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date: 26 April 2017

The Gift in Martin Luther’s Theology

Summary and Keywords

In analyzing the role of gift and giving in Martin Luther’s theology, one almost inevitably has to deal with the contrast between Marcel Mauss’s description of archaic gift economy, where gifts and exchange are interconnected and gift exchange a total social fact, and Derrida’s critique of Mauss for talking of anything else but the gift, since only a gift uncontaminated by exchange deserves the proper name “gift.” Accordingly, any reading of Luther relating Luther’s theology to the reciprocity of giving seems, from the outset, to grasp anything but the cornerstone of his theology: the justification by faith alone apart from works of the law. Nevertheless, scholars in the early 21st century have been discussing Luther as a theologian of the gift. Some defend a position according to which Luther’s theology can only be rightly understood by maintaining that the divine gift is free and pure. Others argue that Luther’s mature theology allows for an integration of some kind of exchange as a vital part of the very doctrine of justification.

In both cases, social anthropological gift studies can function as a lens for highlighting the heart of Luther’s theology, either negatively by presenting the absolute opposite of Luther’s understanding of divine giving in justification and creation or positively by revealing the very heart of the same. The young Luther vehemently criticized a piety regulated by economic principles and understood divine righteousness in contrast to human principles for righteousness. However, he soon began integrating reciprocal aspects from the traditional definition of righteousness into his doctrine of justification. This was possible due to an emphasis on the divine self-giving, revealed in Christ and slowly elaborated to cover Luther’s understanding of the whole Trinity. In this move, Luther seemed to have been influenced by Roman popular philosophy, which was widespread in the late renaissance, but biblical passages emphasizing reciprocal justice also played an important role. Advocators for understanding Luther’s theology from the perspective of inter-human gift exchange will argue that Luther’s theology of the gift is intimately related to his use of the figure of communicatio idiomatum, which allows the giver to share his attributes with the receiver.

Keywords: Martin Luther, gift, gift exchange, justification, reciprocity, Christology, communicatio idiomatum, giving

Luther Studies and Anthropological Gift Theories

The gift has become a theme for theology in recent decades. Its arrival within Luther studies was, however, marked by a remarkable delay in comparison to other research areas occupied with human gift giving and exchange. This can be seen as the result of a natural resistance toward reciprocal figures within the Lutheran tradition that has been especially strong in the 20th century, where an emphasis on grace as a pure and unilateral gift has dominated Protestant theology. Luther criticized a theology making salvation depending on human achievement, emphasizing grace as a free gift in his doctrine of justification by faith alone without works. In so doing, he continued the main line of Christianity understanding grace as God’s superabundant gift contrary to human reciprocity going back to biblical and ancient Greek and Roman understandings.1

The stress on the contrast between the divine Word and human reality in dialectical theology did not have any room for an idea of gift exchange. This view has been challenged by recent gift studies within Luther research. The main question is whether Luther’s radicalization of the Christian doctrine of grace presupposes the idea of a free gift or whether it entails an idea of mutuality critical toward most—but not all—kinds of social reciprocity.

The gift is an “umbrella term” covering a variety of theoretical approaches from the perspective of philosophy, social anthropology, and theology.2 This survey focuses on the challenge from social anthropology and sociology. From the perspective of sociology, the concept of grace can be seen as theology’s version of the concept of gift giving, radicalized in Luther’s doctrine of justification (and Calvin’s doctrine of predestination).3 This view has to be balanced with the general claim of social anthropology that the idea of the pure gift is a fiction, mainly established to conceal the hard economic reality of all gift giving: a gift is always part of a reciprocal economy. Against this seems to stand the Lutheran claim: divine grace is a free gift.

Gift theories challenge Luther studies with a number of questions to be answered, of which the most important relate to the ambivalence of the gift. According to Marcel Mauss and others in his wake, including the philosophical discourse on the possibility and impossibility of gift giving by Jacques Derrida,4 the very awareness of a gift involves socially the expectation of a return. This makes gifts intrinsically ambiguous. Gift giving oscillates between care for the other and establishment of power relations; since the position of the giver socially is the superior one, the position of the receiver is the inferior.5 The question is how a theology of the gift is related to this fundamental ambiguity of gift giving. Related to this, is the question of the impact of Luther’s theology of the gift upon society. Some scholars have argued that Luther’s break with reciprocal gift giving in the Catholic tradition opens for a desacralization of society laying the ground for the dichotomy of gift and exchange burdening modern thinking.6

Luther as a Theologian of the Gift

For Luther, God is dealing primarily with human beings in giving. From his earliest writings, Luther distinguishes between giving and receiving, as it is the case in an often quoted passage from Dictata defining divine being:

But this is what it means to be God: Not to take good but to give it and therefore to render good for evil.7

Luther plays here with the traditional understanding in Roman law, according to which he is righteous who pays everyone his due,8 but also with its threatening form in Matthew 18:28: “pay back what you owe.”9 He operates clearly with a concept of righteousness that breaks with human expectations. At the same time, Luther’s own use of gift language seems to suggest a position somewhere between Aristotle’s definition of the gift as “something given without recompense,”10 and the claim of anthropology that all social relations depend on the exchange of gifts.

Luther is rooted within a general Christian tradition that, with the words of Marcel Hénaff, understands the believer’s gift as:

Above all, the gift of oneself through faith, the gesture of absolute trust. Only faith can open the space of charity. The gift of oneself, as well as any gift given to one’s neighbor, can only have meaning, or rather is only possible, because of the gift that has been received, the divine gift that is Christ himself.11

At the same time, he marks a significant turning point in radicalizing this idea of divine and human self-giving.

The use of gift categories from social anthropology in interpreting Luther’s theology demands caution. Further, it remains unsettled how far an interpretation can go following this line and whether this route is, in principle, blocked by Luther’s understanding of theological language filling ordinary words with new meaning so that the gift becomes a metaphor for transferring meaning alien to worldly affairs. This question becomes acute when gift-exchange theories from social anthropology are juxtaposed to Luther’s understanding of God’s unilateral giving to human beings. Does Luther’s understanding of theology’s nova lingua underpin the idea of a one-way gift, or is Luther’s use of gift language dependent on the universal reciprocal reality of gift giving? In the following, Luther’s theological use of the gift is interpreted from the perspective of social anthropological gift studies, emphasizing that a gift economy as pure form is detectable in all cultures, despite all obvious differences and unending variations, and can, therefore, be categorized as universal in the same way as the incest taboo.12 That giving and receiving are basic human activities is what relates theology to social anthropology.13 Advocators for a reading of Luther inspired by gift studies argue that a focus on gift and giving in Luther’s theology, due to the universal character of gift relations, can reveal constitutive dynamics in Luther’s own thinking.

The Gospel and the Ambivalence of Gift Giving

Gift theories in general are burdened with a constitutive ambivalence that can be traced back to the difference between Mauss’s insistence that gift is the primary phenomenon binding society together and Claude Lévi-Strauss’s argument that the economic reality of exchange is the real phenomenon.14 According to Pierre Bourdieu, neither Mauss nor Lévi-Strauss are, however, able to explain social practice. Successful social interaction is instead dependent on the participants’ ability to ignore the objective economic reality.15 Gift theorists differ on whether economic interest or social stability is the primary aspect of gift giving. The same simultaneity of awareness of economic mechanisms and social coherence can be found in Luther. His break with medieval piety uncovered the economic dynamic in both theology and ecclesial practices, most clearly seen in his general attack on all kinds of work righteousness and ideas of justification dependent on merit.

Further, his understanding of law and Gospel can be seen from the perspective of exchange rationality. The law cannot but speak to human beings as calculating individuals by either threat of punishment or promise of reward.

Here we maintain that the law was given by God, in the first place, to curb sin by means of threat and terror of punishment and also by means of the promise and offer of grace and favour.16

Luther’s view of the fallen and sinful human being is to a very large extent expressed through the metaphors of economic calculation, including the image of the sinner as incurvatus in se, as curved into him or herself.

So far, there seems to be no major argument concerning the similarity between Luther’s view on human sinfulness and the understanding of the universality of exchange economy in social anthropology. It is the claim that Luther can use the social dimension of gift exchange positively that makes a stir.

The Struggle with Reciprocity: Luther’s Use of Metaphors around 1520

Luther’s early theology is marked by his struggle with the classical definition of righteousness in order to keep divine righteousness apart from worldly reciprocity. The righteousness of faith has to be of a totally different kind, as Luther states in another early sermon, Sermo Die S. Andreae from 1516.

Therefore the justice that comes from faith is wonderful, since it does not pay back what it owes, but abandons all and yields all goods. If we ought to give back everything we owed, we could not give satisfaction for a single hour of our lives.17

In this exchange-oriented argumentation, Luther attempts to distinguish the righteousness of faith negatively from worldly justice by using the concept of cessio bonorum from Roman law; by abandoning all property, a debtor could avert going to debtor’s prison despite the actual property’s lack of equivalence with the debt. In another attempt from the same period, faith understood as humility becomes the way human beings pay God his due by negating him or herself.18

Then, in his preface to Romans in 1522, he uses without hesitation this classical formulation of Roman law positively as a dimension of the reality of the happy faith given by God.

Righteousness, then, is such a faith. It is called “the righteousness of God” because Got gives it, and counts it as righteousness for the sake of Christ our Mediator, and makes a man to fulfil his obligation to everybody. For through faith a man becomes free from sin and comes to take pleasure in God’s commandments, thereby he gives God the honor due him, and pays him what he owes him. Likewise he serves his fellow-men willingly, by whatever means he can, and thus pays his debt to everyone.19

In this formulation, the human giving back to God is formulated as part of the new creation of God. Risto Saarinen has argued that apparent inconsistencies disappear when justification is seen from the giver’s instead of the receiver’s perspective.20 Seen from a giver perspective, a certain activity in reception becomes an inevitable part of the event of giving; otherwise, the process of giving would be indistinguishable from putting a book in a book case.

The difference between Luther’s formulation in 1516 and 1522 highlights again the crucial question regarding Luther’s theology of the gift: Does Luther’s use follow the rules of anthropological gift giving, according to which a gift is followed by a counter-gift establishing different kinds of mutual or reciprocal relationships, or does his use represent the absolute contrast to worldly giving by his insistence on human passivity? Luther’s writing around 1520 shows a crucial interest in human sociality, especially in relation to the Lord’s Supper. His 1519 sermon on the true body of Christ makes room both for humans to give back to God and to their neighbor as part of a general mutuality.21

Luther’s preface to Romans shows at least a rather relaxed combination of reciprocal structures and the doctrine of justification as the dominating trends of 20th- and 21st-century Protestant theology. The approach from the preface can be found throughout Luther’s work, also in the important large “Lectures on Galatians” from 1531:

Faith justifies, because it pays God his due; he who does so, is just.22

The theology of the young Luther is primarily oriented toward the human receiver position, whereas the older Luther increasingly focuses on the perspective of the divine giver position—although without giving up the perspective of the recipient.23 This change corresponds to a change in the dominating figure of salvation. This change in Luther’s theology can be followed step by the step, of which the first was the one that allowed Luther to integrate models of mutuality in his doctrine of justification. One of the first examples of this change leading to the formulations in the quotation can be found in Luther’s Sermon on the Double Righteousness, published in 1519. Here, Luther uses the marriage metaphor to explain the relation between divine alien righteousness (iustitia aliena) and human beings’ own righteousness (iustitia propria). In the former, Christ gives himself to the human being as a groom with an “I am yours”; in the latter, the human being responds with a corresponding “I am yours.”24 The exchange of goods (and of evils for the human part) follows here the mutual self-giving of the groom and bride, as common property is the legal consequence of a consummated marriage according to Roman law. This idea is explicit in Luther’s Freedom of a Christian from 1520, where the nuptial imagery is combined with the happy exchange.25

Giving and Self-Giving

Using the nuptial imagery, Luther can be seen as articulating a peculiar form of exchange not sufficiently captured by sociology and social anthropology. According to the social anthropologist Marshal Sahlins, reciprocity forms a spectrum of various forms of reciprocity distinguished by their sociability rather than representing one single phenomenon.26 In Sahlins’s spectrum, the middle is the socially neutral balanced reciprocity where exchange objects match with regard to value. The negative extreme is the form where one or both partners seek their own benefit at the expense of the other either in trade or theft. At the other end, we find the socially extreme form of generalized reciprocity where gifts are given without thoughts of a later return, although the return is nevertheless without plan or contract later given. In Sahlins’s spectrum, the middle form is the most symmetrical form of exchange and socially neutral. In Pierre Bourdieu’s work on the logic of practice, he notices than in the most social versions of exchange the agents conceal the “objective economy” of the exchange to avoid the destruction of the gift in reducing it to economy. The return gift has, therefore, to be different in order to distinguish the return from refusal, and to be delayed in order to distinguish it from barter.27

Neither of the models, however, fit Luther’s use of the nuptial metaphor or of his understanding of the Lord’s Supper. In Luther’s use of the bridal image (1) structurally similar gifts are exchanged in the mutual self-giving, (2) the exchange happens as in love simultaneously, and (3) knowledge of the exchange does not destroy the mutual gift giving, but is instead constitutive for it. Luther’s conscious use of the symmetrical potential of the metaphor is dependent on an important shift in the view on heterosexual love in the 12th century, detectable both in Bernard of Clairvaux and in courtly love poetry. The antique ideal of male friendship—the idea of “one soul in bodies twain”—was transferred to the ideal understanding of the relation between man and woman, focusing on the mutual self-giving in love.28 Luther’s use of the nuptial metaphor emphasizes the mutuality of bride and groom instead of their internal hierarchy. The necessary distinction between God and human being is safeguarded by combining the bridal image with the imagery from Hosea of the marriage with the whore. By this move, the internal mutuality between bride and groom becomes the metaphor for the interplay between Word and faith that raises the unworthy sinner to new righteousness.

Luther’s Gift Language: Theology and Roman Popular Philosophy in the Renaissance

Recent studies have offered good arguments for assuming that Roman popular philosophy was widely spread not only in contemporary culture but also among the reformers. Luther’s distinction between divine favor and divine gift in his writing against Latomus is easily related to Seneca’s understanding of benefits in his De beneficiis.29 When Luther understands grace as divine favor and terminologically distinguishes it from the divine gift, the distinction corresponds to Seneca’s understanding of the beneficial action: the real benefit is not what is actually done or given, but what remains after the actual donum is gone—that is, the benevolence of the donator. The good benefactor, therefore, does not make his giving depend on the return.30Favor dei is the good intention of the divine giver, which in Luther is the same as grace, and in interpreting donum dei as faith, the confidence in the benevolence of God toward human sinners is also a divine gift. In this way, Luther’s distinction between favor dei and donum dei can be seen as the response to the general ambivalence of the gift. Gifts can be both constructive and destructive, a sign of love or an instrument of power. Luther’s emphasis on faith as confidence in the benevolence of God, expressed in the divine self-giving, is the only way that the divine majesty or harsh judge can be turned into a loving father. This motif becomes crucial to both Luther and Melanchthon. In the motif of God as the loving father, justification and creation theology interact into a comprehensive theology of divine giving.31 The relation between the disinterested benevolent giver in stoicism and the Lutheran loving Father-God seeking companionship with the sinful human being is not yet fully clarified.

Gift and Sacrifice

At the basis of Luther’s theology of divine giving lies a soteriology focusing on Jesus Christ’s self-giving in incarnation and on the cross for the sake of human beings. The awareness of different forms of giving allows for a nuanced view on Luther’s relation to traditional theology of atonement. Several scholars have used Augustine’s understanding of sacrifice distinguishing between (1) the giver, (2) the object, (3) the receiver, and (4) the beneficiary. This four-position scheme is clearly seen in Anselm’s theory of atonement, where Christ offers himself to the Father in order to redeem human beings, who then are placed in the position of being beneficiaries of Christ’s redeeming deed. However, in Luther’s understanding of salvation, the positions melt together. In Christ’s death on the cross, giver and gift become identical (1 = 2). It is this identification that substantiates the claim of God’s love; the receiver position and the beneficiary position also melt together. The human being becomes the receiver of Christ himself (3 = 4). In Luther’s use of the nuptial metaphor, this model is doubled: the believer gives him or herself in faith and is received by God. Luther’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper follows the same line. This opens for an integration of the Eucharistic motif in a Lutheran theology of the Lord’s Supper as in Wolfgang Simon’s work on Luther’s theology of the sacrifice of the mass.32 Furthermore, the reading of Luther with gift theories allows also for a structurally based support of key assertions made by Finnish Luther research emphasizing the union with Christ in faith. 33

By enlarging the normally three positional gift relation by the fourth position of the beneficiary, another important aspect is added to our understanding of both gifts in general and of Luther’s theology of the gift in particular. The coincidence of position 3 and 4 marks the good gift: the gift given not only to me, but also for me, to my benefit. In order to recognize a gift as a good gift from a good giver, the trust of the receiver in the good intentions of the giver is needed. This simple model shows from the perspective of gift giving why the word of promise (qualifying the character of the gift by pointing at the intention of the gift) necessarily corresponds with faith understood as confidence (in the giver’s good intention). The relation between promise and faith calls for the clear revelation of the giver’s intention. For Luther, this revelation takes place sub contrario in the divine self-giving in incarnation and cross.

The Self-Giving God

On the basis of the integration of models of mutuality in the doctrine of justification, and in combination with a creation theology based on justification, Luther develops a clear giver-oriented theology covering all articles of faith in his later works. The cornerstone of the later Luther’s theology of divine self-giving is the Trinitarian theology in the final confession in Concerning Christ’s Supper from 1528, which has become a key reference text for scholars dealing with Luther’s theology of the gift, since divine giving here is nothing but divine self-giving. Here Luther states:

This is the three persons and one God, who has given himself to us absolutely and completely, along with all that he is and has. The Father gives himself to us with heaven and earth and all creatures, so that they can serve us and be useful. But this gift has been darkened and has become useless through the fall of Adam. For this reason, at a later time, the Son gave himself to us as well, gifted us with all his works, suffering, wisdom and righteousness, and has reconciled us with the Father, so that we, once again alive and righteous, can also recognize and can have the Father with these gifts.

In Christian tradition, the idea of the self-giving of the son remains the cornerstone of theology; likewise, the Spirit has traditionally been understood as the divine gift present in the individual believer:

But because this grace could not benefit anyone if it would stay hidden away very secretly and could not come to us, therefore the Holy Spirit comes and gives himself completely to us as well. He teaches us how to recognize such a wonderful blessing of Christ, which is shown to us, helps us to receive it and to hold onto it, shows how to use it profitably and how to give it to others, to multiply it and to advance it. He does this for us both inwardly and outwardly: inwardly through faith and other spiritual gifts, but outwardly through the gospel, through baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar, by means of which he comes to us as if through three means or manners, and works the suffering of Christ in us and lets it serve to give everlasting bliss.34

Luther’s most important contribution to a comprehensive theology of the gift35 is his expansion of the idea of divine self-giving to encompass all articles of faith equally, including the first. Luther’s Trinitarian theology of divine self-giving does not only emphasize self-giving as the dominating characteristic of divine agency; it also follows the general structure of giving, in so far that the Father represents the giver, the Son the gift identical to the giver, and the Holy Spirit the reception in the receiver.

The strong link between justification and creation is elaborated in Luther’s lectures on Genesis, forming Luther’s teaching on the three estates. The first estate, the Church, is established by the creation of a small forest of trees of life and of good and evil, meant for Adam to be the place for weekly thanksgiving for the received gifts. The second estate, oeconomia or family (including production), establishes the framework for the circulation of divine given goods among fellow human beings. After the fall, the third order is added in order to safeguard both the thankful reception and the circulation. Noteworthy is the banal coincidence of receiving and thanksgiving, which corresponds to Luther’s simultaneous understanding of faith both as the only work to be done by humans and as divine gift.

From this perspective, Luther’s abolition of the Eucharistic prayer seems to be somewhat out of harmony with this general understanding of faith as both organ of reception and of self-giving in gratitude.36

Gift and Recognition

The anthropological gift category emphasizing the role of gift for social cohesion is closely related to the concept of recognition. Building upon the anthropological concept of the gift, the interrelatedness and mutual dependency of giver, object, and reception becomes crucial. In a three-position gift relation, the receiver is in a strict sense receiving his or her position and identity: to be receiver is dependent on the giver and the gift. On the other hand, to be giver in a true sense—that is, not only of something but of a real and good gift—the position of being giver is dependent on the receiver in a double sense: only by actually receiving the gift does the gift becomes real; further, only by believing in the donor’s good intentions does the gift become a good gift for the donee. Only the receiver can make the giver in the full sense of the word. This last point does not play an explicit position in Luther’s theology; however, it is clearly detectable: most obviously in Luther’s often cited commentary on Galatians 3:6 from 1531. Here, we find the striking formulation that faith is the creator of divinity; however, not in God “but in us.”37 In the subsequent paragraph, Luther repeats that faith justifies by giving God his due. This formulation should be compared to the introduction to the lecture where Luther clearly distinguishes between divine passive righteousness and human active righteousness.38 Luther’s active use of reciprocal figures occurs simultaneously with his emphasis on human passivity. In the perspective of gift-exchange dynamics, Luther in Galatians 3:6 takes into account that in order for a giver to be giver also for the receiver, the receiver has to accept the giver’s status. In Luther’s words: to give God the honor.39 Luther’s understanding of the creativity of the God honoring faith recognizes from the perspective of gift theories the interplay between giver and receiver, where the mutual recognition between the partners becomes central. So far, justification can be understood as mutual recognition. The question is whether justification is best understood as an opening of reciprocity,40 realized in the subsequent sanctification, or already the realization of a mutual relation between God and human beings. The latter would mean that the mutual relation between God and human being is the very gift of justification.

Gift, Modernity, and Unsolved Problems

The discussion of Luther’s theology of the gift is strongly linked to the discussion on the relation between modernity and the understanding of gift. In comparison with preceding epochs, modernity emphasizes a dichotomy of altruistic gift, with no benefit for the giver, and economic contract, where the aim and motive of all giving is personal profit. If Luther is seen as the one who radicalizes Pauline theology by unilateralizing divine giving, as argued by Barclay,41 then he can be seen as the one who laid an important stepping stone for the modern dichotomy of pure gift and exchange. According to readers like William Cavanaugh, Luther’s break with the sacrifice of the mass served as a bridge from the medieval organic understanding of society to the modern contractual conception of social processes.42 Luther highlights a fundamental difference between the sacrifice as something human beings give and the promise as something human beings receive without preconditions, and since the same thing cannot be both given and accepted by the same person, the Lord’s Supper cannot be a sacrifice. By this break between sacramental giving and human reciprocity, it is argued that Luther prepares the ground for modern individualistic capitalism; Luther is, hereby, desacralizing the world, as also argued by Charles Taylor.43 However, if one does not accept an absolute dichotomy of gift and exchange, since such an understanding would strip the gift of all aspects linking it to social relations,44 then Luther’s theology does not fit into this scheme. Luther’s understanding of divine giving involves a human giving back in faith,45 where the human subject is not seen as independent but as united with the given Christ. In order to secure at the same time divine unilateralism and salvation as a renewed fellowship built upon the mutuality of love, the positions involved in the process of giving and giving back have to be multiply occupied.46 In Luther’s happy exchange, Christ and the soul are united and the human agent becomes an agent with a double “nature,” as Luther explains in his Freedom of a Christian. From this perspective, Luther is not desacralizing the world; rather, he is sacralizing it, seeing in all worldly things the divine giver giving his gift.

This fundamental aspect of Luther’s theology of the gift opens for a metaphysical dimension that, according to Martin Wendte, positions Luther’s theology in contrast to the technological age of modernity, marked by a culture of representation. Luther belongs, instead, to a culture of presence.47 In the world, God is present through his continuous self-giving and through repeated revelation of his true intention in Word and sacrament. Luther’s theology of the gift is simultaneously a theology of the Word, which can, according to Wendte, be illuminated through the phenomenology of Jean-Luc Marion, in which the concepts of “excess” and “saturated phenomena” are seemingly close to fundamental characteristics of Luther’s understanding of divine giving.48 It remains, however, to be clarified if Luther’s understanding of giving in his late writings on the Lord’s Supper really is closer to Marion’s idea of anonymous giving than to Mauss’s idea of gift giving as a social fundamental.

It remains an issue for Luther research to determine how deeply Luther’s uses of gift terminology depends on the structures of human gift giving, or if it remains a concept of its own. If giver and gift are identical in divine giving—and if human beings are both receivers and beneficiaries and therefore receivers of God as gift—does Luther’s giving God then share his giver status, which according to Mauss is the superior position? Further, does Luther “solve” the master–slave problem before Hegel?49 If the giving God shares his position with the human being, then the question of the relation between Luther’s theology of the gift and the anthropological gift economy is intimately related to the question of how penetrating the doctrine of communicatio idiomatum is in his theology. This question has its counterpart in Luther’s understanding of Christian ethics: Does Luther’s emphasis on human beings helping their neighbors not by giving them gifts but by assisting them in their actual needs, break with the dynamics of gift exchange,50 or does it direct neighborly love in such a way that neighborly love aims at sharing the giver position with the receiver in the same way as Christ shares and exchanges his position with the sinful human being? The discussion on Luther’s theology of the gift ends inevitably in one of how far Luther’s Christology and Trinitarian thinking go. If Luther’s late writing on the Lord’s Supper can be read as an elaboration of Luther’s theology of the gift, then it remains to be clarified how his later position related to his earlier writing, where, according to Wolfgang Simon, a specific version of human sacrifice becomes integrated.

Review of Literature

Gift studies in Luther research does not follow a single line and the majority of studies are either German or Scandinavian in origin. While several studies on the role of gift giving in theology can be found in English, only a few relate directly to Luther research.51

The first analyses of gift and gift giving in relation to Luther’s theology are placed outside Luther research in a strict sense, although carried out by a profound Luther scholar. Criticizing the Kantian categorical imperative as ethical foundation, the Luther scholar and systematic Theologian Oswald Bayer coined his concept of categorical giving in the early 1980s, nominating the word “gift” as a primordial word in Theology (“Urwort der Theologie”). He saw this as a clear continuation of Luther’s theology. Bayer’s work has inspired many later works on Luther and gift, although Bayer himself only touched the necessity of discussing the theological use of the gift with anthropological studies.52 In direct connection to Luther research, Bayer developed his gift approach in Martin Luther’s Theology, identifying the only possible return gift to God in faith’s letting God be God: that is, in acknowledging God as the only giver.53 At the Luther congress in 1983, German Luther scholar Martin Seils marked another reference point for gift approaches in Luther research when he pointed at Luther’s theology of giving as the center for his theology.54 Although neither Bayer nor Seils related their studies explicitly to the anthropological gift discourse, their works were an important stepping stone, although Seils later distanced himself from the anthropological line of Luther studies.

The work of Marcel Mauss, which has been the major reference point for the majority of gift studies in various fields, was first introduced in relation to Lutheran Theology in Günter Bader’s Symbolik des Todes from 1988 in discussing the economy of death and sacrifice, but without referring directly to Luther. Bader, however, made an important link between the discussion of gift exchange in the Maussian tradition and the happy exchange, known from Roman liturgy.55 In Hans-Martin Gutmann’s Über Liebe und Herrschaft from 1991, Mauss was used directly in Luther research.56 In 1998, a volume of Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosphie dedicated to Luther’s Freedom of a Christian contained an article on justification as “opened reciprocity” by Dietrich Korsch,57 and one on blessed economy by Bo Kristian Holm.58 The latter was followed up by the monograph Gabe und Geben bei Luther in 2006, arguing for a necessary relation between the doctrine of justification and mutuality in order to interpret Luther’s use of reciprocal metaphors correctly.59

Within Finnish Luther research in the wake of Tuomo Mannermaa, there has been a specific emphasis on the role of divine self-giving, especially by scholars such as Simo Peura and Antti Raunio.60 Luther played a leading role in Risto Saarinen’s God and the Gift from 2005, where he made a crucial distinction between a giver-oriented and a receiver-oriented perspective, where the former made it possible to integrate some kind of mutuality in interpreting divine grace.61 By introducing a four-position scheme in the analyses of gift giving, distinguishing between giver, gift, receiver and beneficiary, inspired by Augustine and Seneca, Saarinen had made important distinctions possible. These help in understanding the relations between the traditional soteriology of satisfaction, following a traditional four-position scheme of sacrifice leaving the human being not the receiver of Christ’s sacrifice, but the beneficiary, and Luther’s version, which emphasizes divine self-giving in love, identifying the giver and the gift in Christ, and receiver and beneficiary in the human being.

This line has been taken up by Miikka Anttila, who has used the concept of gift and return to explain the role of music in Luther’s Theology, allowing for a giving back in praise, thereby adding important nuances to the understanding of both Luther’s theology and his aesthetics.62

Saarinen argued in his book for an important ecumenical potential in the gift discourse. A similar claim was also the point of departure for the German DFG-Network Gabe, which among the publications around this network counts a number on Luther and the gift.63 The leader, the Catholic theologian Veronika Hoffmann, published in 2013 her Skizzen zu einer Theologie der Gabe, where Luther plays a central role as discussion partner.

As a side branch of the gift discussion and in the wake of Radical Orthodoxy, William Cavanaugh has argued that Luther’s sacramental break with the sacrifice of the mass meant a farewell to the idea of society as an organism bound together by internal mutuality. Instead of organic sociality came the dichotomy of gift and contract burdening modernity. Cavanaugh’s argument has been criticized by Piotr Malysz, who advocates for a necessary element of gift exchange in Luther’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper. A parallel argument, however, without discussing Cavanaugh, can be found in Wolfgang Simon’s work on Luther’s theology of the sacrifice of the Mass.64

The focus on divine self-giving corresponds with an increasing emphasis on the late works of Luther, with his Confession concerning Christ’s Supper from 1528 as the most important piece for understanding the fundamental role of self-giving in Luther’s theology. The relation between gift and self-giving expands the gift discourse toward ontology and metaphysics. The whole complex of justification, giving, and ontology was discussed in the anthology Word—Gift—Being from 2009.65 The relation between giving and metaphysics found its hitherto most extensive elaboration in Martin Wendte’s Die Gabe und das Gestell. Wendte’s combination of a theology of the gift with a theology of the Word made it possible for him to integrate central aspects of Finnish Luther research in his attempt to establish a Lutheran metaphysis in opposition to a technical-based approach to reality in modernity.66 In Wendte’s reading, the reciprocal aspects of giving are, however, denied.

The wish to avoid any kind of reciprocity regarding Luther’s use of the gift has been seen as a central issue in securing the right relation between divine and human giving. Sammeli Juntunen has argued from a Finnish point of view for the necessity of a unilateral gift emphasizing the aspect of creatio ex nihilo in Luther.67 Martin Seils wrote in 2009 an article with the title “Gabe und Geschenk: Eine Zugabe,” arguing that Luther’s use of gift language indicated a unilateral, almost physical understanding of giving as contrast to a reciprocal and social.68 Bernt Hamm has stressed a similar point in arguing that the religious revolution in the reformation was Luther’s understanding of justification as pure gift with no return.69

An uncompromised stress on the unilaterality of divine giving can be found in the works of Ingolf U. Dalferth, who maintains that the receiver in Luther’s theology receives his or her position in absolute passivity allowing for no kind of answer or return. Any kind of human answer has to be understood as belonging to the sphere of sanctification.70

In recent studies, Saarinen has argued for a linguistic approach to the concept of gift, claiming that the unilaterality of the gift already lies in the language itself. In this way, a linguistic approach can help secure the unilaterality of divine giving by locating it in the language.71 More research into the relation between linguistic analyses and social behavior is necessary, not least regarding Luther’s own wide understanding of language, which allows for an understanding of the Word of God that includes natural things as well.

Further Reading

Barclay, John M. G. Paul and the Gift. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015.Find this resource:

Bayer, Oswald. “Gift: II. Systematic Theology.” In Religion in Past and Present. vol. 5. Edited by Hans Dieter Betz et al., 431–432. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998.Find this resource:

Bayer, Oswald. „Ethics of Gift.“ Lutheran Quarterly 24 (2010): 447–468.Find this resource:

Bourdieu, Pierre. „Marginalia—Some Additional Notes on the Gift.“ In The Logic of the Gift: Towards an Ethic of Generosity. Edited by Alan D. Schrift, 231–241. New York: Routledge, 1997.Find this resource:

Dalferth, Ingolf U. Becoming Presence. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2006.Find this resource:

Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. Translated by David Wills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Gutmann, Hans-Martin. Über Liebe und Herrschaft: Luthers Verständnis von Intimität und Autorität im Kontext des Zivilisationsprozesses. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991.Find this resource:

Hamm, Berndt. “Martin Luther’s Revolutionary Theology of Pure Gift without Reciprocation.” Lutheran Quarterly 29 (2015): 125–161.Find this resource:

Hénaff, Marcel. The Price of Truth: Gift, Money, and Philosophy. Translated by Jean-Louis Morhange. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Hoffmann, Veronika, ed. „Gabe“—Ein„ Urwort“ der Theologie. Frankfurt: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 2009.Find this resource:

Hoffmann, Veronika. Skizzen zu einer Theologie der Gabe: Rechtfertigung—Opfer—Eucharistie—Gottes- und Nächstenliebe. Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 2013.Find this resource:

Hoffmann, Veronka, Ulrike Link-Wieczorek, and Christof Mandry, eds. Die Gabe: Zum Stand der interdisziplinären Diskussion. Freiburg: Verlag Karl Alber, 2016.Find this resource:

Holm, Bo Kristian. Gabe und Geben bei Luther: Das Verhältnis zwischen Reziprozität und reformatorischer Rechtfertigungslehre. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006.Find this resource:

Holm, Bo Kristian, and Peter Widmann, eds. Word—Gift—Being: Justification—Economy—Ontology. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.Find this resource:

Malysz, Piotr. “Exchange and Ecstasy: Luther’s Eucharistic Theology in Light of Radical Orthodoxy’s Critique of Gift and Sacrifice.” Scottish Journal of Theology 60 (2007): 294–308.Find this resource:

Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Translated by W. D. Halls. London: Routledge, 1990.Find this resource:

Peura, Simo. “What God Gives Man Receives: Luther on Salvation.” In Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther. Edited by Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, 76–95. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.Find this resource:

Raunio, Antti. Summe des christlichen Lebens: Die “Goldene Regel” als Gesetz der Liebe in der Theologie Martin Luthers von 1520 bis 1527. Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz: Abteilung für abendländische Religionsgeschichte 160 Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern 2001.Find this resource:

Saarinen, Risto. God and the Gift: An Ecumenical Theology of Giving. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Saarinen, Risto. “The Language of Giving in Theology.” Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 52 (2010): 268–301.Find this resource:

Seils, Martin. “Die Sache Luthers.” Lutherjahrbuch 52 (1985): 64–80.Find this resource:

Seils, Martin. „Gabe und Geschenk: Eine Zugabe.“ In Denkraum Katechismus: Festgabe für Oswald Bayer zum 70. Geburtstag. Edited by Johannes von Lüpke and Edgar Thaidigsmann, 43–72. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.Find this resource:

Simon, Wolfgang. “Worship and Eucharist.” Dialog 42 (2008): 143–156.Find this resource:

Wendte, Martin. Die Gabe und das Gestell. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.Find this resource:


(1.) Cf. Marcel Hénaff, The Price of Truth: Gift, Money, and Philosophy, trans. Jean-Louis Morhange (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010), 242–290.

(2.) For a survey of theories, see Iris Därmann, Theorien der Gabe: Zur Einführung (Hamburg: Junius, 2010). Marcel Hénaff, Die Gabe der Philosophen: Gegenseitigkeit neu denken (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2014). See also Martin Wendte, ”Ansprechende Gabe: Luther und das Gabe-Theorem: Intrinsische Verbindungen, weitete Kontaktpunkte und Impulse,“ Jahrbuch für Biblische Theologie 27 (2012): 321–340, at 321.

(3.) Cf. Hénaff, The Prise of Truth, 268f.

(4.) Jacques Derrida, Given Time: I. Counterfeit Money, trans. Peggy Kamuf (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992). In his later work Derrida modifies his skepticism toward reciprocity and talks of an economy “ambiguous enough to seem to integrate noneconomy.” See Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 109.

(5.) Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, trans. W. D. Halls (London: Routledge, 1997).

(6.) William T. Cavanaugh, “Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Social Imagination,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 31.3 (2001): 585–605.

(7.) “Lectures on the Psalms” (1513–1515), in LW 11:403; WA 4:269, 25–26.

(8.) Cf. The Institutes of Justinian, I, 1: “Justice is the constant and perpetual wish to render everyone his due” (Iustitia est constans et perpetura volunatas ius suum cuique tribuendi).

(9.) Quoted by Luther in a sermon from 1516 on Matt. 18:28; WA 1:89–94.

(10.) Aristotle, Topics, 125a18.

(11.) Hénaff, The Price of Truth, 267f.

(12.) Alvin W. Gouldner, “The Norm of Reciprocity: A Preliminary Statement,” American Sociological Review 25 (1960): 161–178.

(13.) Cf. Risto Saarinen, God and the Gift: An Ecumenical Theology of Giving (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005), 1.

(14.) Mauss, The Gift. Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship, trans. James Harle Bell, John Richard von Sturner, and Rodney Needham (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), 52–68.

(15.) Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice, trans. Richard Nice (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990); and Pierre Bourdieu, „**Marginalia—Some Additional Notes on the Gift,“ in The Logic of the Gift: Towards an Ethic of Generosity, ed. Alan D. Schrift (New York: Routledge, 1997), 231–241.

(16.) Smalcald Articles, BC 311 (BSLK 435).

(17.) “Sermon on St. Andrew’s Day (Mt. 4:20)” (1516), in WA 1:102, 15–18.

(18.) “The Fourth Penitential Psalm,” in WA 1:194, 6–14. Worth noticing is the fact that Melanchthon does not make the same move and continues to understand divine righteousness in contrast to the suum cuique principle: cf. Philipp Melanchthon, Ethicae Doctrina Elementa et Enarratio: Libri quinti Ethicorum, ed. Günter Frank and Michael Beyer (Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog, 2008), 144.

(19.) “Preface to Romans” (1522), in LW 35:371; WA DB 7:11, 28–35.

(20.) Saarinen, God and the Gift, 2–8.

(21.) “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ and the Brotherhoods,” in LW 35:49–73; WA 2:742–758. To this see also Jari Jolkkonen, “Eucharist,” in Engaging Luther: A (New) Theological Assessment, ed. Olli-Pekka Vainio (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), 108–137.

(22.) “Lectures on Galatians” (1535), in LW 26:227; WA 40/I:360, 11–361, 1 (Hs).

(23.) Martin Wendte, Die Gabe und das Gestell: Luthers Metaphysik des Abendmahls im technischen Zeitalter, Collegium Metaphysicum 7 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 331.

(24.) “Sermon on Two Kinds of Righteousness” (1519), in LW 31:297–366; WA 2:145–152.

(25.) “Freedom of a Christian” (1520), in LW 31:343–377; WA 7:49–73.

(26.) Marshall D. Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (London: Tavistock Publications, 1974), 185–275.

(27.) Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice.

(28.) See Bo Kristian Holm, “Justification and Reciprocity: ‘Purified Gift-Exchange’ in Luther and Milbank,” in Word—Gift—Being: Justification—Economy—Ontology, Religion in Philosophy and Theology 37 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 87–116, at 102–117.

(29.) Risto Saarinen, “Gunst und Gabe: Melanchthon, Luther und die existentielle Anwendung von Senecas ‚Über die Wohltaten,” in Kein Anlass zur Verwendung: Studien zur Hermeneutik des ökumenischen Gesprächs: Festschrift für Otto Hermann Pesch, eds. Johannes Brosseder and Markus Wriedt (Frankfurt: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 2007), 184–197.

(30.) Seneca, De Beneficiis 1: 2, 3. For this, see Saarinen, God and the Gift, 43f.

(31.) See Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 95–119.

(32.) Wolfgang Simon, Die Messopfertheologie Martin Luthers: Voraussetzungen, Genese, Gestalt und Rezeption, Spätmittelalter und Reformation, Neue Reihe 22 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003); and „Worship and Eucharist in Luther Studies,“ Dialog 42 (2008): 143–156.

(33.) See Jolkonen, “Eucharist.”

(34.) “Confession concerning Christ’s Supper” (1528), in LW 37:366; WA 26:505, 38–506, 12.

(35.) For the chosen terminology, see Risto Saarinen, “Theology of Giving as Comprehensive Lutheran Theology,” in Transformations of Luther’s Theology: Historical and Contemporary Reflections, Arbeiten zur Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte 32, eds. Christine Helmer and Bo K. Holm (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2011), 141–159.

(36.) This opinion is put forward by Jari Jolkonen. See also the discussion between Dorothea Wendebourg and Wolfgang Simon: Simon, “Worshop and Eucharist”; Dorothea Wendebourg, Essen zum Gedächtnis: Der Gedächtnisbefehl in den Abendmahlstheologien der Reformation, Beiträge zur historischen Theologie 148 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).

(37.) “Commentary on Galatians” (1535), in LW 26:227; WA 40/I:360, 5f (Hs).

(38.) “Commentary on Galatians” (1535), in LW 26:4–12; WA 40/I:40–51.

(39.) For Luther’s understanding of honor in the divine–human relation, see Sasja Mathiasen Stopa, “Soli Deo honor et gloria: The Concepts of Honour and Glory in the Theology of the Young Martin Luther,” in Anthropological Reformations: Anthropology in the Era of Reformation, R5AS 28, eds. Anne Eusterschulte and Hannah Wälzholz (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015), 229–244.

(40.) Dietrich Korsch, „Freiheit als Summe: Über die Gestalt christlichen Lebens nach Martin Luther,“ Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 40 (1998): 139–166.

(41.) John M. G. Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015), 97–116. For the relation between Paul’s and Luther’s understanding of divine giving, see Bo Kristian Holm, “Beyond Juxtaposing Luther and the ‘New Perspective on Paul’: A Common Quest for the ‘Other’ Way of Giving,” Lutherjahrbuch 80 (2013): 159–183.

(42.) Cavanaugh, 586.

(43.) Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2007).

(44.) See, e.g., Hénaff, Die Gabe der Philosophen.

(45.) See Piotr Malysz’s critique of Cavanaugh in Piotr Malysz, “Exchange and Ecstasy: Luther’s Eucharistic Theology in Light of Radical Orthodoxy’s Critique of Gift and Sacrifice,” Scottish Journal of Theology 60 (2007): 294–308.

(46.) See Veronika Hoffmann, Skizzen zu einer Theologie der Gabe: Rechtfertigung—Opfer—Eucharistie—Gottes- und Nächstenliebe (Freiburg: Verlag Herder, 2013), 451–464.

(47.) Wendte, Die Gabe und das Gestell, 329ff. See also Joachim von Soosten, „Präsenz und Repräsentation: Die Marburger Unterscheidung,“ in Die Gegenwart Jesu Christi im Abendmahl, ed. Dietrich Korsch (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2006), 99–122.

(48.) Wendte, Die Gabe und das Gestell, 335–340.

(49.) G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 111–119.

(50.) See Wendte, Die Gabe und das Gestell, 347.

(51.) E.g., Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005).

(52.) Oswald Bayer, “Gift: II. Systematic Theology,” in Religion in Past and Present, Vol. 5, eds. Hans Dieter Betz et al. (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998), 431–432.

(53.) Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation, trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 154–176.

(54.) Martin Seils, “Die Sache Luther,” Lutherjahrbuch 52 (1985): 64–80.

(55.) Günter Bader, Symbolik Des Todes Jesu (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr, 1988), 258, 105–135.

(56.) Hans-Martin Gutmann, Über Liebe und Herrschaft: Luthers Verständnis von Intimität und Autorität im Kontext des Zivilisationsprozesses, Göttinger theologische Arbeiten 47 (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991).

(57.) Dietrich Korsch, „Freiheit als Summe: Über die Gestalt christlichen Lebens nach Martin Luther,“ Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 40 (1998): 139–156.

(58.) Bo Kristian Holm, „Wechsel Ohnegleichen: Über die Grundstruktur der Rechtfertigung und Heiligung und das Austauschen Von ‘Gaben’ in Luthers ‘Tractatus De Libertate Christiana,“ Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 40 (1998): 182–196.

(59.) Bo Kristian Holm, Gabe und Geben bei Luther: Das Verhältnis Zwischen Reziprozität und Reformatorischer Rechtfertigungslehre, Theologische Bibliothek Töpelman 134 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006).

(60.) Simo Peura, “Christ as Favor and Gift: The Challenge of Luther’s Understanding of Justification,” in Union with Christ: The New Finnish Interpretation of Luther, ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 42–69. Simo Peura, “What God Gives Man Receives: Luther on Salvation,” in ibid., 76–95. Antti Raunio, Summe des christlichen Lebens: Die “Goldene Regel” als Gesetz der Liebe in der Theologie Martin Luthers von 1520 bis 1527, Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz: Abteilung für abendländische Religionsgeschichte 160 (Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2001).

(61.) Saarinen, God and the Gift.

(62.) Miikka E. Anttila, Luther’s Theology of Music: Spiritual Beauty and Pleasure, Theologische Bibliothek Töpelmann 161 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013).

(63.) Die Gabe: Ein “Urwort” der Theologie?, ed. Veronika Hoffmann (Frankfurt: Verlag Otto Lembeck, 2009); Okumenisches Rundschau 60.2 (2011); and Gabe und Rechtfertigung; Die Gabe: Zum Stand der interdisziplinären Diskussion, Scientia & Religio 14, ed. Veronka Hoffmann, Ulrike Link-Wieczorek, and Christof Mandry (Freiburg: Verlag Karl Alber, 2016).

(64.) Cavanaugh, “Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Social Imagination”; Malysz, “Exchange and Ecstasy”; and Simon, Die Messopfertheologie Martin Luthers.

(65.) Bo Kristian Holm and Peter Widmann, eds., Word—Gift—Being: Justification—Economy—Ontology, Religion in Philosophy and Theology 37 (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebek, 2009), 213.

(66.) Martin Wendte, Die Gabe und das Gestell: Luthers Metaphysik des Abendmahls im Technischen Zeitalter (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2013), 516.

(67.) Sammeli Juntunen, “The Notion of ‘Gift’ (Donum) in Luther’s Thinking,” in Luther between Present and Past, eds. Ulrik Nissen and others (Helsinki: Luther-Agricola-Gesellschaft, 2004), 51–69.

(68.) Martin Seils, „Gabe und Geschenk: Eine Zugabe,“ in Denkraum Katechismus: Festgabe für Oswald Bayer zum 70. Geburtstag, eds. Johannes von Lüpke and Edgar Thaidigsmann (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 43–72.

(69.) Berndt Hamm, „Martin Luther’s Revolutionary Theology of Pure Gift without Reciprocation,“ Lutheran Quarterly 29 (2015): 125–161.

(70.) Ingolf U. Dalferth, Becoming Present: An Inquiry into the Christian Sense of the Presence of God, Studies in Philosophical Theology 30 (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2006), 169–210; and Ingolf U. Dalferth, “Mere Passive: Die Passivität der Gabe bei Luther,” in Holm and Widmann, Word—Gift—Being, 43–72.

(71.) Risto Saarinen, “The Language of Giving in Theology,” Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 52 (2010): 268–301; and Risto Saarinen, “Reclaiming the Sentences: A Linguistic Loci Approach to Doctrine,” Neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 54 (2012): 1–22.