luthers von 1526 bis 1546, vol. 1, by Helmar Junghans (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983), 11–37.

(3.) WA TR 3:3178, 15–18.

(4.) See Luther’s letters 3792 and 3794, WA BR 10:147, 149.

(5.) For Katharina’s life, see Jeanette C. Smith, “Katharina von Bora through Five Centuries: A Historiography,” Sixteenth Century Journal 30.3 (1999): 745–774. See also Martin Treu, ed., Katharina von Bora, Die Lutherin: Aufsätze anläßlich ihres 500. Geburtstages (Wittenberg, 1999); and Treu, “Katharina von Bora, the Woman at Luther’s Side,” Lutheran Quarterly 13 (1999): 157–178.

(6.) Martin Brecht, Luther, vol. 2, trans. James L. Schaaf (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990), 200.

(7.) See, e.g., WA BR 7:150, 3–4, letter no. 1844; and WA BR 7:57, 13, letter no. 2106.

(8.) See Birgit Stolt, “Luther on God as Father,” Lutheran Quarterly 8.4 (1994): 383–395; Stolt, “Das lichte Gott-Vater-Bild des alten Luther,” in Luther: Zeitschrift der Luther-Gesellschaft 72.1 (2001): 17–23; and Stolt, “Luther’s Faith of ‘the Heart’: Experience, Emotion, and Reason,” in The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times, ed. Christine Helmer (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), 131–150.

(9.) Traditional scholarship portrays Luther’s “breakthrough” and eventual separation from the Roman Church as occasioned by his “discovery of a gracious God.” Volker Leppin, on the other hand, finds Luther’s release from the judgmental God he had come to know at home in the gracious God he came to know in the monastery, where his religious angst was answered by the wisdom he learned from Bernard of Clairvaux (probably through Grevenstein) and Staupitz, and from German mystical theology. See Leppin, Martin Luther (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliches Buch-Gesellschaft, 2006).

(10.) On this development in Luther’s reading of Eve, see Mickey L. Mattox, “Defender of the Most Holy Matriarchs”: The Women of Genesis in the Enarrationes in Genesin, 1535–1545 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003), 29–108.

(11.) In the Latin edition of Luther’s 1523–1524 sermons on Genesis, again, he calls Eve the “little woman” (muliercula). The German edition puts it this way: “Das ist so viel gesagt: Heva war nicht so verstendig als Adam, wie auch oben gesagt ist, das Gott mit Adam selbs geredt hat und yhm ein gepot geben, das er Hevam solt leren, Darumb wil er sprechen: Adam hats wol gewust und verstanden, Sie aber war einfeltiger und dem listigen Teuffel zu schwach und versahe sichs nicht, Aber Adam versahe sichs wol, der hette wol sollen und kuennen weren, wenn ers het wollen thuen.” (Emphasis added) WA 24:83–84 (on Gen. 3:1).

(12.) WA 42:103, on Gen. 2:23.

(13.) Speaking of Adam and Eve, the elder Luther says that if “we are looking for an outstanding philosopher, let us not overlook our first parents while they were still free from sin.” Moreover, Eve “had these mental gifts in the same degree as Adam.” WA 42:49–50; and LW 1:66.

(14.) See Mattox, Defender, chs. 1–2. For a somewhat different interpretation, see Theo M. M. A. C. Bell, “Man is a Microcosmos: Adam and Eve in Luther’s Lectures on Genesis (1535–1545),” Concordia Theological Quarterly 69.2 (2005): 159–184.

(15.) WA 42:79b.

(16.) For an impression of the early Protestant zeal for the married ministry, see Steven Ozment, Protestants: the Birth of a Revolution (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 27. By the 1540s, Ozment writes, the “new clergy … have married rapidly and in large numbers. Clerical marriage has become as much the mark of the Protestant cleric as belief in the sole authority of Scripture. An unmarried cleric is deemed strange; the reformers play cupid for one another in a rush to share the newly discovered bliss of married life and to make another public statement against Rome.”

(17.) The standard treatment of the three estates is Wilhelm Maurer, Luthers Lehre von den drei Hierarchien und ihre mittelalterliche Hintergrund (Munich: Verlag der Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1970).

(18.) For Luther’s understand of marriage as a religious estate, see Scott H. Hendrix, “Luther on Marriage,” Lutheran Quarterly 14 (2000): 335–350.

(19.) Though it is now somewhat dated, one may still consult Gustav Wingren, Luther on Vocation, trans. Carl C. Rasmussen (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1957). The translation is now available in a reprint edition from Wipf & Stock (2004).

(20.) Broadly to this topic, see Scott H. Hendrix, Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004).

(21.) Ernestine Saxony was also called Electoral Saxony, because the territorial sovereign was included among the seven prince electors who chose the Holy Roman Emperor.

(22.) See, e.g., the letter to Spalatin of January 1527, WA BR 4:149–152. See esp. 150:33–51, where Luther speaks of the “plunder of the monasteries” and decries those self-serving nobles who, following the death of Frederick the Wise in 1525, took advantage of the situation “in the name of the Gospel.”

(23.) Duke George was engaged in reforming the churches in his territory before the implementation of the Reformation by his noble cousins in neighboring Ernestine Saxony. See Christoph Volkmar, Reform statt Reformation: Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1488–1525 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2008).

(24.) Pastor Johannes Bugenhagen was away assisting with the Reformation in Braunschweig. See Kurt Hendel, Johannes Bugenhagen: Selected Writings, vol. 1 (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015), 34–35.

(25.) For a theological evaluation of Luther’s catechisms, see Albrecht Peters’s five-volume study Kommentar zu Luthers Katechismen (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1990–1994), also available in a five-volume English translation as Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 2009–2013).

(26.) To this point, see Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 378.

(27.) See Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989).

(28.) See James Kittelson, “Luther the Church Bureaucrat,” Concordia Journal 13 (1987): 204–301.

(29.) See Lewis W. Spitz, Luther and German Humanism (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1996), viii.

(30.) See John A. Maxfield, Luther’s Lectures on Genesis and the Formation of Evangelical Identity (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008), ch. 5.

(31.) For more detail, see William R. Russell, The Schmalkald Articles: Luther’s Theological Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995).

(32.) For Luther’s critical view of the Regensburg article on justification, see W. von Loewenich, Duplex Iustitia: Luthers Stellung zu einer Unionsformel des 16. Jahrhunderts (Wiesbaden, Germany: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1972).

(33.) For a historical introduction and an English translation of Hoen’s “A Most Christian Letter,” see Heiko A. Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966), 241–255, 268–278. See now also Amy Nelson Burnett, Karlstadt and the Origins of the Eucharistic Controversy: A Study in the Circulation of Ideas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(34.) WA 19:482–523; LW 36:335–361.

(35.) WA 23:38–320; LW 37:3–150.

(36.) WA 26:241–509; LW 37:151–372.

(37.) Broadly to this controversy, see Walther Köhler, Zwingli und Luther: Ihr Streit über das Abendmahl nach seinen politischen und religiösen Beziehungen, vol. 2: Vom Beginn der Marburger Verhandlungen 1529 bis zum Abschluß der Wittenberger Konkordie von 1536, Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte, 7 (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1953), 432–525. See also Amy Nelson Burnett, “The Social History of Communion and the Reformation of the Eucharist,” Past and Present 211 (May 2011): 77–119.

(38.) Timothy J. Wengert has traced the origins of this controversy back into Melanchthon’s lectures on Colossians (1527–1534). See his Law and Gospel: Philip Melanchthon’s Debate with John Agricola of Eisleben over Poenitentia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1997).

(39.) Broadly to this process, see John Witte, Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

(40.) For an English translation of the six antinomian disputations written by Luther between January 1538 and September 1540, see Solus Decalogus est Aeternus: Martin Luther’s Complete Antinomian Theses and Disputations, ed. and trans. Holger Sonntag (Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2008). See WA 39/I:342–358, 39/1:360–417, 39/1:419–485, 39/1:489–584, 39/2:124–144.

(41.) Further to Campanus, see Chalmers MacCormick, “The ‘Antitrinitarianism’ of John Campanus,” Church History 32.3 (1963): 278–297; and Horst Weigelt, “Campanus, Johannes (c. 1500–nach 1574),” in Theologische Realenzyklopädie, eds. G. Krause and G. Müller, vol. 7 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1981), 601–604.

(42.) CA 1 rejects the views of the “the Samosatenes, old and new.” (Emphasis mine)

(43.) For an English translation of three of Luther’s most important disputations on questions related to the doctrine of the Trinity, see Dennis Bielfeldt, Mickey L. Mattox, and Paul R. Hinlicky, The Substance of the Faith: Doctrinal Theology in the Tradition of Martin Luther (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008), appendix (191–209). Luther’s opposition to the anti-trinitarians is noted in the Genesis lectures, at Gen. 6:3, where he mentions both Servetus and Campanus. The WA editors regard this as an interpolation by a later hand. WA 42:274, 34–38. Cf. LW 2:18.

(44.) For a wide-angle view of this problem, see Dean Philip Bell and Stephen G. Burnett, eds., Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006).

(45.) WA 50:312–337; LW 47:58–99.

(46.) WA 53:417–552; LW 47:122–306.

(47.) WA 54:28–100; LW 15:264–352.

(48.) WA 53:573–648. This treatise will be translated for the Continuation Series of Luther’s Works. For a study of Luther’s anti-Jewish writings, see Thomas Kaufmann, Luther’s ‘Judenschriften’ (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2011).

(49.) WA 11:314–336; LW 45:196–231.

(50.) WA 54:16–100. On the issue of Luther’s anti-Jewish exegesis, see Mickey L. Mattox, “From Faith to the Text and Back Again: Martin Luther on the Trinity in the Old Testament,” Pro Ecclesia 15.3 (2006): 281–303.

(51.) See, e.g., Heiko A. Oberman, The Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Age of Renaissance and Reformation, trans. James I. Porter (Philadelphia: Fortress 1984).

(52.) Johannes Wallman, “The Reception of Luther’s Writings on the Jews from the Reformation to the End of the 19th Century,” Lutheran Quarterly n.s., 1 (1987): 72–97.

(53.) Eric W. Gritsch, Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitism: Against His Better Judgment (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012); and Thomas Kaufmann, Luthers Juden (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2014).

(54.) WA 20:7–203; and 599–801.

(55.) WA 25:6–78.

(56.) WA 26:4–120.

(57.) In WA 40/I:15–688; and 40/II:1–184.

(58.) WA TR 1:69, 18–19.

(59.) Pss. 2, 45, 51, the “gradual” psalms (120–134), and Ps. 90. For a survey of Luther’s translation work on the Old Testament, see Siegfried Raeder, “The Exegetical and Hermeneutical Work of Martin Luther,” in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: A History of Its Interpretation, vol. 2: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, ed. Magne Sæbø (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008), 363–406.

(60.) So Melanchthon, in his preface to the third published volume of the Enarrationes. See WA 44:19.

(61.) WA 44:825: “Das ist nu der liebe Genesis. Unser Herr Got geb, das andere nach mir besser machen. Ich kan nit mehr, ich bin schwach, orate Deum pro me, das er mir ein gutes, seliges stuendlin verleihe.”

(62.) WA 25:87–401; 31/II:1–585; 59:385–388.

(63.) In WA 40/III:595–746.

(64.) The former is in WA 50:509–653 and LW 41:3–178, the latter in WA 54:206–299 and LW 41;257–376.

(65.) Siegfried Raeder, “Luther als Ausleger und Übersetzer der Heiligen Schrift,” in Junghans, Leben und Werk, 253–278. See also Heinz Bluhm, Martin Luther: Creative Translator (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 1965).

(66.) See the Disputation against Scholastic Theology (1517); here thesis 44. Cf. the Heidelberg Disputation (1518), especially the philosophical theses, nos. 29–40. For the young Luther’s understanding of Aristotle, see Theodor Dieter, Der junge Luther und Aristoteles (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2001).

(67.) WA 60:143–162.

(68.) For a list with titles and locations in the WA, see the Luther Handbuch, ed. Albrecht Beutel, 2d ed. (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 336–337.

(69.) WA 42–44. The English translation occupies vols. 1–8 of the American edition, i.e., LW 1–8.

(70.) Peter Meinhold, Die Genesisvorlesung Luthers und ihre Herausgeber (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1936). See also the study of Meinhold’s teacher, Erich Seeberg, Studien zu Luthers Genesisvorlesung (Gütersloh: “Der Rufer” Evangelischer Verlag, 1932). Prior to these two studies, scholars found the Genesis lectures a rich resource for understanding Luther’s theology. See, e.g., Otto Zöckler, Luther als Ausleger des alten Testaments (Greifswald, Germany: Julius Abel, 1883); and Julius Köstlin, Martin Luther: Sein Leben und seine Schriften, 2 vols. (Berlin: A. Duncker, 1903).

(71.) See Jaroslav Pelikan’s introduction to the Genesis lectures in LW 1, esp. xii.

(72.) Juhani Forsberg, Das Abrahambild in der Theologie Luthers: Pater Fidei Sanctissimus (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1984).

(73.) For a critical survey of the literature on this question, see Mattox, Defender, appendix A. Other recent studies include, e.g., Ulrich Asendorf, Lectura in Biblia: Luthers Genesisvorlesung (1535–1545) (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998); Asendorf, Luther Neu Gelesen: Modernität und Ökumenische Aktualität in Seiner Letzten Vorlesung (Neuendettelsau, Germany: Freimund-Verlag, 2005); John A. Maxfield, Luther’s Lectures on Genesis and the Formation of Evangelical Identity (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008); and Jonathan D. Trigg, Baptism in the Theology of Martin Luther (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994).

(74.) For a sketch of Beskendorf in relation to Luther, see Nikolaus Müller, “Peter Beskendorf, Luthers Barbier und Freund,” in Aus Deutschlands kirchlicher Vergangenheit, eds. R. Eger und H. Hermelink (Leipzig: Verlag von Quelle & Meyer, 1912), 37–92.

(75.) WA 38:358–375; LW 43:189–211.

(76.) Broadly to this episode, see David M. Whitford, A Reformation Life: The European Reformation through the Eyes of Philipp of Hesse (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2015), ch. 9, “Sex, Lies, and Two Wives.” Whitford notes regarding this case, “As with so many other things, Luther’s opinion would need to be procured” (117).

(77.) Briefwechsel Landgraf Philipp’s des Grossmüthigen von Hessen mit Bucer, vol. 1 (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1880), 373.

(78.) For Haile’s retelling of the story, see his Luther, 273–277; here 276.

(79.) Mark U. Edwards, “Luther’s Last Battles,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 48 (1984): 125–140.

(80.) WA TR 5:317, 2–3. Cf. LW 54:476.

(81.) See Heiko A. Oberman, “Wir sein pettler. Hoc est verum: Bund und Gnade in der Theologie des Mittelalters und der Reformation,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 78 (1967): 232–252.

(82.) Mark U. Edwards, Luther’s Last Battles: Politics and Polemics 1531–1546 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1983).

(83.) See Heiko A. Oberman, “Teufelsdreck: Eschatology and Scatology in the ‘Old’ Luther,” Sixteenth Century Journal 19.3 (1988): 435–450; and David V. N. Bagchi, “The German Rabelais? Foul Words and the Word in Luther,” Reformation & Renaissance Review 7.2 (2005): 143–162.

(84.) Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950).

(85.) H. G. Haile, Luther: An Experiment in Biography (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980).

(86.) For Vergerio’s visit, see Haile, Experiment, 7–29; here 19–20.

(87.) Forsberg, Das Abrahambild.

(88.) Trigg, Baptism.

(89.) Ulrich Asendorf, Luther neu gelesen: Modernität und ökumenische Aktualität in seiner letzten Vorlesung (Neuendettelsau, Germany: Freimund-Verlag, 2005).