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date: 19 August 2017

Martin Luther’s Teaching on Sin

Summary and Keywords

Martin Luther did not write a specific treatise solely on sin. Nevertheless, the topic of sin is important to him. There are very few treatises where the topic of sin does not appear, as there are few treatises where Luther would not use Scripture as the base for his argumentation. Luther’s hermeneutical preconditions for development of the doctrine on sin are both Old Testament and New Testament passages. The beginning of Luther’s doctrine of sin is tied to his discovery of Augustine’s anti-Pelagian writings during his “Lectures on Romans” (1515–1516). Luther equated concupiscence with original sin and reasoned about human passivity in the process of salvation. With the formulation of new reformational theology, the emphasis on original sin as the corruption of bodily and spiritual powers in its universal, total, and radical aspect grew. Luther came to the conviction that peccatum radicale is unbelief in God, a distrust in Christ’s promises, as clearly expressed in his treatise “The Freedom of a Christian.” The reformer did not develop his teaching on original sin from some sort of “original state theology.” A helpful tool to approach Luther is to use the parable from New Testament (Matt. 7:16–20 and 12:33, Luke 6:43–45) about a good tree bearing good fruits. This motive became the central place in the iconographic depiction of the process of salvation by Lucas Cranach’s woodcut Law and Grace (1529/1530). In its illustrative power it offers generally understandable conclusions and is pedagogically effective: good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works; evil works do not make a wicked man, but a wicked man does evil works. Under the law, the sinner is entirely and totally without good fruits coram deo. Luther became firmly convinced that the true nature of sin is to be found entirely in peccatum radicale and not in peccatum actuale. The essence of the “root sin” is the disobedience to the first commandment and unbelief as lack of trust in God’s promises. Luther was rather unspeculative on the question about the origin of sin. His radical perspective related to sin has the advantage of being able to point to the tragical effect of sin on human beings bearing “fruits of sin”, making them captive to self-destructive conditions as perdition. Luther’s doctrine of sin is holistic, and it formed his homiletical, catechetical, and pastoral language with the conviction that “making sin great” is inseparably connected with exalting only God’s grace and salvation only in Christ only through faith.

Keywords: Martin Luther, peccatum radicale, fruits of sin, concupiscence, unbelief, perdition

Martin Luther distinguished between original sin (peccatum originale) and a transgression of the law of God, which is actual sin (peccatum actuale/peccata actualia). The term peccatum originis (Ursünde) is used by Luther when he spoke about the first sin of Adam and Eve in Paradise. The German term Erbsünde can be translated as “inherited sin” (peccatum hereditare). It expresses the notion of the whole of the human race submerged in sin.

Especially from 1517 onward, a development can be observed in Luther’s doctrine on sin. The German term Suxnde moved steadily away from the description of the actual sin toward the meaning of original sin. Generally speaking, for Luther, the notion of original sin expresses the notion of the corruption of body and spiritual powers in its universal, total, and radical aspect (cf. Ps. 111:16, Job 14:4, Rom. 3:19, Rom. 5:12), and he uses terms like universale peccatum, generale peccatum, or more precisely totum peccatum, peccatum perpetuum, and—a term not used among Scholastics—peccatum radicale, root sin.1

The beginning of Luther’s reformational doctrine of sin is tied to his discovery of Augustine’s (354–430) anti-Pelagian writings during Luther’s “Lectures on Romans” (1515–1516). A letter to Spalatin from October 19, 1516, records his new discovery caused by reading a volume of Augustine’s anti-Pelagian writings in Amerbach’s reprint from 1506.2 From this point on, Luther’s main focus shifted to the effect of aversion from God causing the concupiscence. It developed in debate about the relationship of original sin and concupiscence, started Luther’s thinking about human (in)abilities in the process of salvation, and reached its climax in the understanding of original sin as unbelief in the Gospel of Christ. Contrary to the Nominalist hamartiology, in which the “tinder of sin” (fomes peccati), as a consequence of first sin in Paradise, was generally understood as punishment for the loss of original righteousness but not as sin itself.3 Luther interpreted Augustine’s teaching in the sense that concupiscence is sin. A reference to a passage from Augustine’s treatise Contra Julianum demonstrates this change effectively:

Therefore, act of sin (as it is called by the theologians) is more correctly sin in the sense of the work and fruit of sin, but sin itself is the passion, the tinder, and the concupiscence, or the inclination, toward evil and the difficulty of doing good, as he says below (Rom. 7:7) “I should not have known concupiscence to be sin” … so also sin is the actual turning away from good and the inclination toward evil. And the works of sin are the fruits of this sin.4

Before dealing with Luther’s doctrine on sin in detail, it is helpful to point to a parable from the New Testament (Matt. 7:16–20 and 12:33 and Luke 6:43–45) about a good tree that bears good fruits and a bad tree that bears bad fruits; for a tree is known by its own fruits. The implication is that the good person out of a good heart produces good, and the evil person out of an evil heart produces evil. The symbol of a tree, its fruits, and implicitly its root is actually often used in Luther’s language related to sin. He used it as a metaphor for the expression of peccata actualia as “evil fruits” and as a suitable metaphor for employing the more profound sinful state of man as an “evil tree.” An excellent depiction of this motive can to be found on the woodcut from Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553), entitled Law and Grace (1529/1530) (Figure 1).5

Martin Luther’s Teaching on SinClick to view larger

Figure 1: Lucas Cranach the Elder, Gesetz und Gnade, 1529/1530, woodcut.

By permission of The Trustees of the British Museum.

There is a good reason to believe that Luther helped to develop the composition and selected the biblical motives to underline the theological message of the picture. The use of biblical texts in visual art joined with a clear theological framework makes the print of Cranach an effective tool for spreading the reformational doctrine in a very understandable way.

The large tree dividing the print into two parts is central not only through its placement but also through its meaning. The tree is dry and green simultaneously. At the first glance, it looks half dry and half alive at once. However, this kind of thinking would be distant from Luther’s mind. It should not be interpreted in the sense of a possible progress in faith either, as though a baptized and believing person would become more alive through infused grace. It is correct to say that the tree belongs to both halves of the picture according in its entirety. On the side of the law, the tree is entirely and totally dry. On the side of grace (or more exactly of the Gospel), the tree is totally green. Luther’s idea of simul iustus et peccator—which appeared for the first time in “Lectures on Romans” in 15166—is expressed with the tree on this woodcut. A person is simultaneously totally sinful and totally righteous coram deo: sinful in itself, just in faith.

Another important idea expressed in the image of the tree is the fact that every tree lives only because it is sustained and nourished by its own root. Perhaps there is a tree with no fruits, but there is no tree without roots. The fundamental change in Luther’s hamartiology is expressed by the notion that the quality of tree does not define its fruits: “Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works; evil works do not make a wicked man, but a wicked man does evil works.”7 The accent shifted to the source of sustenance and nourishment of a tree, to its roots. Luther called the original sin the peccatum radicale and the main focus became directed to the center of every human being. The root of all spiritual capabilities coram deo rests in the human “heart.”8 According to Luther, the Bible reveals that every human heart is corrupted by original sin radically: making every single human being an utterly dry tree.

Finally, the very important notion expressed by Cranach’s woodcut is that Luther’s doctrine of sin is not formed by metaphysical or dogmatic preconceptions and even less by psychological experiences, such as a difficult childhood, an uneasy relationship to his parents, or his exaggerated monastic sincerity. The source for Luther’s hamartiology is the Scripture, and the reformational discovery of the theological use of the law and the Gospel.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Luther’s first serious theological inquiry related to the doctrine of sin was his exegetical effort to clarify distinctions in Hebrew terminology.9 It began already in his Dictata super Psalterium (1513–1515), first lectures on Psalms, continued into his “Lectures on Romans” (1515–1516), and his exposition and translation into German of “Seven Penitential Psalms” (1517/1525). Luther’s use of sin-related terminology translated from Hebrew became stable and methodical after his second lecture on Psalms, Operationes in Psalmos (1519–1521). Hebrew words pęscha and aon were related to peccata actualia as “transgression of the law” or “unrighteousness confirmed by evil deed.” The Hebrew term hattaa gradually became equated with the fundamentally wrong attitude of a heart where God is no longer present as the ultimate goal and inclining to evil as original sin. This is not a moral wrongdoing. It implies to live a life that is missing one’s own life at the end. At last, the Hebrew word rascha as rude Godlessness was designated for evil.10

Luther’s immersion in biblical language gave him the opportunity to express the wide spectrum of broken human relationships to God, the created world, and oneself. Besides classical passages like Genesis 2–3, Genesis 8, Psalms 32 and 51, Matthew, 7:17–19, 12:33, and Romans 1–7, the list of relevant biblical texts would include basically most biblical books.11

However, Luther’s interest in understanding sin was not only exegetical. The doctrine of sin belongs, according to Luther, to the center of the “subject matter of Theology” as Luther stated in his famous “Lecture on Psalm 51” in 1532. Coming from Paul (Rom. 5:18), and building up on Augustine’s De spiritu et litera,12 the whole story of the Bible contains divine and truly theological wisdom of “God who is the Justifier and Redeemer of man.” God approaches people who are “guilty of sin and subject to perdition.”13 Such essential characterization of humans based on hamartiological precondition is fundamental for Luther’s approach to the whole of theology. This is demonstrated in his explanation of the Creed’s second article in the Small Catechism (1529): “Jesus Christ, true God … and also true human being … has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.”14 According to Luther, the proper understanding of sin enables every person to become a good theologian, and a good reader and hearer of Holy Scripture.15 In Luther’s view, it was actually the apostle Paul who hermeneutically connected the biblical passages in the New and Old Testaments and developed a soteriological and anthropological unity in his theology. According to Luther’s hermeneutics, it was entirely biblical to explain Psalms, especially Psalms 51 and 32, in accordance with Romans 3.16 Visually this became obvious when the same motive of Cranach’s woodcut reappeared as the main cover of the revision of Luther’s German translation of the Bible printed by Hans Lust in Wittenberg in 1541.

Development of Luther’s Doctrine of Sin

As early as in his “First Lectures on Psalms” and until the first semester of his “Lectures on Romans,” Luther held the general position that a person could achieve virtue (virtus) and goodness (bonitas) only by grace (gratia). Without grace, the reason turned toward blindness and ignorance (caecitas, ignorantia), the capacity of will turned into wickedness (malitia), and the power of memory diminished to weakness (infirmitas, instabilitas).17 The emphasis rested on the capacity of will, since the will empowered with grace led to the virtue of goodness (bonitas) and the theological virtue of love (caritas) with the goal to love God above everything. Aversion from God turned human beings to created things: “iniquity is that by which a man is turned toward the creature because he prefers its love to the love of God, and that is evil; sin, however, is that by which a man is turned away from God, which is to transgress the commandment and law of God.”18 The formal principle of sin was the lack of original righteousness and of weakness caused by the loss of primary grace. The consequence first sin was becoming a carnal human being and weakening all three powers of the soul.19 The loss of the obedience of the flesh (lower powers) to the spirit (higher powers of the soul) was perceived as “the tinder of sin,” which make up only the material principle of sin, as such, however, without guilt. To sin meant to let the tinder “enflame” through external temptations and thus commit sinful deeds (peccata actualia).

At this time Luther used the medieval catalogue of seven mortal sins. They created total separation from God. Before Easter 1518, Luther published A Brief Explanation of the Decalogue in order to create a new book for preparation for penance. To each commandment of the Decalogue Luther ascribed a particular mortal sin. He saw pride included in the first two commandments, lust and gluttony in the sixth, wrath and envy in the fifth, sloth in the third, and greed in every commandment.20 Even in the “Heidelberg Disputation” (1518), the distinction of mortal and venial sins still played a major role.21 However, after the Reformation breakthrough, Luther ceased to use it entirely. In 1519, in his Eine kurze Unterweisung, wie man beichten soll, Luther gave clear advice to confess only known mortal sins that trouble the conscience in full awareness that even good deeds, without God’s mercy, are only deadly deeds.22

Luther emphasized egocentrical selfish love and contempt for God as the result of original sin.23 Progressively pride became the most important (mortal) sin in Luther’s view. Pride—the opposite of the monastic ideal of the virtue of humility—sets every human under God’s judgement since:

the ungodly and proud man is, first of all, the excuser and defender, the justifier and savior of himself … But in case someone does not yet understand that no one is righteous before God, who alone is justified, the following expresses it more clearly: Behold, I was conceived in iniquity (v. 6) … For we are still unrighteous and unworthy before God, so that whatever we can do is nothing before Him.24

Self-righteousness means the unwillingness to accept the judgement of God over a person’s good deeds as (mortal) sins. Practically, a self-righteous person makes God a liar. The gravity of this sin rests in not giving to God what belongs to Him and ascribing to man what does not belong to him. The Theology of the Cross that played a predominant role from 1517 to 1521 was actually widening this argument by Christological doctrine. A Theologian of the Cross sees God’s righteousness and mercy in the cross, whereas the Theologian of Glory (the natural man) judges according to the (corrupted) judgement of what eyes see and reason thinks.

Gradually, Luther deepened his understanding of the inclination toward evil as a corruption (corruptio) of nature, and not only as its weakening by absenting grace. Luther accepted Augustine’s understanding of concupiscence as every impulse of the spirit to love oneself, one’s own neighbor, or a part of one’s own body as bending everything toward oneself (incurvatio in se ipsum),25 leaving God as summum bonum aside.

During his “Lectures on Romans,” Luther started to interpret all bodily desires as a proof for the active dominion of concupiscence over the sinner’s will.26 He argued, if one is honest, one’s own experiences prove that human sin comes from inside, and the supposedly neutral tinder is an active act of concupiscence. It is such a profound “sickness of nature,”27 desiring only evil, “the loathing of the good; the disdain for light and wisdom but fondness for error and darkness; the avoidance and contempt of good works but an eagerness for doing evil”28 that it cannot be “washed away” even in baptism. Luther claimed that in this regard Augustine was on his side. The guilt of the sin is forgiven in baptism (in reatu), but in reality it remains even after baptism (in actu). Concupiscence is the original sin.29

In fact, Augustine’s passages relate concupiscence to sin but not to original sin as such.30 Nevertheless, Luther did not misread Augustine. Decisive for him was the Pauline use of Psalm 32:1 in Romans 4:7 containing Hebrew terms aon and hattaa: “Blessed are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Luther, influenced by the Augustinian talk regarding the non-imputation of sin, interpreted the verse as non-imputation of original sin (hattaa). The conclusion was clear. Concupiscence remains after baptism; original sin is “covered” and “non-imputed as sin”: ergo, concupiscence is original sin. Luther wrote: “The second word, sin as hattaa and practically everywhere interpreted as sin, I take to refer to the root sin in us or to concupiscence [desire] for evil.”31 This position quickly became the cantus firmus of Lutheran theology.32 Regardless of its condemnation by Leo X in papal bull Exsurge Domine 1520,33 he never gave up this position. Luther elaborated further on his understanding by turning his attention to Galatians 5:16–21 and Romans 7:7–20 as, for example, in his treatise “Against Latomus” (1521). In the final part of his reply to one of Luther’s best opponents (in his eyes), he summarized the core of the problem in a precise statement:

Paul calls that which remains after baptism sin; the fathers call it a weakness and imperfection, rather than sin. Here we stand at the parting of the ways. I follow Paul, and you the fathers—with the exception of Augustine—who generally calls it by the blunt names of fault and iniquity.34

This move led to strong critical objections against scholastic theology, questioning the scholastic understanding of sacramental grace, justification, and virtues and, of course, radicalizing the doctrine on original sin. Original sin is so radical that human beings are always (semper)—up to death—unable to find good. As a consequence, Luther rejected the scholastic notion of syntheresis, the small but steady and inextinguishable inclination to good, which made possible the premise on which the medieval praxis of penance was based, namely the necessity of striving to do good (facere quod in se est).35 Even the minutest motion of the soul is lacking the love to God (caritas dei) from all powers.36 The semper aspect of sin did not allow the possibility of differentiation between the fulfillment of commandments according to the substance of the deed (quoad substantiam facti) or according to the intention of the giver of the commandment (ad intentionem praecipientis).37 The double Commandment of Love (Deut. 6:5–9; Matt. 22:37–40) cannot be fulfilled.38 Regardless of the self-perception of Duns Scotus (1265–1308) or Gabriel Biel (1420–1495) as being orthodox, in Luther’s eyes, as he wrote already in October 1516, their theology led to neo-Pelagian positions.39

Luther’s profound criticism of scholastic theology, starting in “On Capabilities of Man’s Will without the Grace” (1516), moved to statements that without grace human will is enslaved to sin.40 This sharp criticism of scholastic theology reappeared in Disputatio contra scholasticam theologiam (1517), later in the “Heidelberg Disputation” (1518), especially in Thesis 13: “Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.”41 The climax and a definitive stage of Luther’s theology was vigorously formulated in the De servo arbitrio (1525).

One of the most distinctive polarities of Luther’s theology, depicted on the print of Cranach is expressed in Luther’s formula simul iustus et peccator. This does not mean “partly sinner” and “partly just,” but totally sinner. Simultaneously righteous and sinner must be grasped in the new dynamic of the semper movement from sin to righteousness that begins every moment anew and continues without end until death.42 From this perspective, the print of Cranach depicts the history of salvation of humankind and simultaneously the process of justification on a personal level. The law in the personal level accuses the sinner of guilt and perdition. God’s grace can be accepted through the Gospel of Christ in faith only.

Sin of Unbelief

Luther’s understanding of original sin as peccatum radicale gradually became a central part of Luther’s Reformation theology. The parable of a tree bearing good or bad fruits enabled Luther to reverse the association of righteousness with righteous deeds, countering the influence of Aristotle’s ethics, as Luther clearly explained in a letter from October 1516:

For we are not, as Aristotle believes, made righteous by the doing of righteous deeds, unless we deceive ourselves; but rather—if I may say so—in becoming and being righteous people we do righteous deeds. First, it is necessary that the person be changed, then the deeds [will follow].43

For Luther, logically, the tree grows first, then the fruit follows.44 From a hamartiological point of view this diminishes the importance of sinful acts and elevates the importance of original sin. Bad fruit from a tree is only a “visible sign” for the quality of the whole tree: like tree so the fruit. Luther’s “Sermon on Three Kinds of Righteousness” (1518) expresses this clearly. Listing major biblical passages like Psalm 51, Matthew 7 and 12, and Romans 5, Luther explained that out of the “three kinds of sin,” it is “the second kind” of sin, original sin—as “essential, inborn, alien sin” that causes all unrighteousness and merits condemnation of the human essence and its human works—which renders all prior righteousness to be nothing, evil, and cursed: “Either make the tree good and its fruits good, or the tree evil and its fruits evil.”45 The root of a tree, the true essence of sin, cannot rest in the wickedness of deeds, but in the person missing its goal. Luther stated:

It is clear that the fruits do not bear the tree and that the tree does not grow on the fruits, also that, on the contrary, the trees bear the fruits and the fruits grow on the trees. As it is necessary, therefore, that the tree exists before their fruits and the fruits do not make trees either good or bad, but rather as the trees are, so are the fruits they bear; so a man must first be good or wicked before he does a good or wicked work, and his works do not make him good or wicked, but he himself makes his works either good or wicked.46

This should not be misunderstood as if the created human nature is evil in itself. Luther’s position drives one to Augustine’s premise: “If sin is natural, it is not sin at all,”47 sin is in the nature, but not of the nature.

From 1517 onward, Luther was absolutely clear that the principal attitude toward God is human belief or unbelief: “The greatest sin is the sin of unbelief.”48 In his “Brief Explanation of the Decalogue” (1518), Luther stated, “All sons of Adam are idolaters and guilty of the first commandment,”49 which means, as Werner Elert stated, “For Luther the concept of sin was constantly oriented toward God—not toward an impersonal law that was transgressed.”50 Luther’s fundamental notion became that sin and righteousness are based on the relationship of human beings to God. The fundamental form of such a relationship is faith. Instead of thinking in substantial categories (praedicamento substantiae), Luther’s mature theology embraced relational categories (praedicamento relationis).51 This can be illustrated by the image of happy exchange between the “rich and divine bridegroom” and “poor wicked harlot” in Luther’s famous treatise “On the Freedom of a Christian” (1520). Faith is more than notitia or asensus: “By believing do we glorify God and acknowledge that he is truthful.”52 Faith means fidutia in God’s good and trustworthy interest toward a person: “Faith works truth and righteousness by giving God what belongs to him. Therefore, God in turn glorifies our righteousness.”53 The mystical image of a marriage between Christ and poor sinner depicts Cranach’s print Law and Grace in a stream of blood from Jesus’ side touching the chest of Adam. It implies the personal aspect of happy exchange based on the universal meaning of Christ’s death upon of the cross (pro nobis). The dove, symbol of Holy Spirit, adds to this personal aspect the dimension of faith, which is the personal realization of God’s grace (pro me). This example enabled Luther to become very explicit about his comprehension of unbelief precisely in the context of evangelically defined soteriology. Luther talked about faith created by the Word of Christ, by his Gospel (promissio), proclaiming the merciful act of salvation in Christ, the true God and true man: “for nothing makes a man good except faith, or evil except unbelief.”54 Since only faith is the wedding ring, uniting the soul with Christ, so the opposite is a broken relationship with God that is deep-rooted in the human heart from the very beginning of life:55 “What greater rebellion against God, what greater wickedness, what greater contempt of God is there than not believing in his promise? … Does not a man who does this deny God and set himself up as an idol in his heart?”56 Luther spoke about “happy exchange,” but realistically, not about “happy marriage.” The largest vice of the harlot is her lack of truthfulness to her husband, despite the endowed riches and glory she received. Unbelief in Luther’s view though means lack of trust, fidelity, and loyalty to God, more concretely to Jesus Christ.

The corruption of sin is so deep that a person cannot create his own faith; it has to be received from outside as a recreatio ex nihilo.57 For Luther, a meaningful discussion of human original sin is possible only by relating the human being to Christ, as later clearly formulated in Luther’s above-mentioned definition of the subject matter of theology. From 1519, in light of his newly developed reformational teaching, Luther’s understanding of unbelief formed as an active resistance against the Gospel, blasphemy against Christ, a refusal of grace, an abomination of the promise, and not only as an active resistance against the judgement of God in the words of the law condemning a person a sinner, as it was in Luther’s early lecturing career. Luther stated this clearly in his “Preface to Romans” (1522): “The Scriptures look especially into the heart and single out the root and source of all sin, which is unbelief in the inmost heart.”58 This view did not change during Luther’s later years. An excellent example is offered in “The Disputation concerning the Justification” (1536).59 The antithesis of faith and unbelief depicted Cranach in the horizontal line in the background of the woodcut. The antipodes are Eve and Mary, one distrusting the word of God, but the “new Eve” trusting to it. In-between is the motif of the bronze serpent on a pole (Num. 21: 4–9). The punishment of deadly snakes came on Israelites for not trusting the promise of God. Only those who trusted to God’s newly given promise of salvation were healed immediately (Num. 21:9).

Luther’s aim was to show the deep-rooted and radical sinful corruption (radicality) of all human powers (totality) and all people (universality) before God and his judgement,60 causing guilt on the human side. Luther’s definition of the subiectum theologiae was not based on subjective guilt (culpa), but rather on the perception of an objective guilt as perceived in the juridical language talking about a status (reatus). Guilt as a relational term results from a twisted relationship; it means an “injury of personal connection” between man and God.

The Origin of Sin

However, such a connection between original sin and personal guilt seems unjust and even irrational. The term peccatum hereditare may lead to the notion that people inherit the sin of Adam as something foreign to them, or that it is a matter of biological transference (i.e., through sexual intercourse). The New Testament passages in Matthew 7 and 12, and Luke 6 do not give a direct answer, but the print from Cranach is more illustrative: in the far left corner of the print, one sees Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge of god and evil in Paradise. Adam, Eve (or King David, resp. Job), were for Luther historical persons, but simultaneously they were “human types” in general. Cranach’s woodcut depicted the figure of Adam in an anachronistic way; in paradise and under the cross always with the same face. It is one and the same person. Any other person could replace Adam. The status coram deo is for everyone the same. The thick ditch on Cranach’s woodcut makes clear, that there is no way back to a state of innocence. It is possible only to go forward, either on a “run-way” to hell, or on a narrow path to Christ. There is nothing else that made and makes people “unrighteous,” only disbelief in God’s promise. The true essence of the original state of first human beings was not different, and the first sin should be understood as distrust of God’s promise and trust in another’s word rather than God’s. In the beginning was a false faith, sinful acts followed. Luther said in his “Preface to Romans” (1522):

As … faith alone makes a person righteous and brings the Spirit and pleasure in good outward works, so unbelief alone commits sin and brings forth the fleshly pleasure in bad outward works, as happened to Adam and Eve in paradise, Genesis 3.61

The picture of a bad tree bearing bad fruits explains Luther’s position indirectly. If the tree does not become bad on the basis of its bad fruits, and the tree is bad before it starts bearing fruits, then the quality of the tree must be set at the earliest point of its existence. In the realm of human life this is the “conception.” The central biblical passage, Psalm 51:5, “in sin did my mother conceive me,” evokes the understanding that the child inherited the sin of the mother. Luther clearly avoided such an understanding, as seen in the translation of this passage in his new edition of the “Explanation of the Seven Penitential Psalms” (1525). Luther changed the wording “evil act” to “behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.”62 Since original sin corrupted all human powers, even conception is not without sin. This does not mean that conception is sin or evil as such,63 but that sin in human beings is present from the moment of conception. All passages where Luther spoke about “sinful seed” from which the sinner grows can be understood in this way: the “seed” is corrupted but not evil. In the records on the revisions of the translation of the Bible (1531) Luther explained Psalm 51:5 with a vivid image of a plant bearing new seeds of grain, which propagate a new generation.64 It makes clear that those seeds bring forth just the same “kind of grain” and nothing else. Terms like “evil seed” and “sinful seed” express the idea of the “next generation,” that is, the “following generation” being the same in quality as the preceding one. This is in line with Job 14:4; from a sinner can be born nothing else than another sinner. With this, the idea of a connection between all people in one generation and simultaneously the connection of all generations of people through the peccatum radicale is expressed. It is not contradicted by the fact that Luther took Genesis in a literal sense as a fact of history. The emphasis is on the universal character of sin, as for example in his “Confession concerning Christ’s Supper” (1528):

For I confess and am able to prove from Scripture that all have descended from one man, Adam, and from this man, through their birth, they acquire and inherit the fall, guilt and sin, which the same Adam, through the wickedness of the devil, committed in paradise; and thus all people along with him are born, live, and die altogether in sin.65

Questions regarding why God permitted the Fall of human beings are only curious speculations, according to Luther. An extensive discussion on this topic in his “Genesis Lecture” (1535–1545) is rather an exception.66 Thinking about what God does to accomplish human beings’ justification and salvation is more helpful:

Therefore, learn carefully the article about original sin. And you should not argue about why God has permitted what people with an inquisitive bent are accustomed to inquire into. No, you should rather ask how we are rescued and freed from this evil and know that God speaks with us to arouse us to acknowledge it. When it has been acknowledged, he says: “Your sins are forgiven you; take heart, my son (cf. Matt. 9:2) because I have given my Son as a Lamb that is spotless from the beginning.”67

Human righteousness rests, so Luther thought, in faith that trusts the Word of God. Luther understood the first Word of God to human beings as a promise, clearly shown in his “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (1520): “For God does not deal, nor has ever dealt, with man otherwise than through a word of promise, as I have said. We in turn cannot deal with God otherwise than through faith in the Word of his promise.”68 The first temptation to sin, according to Luther, was not the sin of luxuria, as generally thought. It was the questioning of the Word of God through another word. This line of argument appeared again in the Smalcald Articles and was elaborated in a general statement about original sin as spiritual “enthusiasm” that led to disobedience toward God: “This is all the old devil and old snake, who also turned Adam and Eve into enthusiasts and led them from the external Word of God to ‘spirituality’ and their own presumption although he even accomplished this by means of other, external words.”69 God’s speaking opened room for communication. Original righteousness could rest only in the “category of relationship,” in the same way as the righteousness of justified man is iustitia passiva.70 In it, a person finds his “true essence”: likewise, “in unbelief, in sin [he finds] his empty essence, a terrible state of affairs.”71

From his “Lectures on Romans”72 to his mature reformational works, Luther wanted to make clear—again in the parable of a good tree—that just as each tree has its own root, so each person has his or her own original sin. Worth mentioning here is Luther’s famous statement in his Confession of 1528: “I—I myself—I was conceived in sin, and in sin did my mother bear me.”73 Original sin is not a non-personal enslaving power, nor, some sort of structural sin. Nevertheless, Luther was not negligent of a tragical aspect of the sinful state.

The Tragedy of Sin

Luther’s teaching on peccatum radicale unites the universal, total, and radical with the personal and individual moment, enclosing the full responsibility of human beings coram deo. Just as the root rests under the surface, so original sin is not apparent at the first glance; naturally, human beings do not perceive themselves as sinners. Only the word of law can show how deep human sin is. Due to this corruption, the sinner might see the evil act but does not understand its connection to original sin. Cranach depicted Adam under the law in total despair, running away from the devil and death. The deep psychological insight rests in the fact that Adam does not see the end of his path, which is—as the Decalogue in the hands of Moses points—the perdition.

The definition of the subject matter of theology (homo reus et perditus) expresses this situation profoundly. Luther moved beyond a moral understanding of sin as transgression of law making one a “guilty person,” on one side, but was able to transform the Augustinian damned clump of humanity (massa perditionis) from a context of divine predestination, on the opposite side. When Luther said that humans are subjected to perdition, he did not mean eternal death only but everything that destroys human beings74 and consequently leads to damnation. The corruption of reason, of the will, but—for Luther—of the bodily capacities (corporalia) as well, necessarily leads to human rebellion against God: “Original sin itself, therefore, leaves free choice with no capacity to do anything but sin and be damned.”75 The deep-rootedness of sin does not stop at a neutral point of moral indifference but creates evil as it leads to animosity to God and other persons, and to destruction of God’s creation and Gospel proclaimed to the world through the Church.76 At this point the sinner is no longer only an agent of evil. Perdition makes him suffer under its enslaving destructive power. A sinner by oppressing others finally becomes a sinner being oppressed; sin tragically destroys the human being who is actively participating in it. A person without love dies by the lack of love. Indeed, it is a battle within one’s self and a battle over one’s self, in a state of being delivered to sin (cf. Jes. 64:6, Rom. 1:18ff.). The chaos and despair depicted Cranach actually not in hell, but already during Adam’s lifetime. Running Adam is left completely alone. None of the person depicted at the part of the print dedicated to “law” shows compassion to Adam. Under the law a deep lack of love becomes apparent.

Luther’s use of the biblical image of a good tree bearing good fruits means that a tree can only live as long as it is connected to its roots. On the other hand, as long as the tree lives, it is not without fruit. There is not a single original sinner who would be able to avoid peccata actualia during his lifetime. The story of King David, using his committing of adultery with Bathsheba and all the subsequent consequences, serves as an example of the typical traits of every act of sin. David’s sin “doubled” rapidly, so that in the end David had transgressed all Ten Commandments.77 Peccata actualia compared to bad fruits of a bad tree are manifold, gross, and subtle, and they serve as the basis for recognizing the fundamental radical nature of original sin, “for the tree must come before the fruit, as Christ also says in Matthew 12:33.”78

Evil fruits of the bad tree include broken relationships to creation and oneself, ingratitude, refusal to share, and pursuing selfish and loveless desires. This fundamental sinful predicament should not be taken too narrowly as talking only about human moral capabilities. On the other hand, it is more than logical that the denial of sin leads not only to self-righteousness, refusal to repent, and rejection of God’s justification but also to denying God’s promises regarding salvation. The oppressive slavery that imposes perdition is an evil punishment when the human being is left alone to the power of damaging sin with the full consent of divine judgement. For Luther, the sinful corruption of the best of human capacities, such as reason and will, meant that men could think, act, and live against the law, without even knowing it. Luther called such a predicament the “blindness of reason” and the “hardened presumption”:

For where there is no law of God, there all human reason is so blind that it cannot recognize sin. For human reason does not know that unbelief and despair of God is sin. Indeed it knows nothing about man’s duty to believe and trust in God. Hardened in its blindness, it goes its way and never feels this sin at all. Meanwhile it does some works that would otherwise be good, and it leads an outwardly respectable life. Then it thinks it stands well and the matter has been satisfactorily handled; we see this in the heathen and the hypocrites, when their life is at its best. Besides reason does not know either that the evil inclination of the flesh, and hatred of enemies, is sin. Because it observes and feels that all men are so inclined, it holds rather that these things are natural and right, and thinks it is enough merely to guard against the outward acts. So it goes its way, regarding its illness as strength, its sin as virtue, its evil as good; and never getting anywhere.79

The dryness of the tree on Cranach’s print symbolizes the tragedy of perdition. Sinner disregarding the law of God and living in selfish love experiences perdition as an inescapable subjection to error, darkness, sin, death, and despair. On the side of the Gospel, the tree is totally green through its rootedness in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate reason for Luther’s radical understanding of sin. Making sin great is inseparably connected with exalting only God’s grace and salvation only in Christ only through faith.

Review of the Literature

Scholarship to Luther’s doctrine of sin, particularly related to the development of his teaching is not wide. It is likely that so few studies have been done in last century because the topic of original sin was dogmatically perceived as problematic even obsolete. It seems paradoxical, since many Luther researchers paid attention to the discovery of “reformational turn” and the development of Luther’s doctrine of justification but underestimated the importance of this doctrine. A study from 2010 with the title Peccatum magnificare, edited by J. Block and H. Eschmann, makes this visible. Lutheran understanding of sin shall be “rediscovered a new.”80 E. Kinder81 and Ch. Gestrich82 contributed substantially to a contemporary Lutheran interpretation of Luther’s doctrine.

Among Luther scholars Gerhard Ebeling touched on the doctrine of sin from several aspects—philological, hermeneutical, traditional, and theological—in his monumental study on Luther’s Disputatio de homine. J. Brush followed a similar path as that of Ebeling in his study on Psalm 51.83

A particular line of research is interested in the relationship between Luther and Augustine. The studies by J. Pereira and T. Kleffmann recently appeared. S. Leoni presents a valuable contribution differentiating two reformational discoveries: the anti-Pelagian Augustine in 1515 and of the faith in 1519.84 This line is confirmed by Gunther Wenz85 and deepened by a wider perspective on the scholastic theology on the Lutheran side by R. Schwarz86 and O. Oberman,87 and on the Catholic side, particularly by J. Gross.88 Newest study to Luther’s teaching on sin expressed in the formula “simul iustus et peccator” presented Wilhelm Christe.89 A desiderata for future research would be a holistic view of Luther’s development of the doctrine of sin under the aspect of guilt and perdition in the sense of Luther’s definition of the subject matter of the theology.

Further Reading

Ebeling, Gerhard. Lutherstudien. Vol. 1. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1971.Find this resource:

Ebeling, Gerhard. Lutherstudien 2. Disputatio de homine, 2. Teil. Die philosophische Definition des Menschen. Kommentar zu These 1–19. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1982.Find this resource:

Kleffmann, Tom. Die Erbsündenlehre im sprachtheologischen Horizont: Eine Interpretation Augustins, Luthers und Hamanns. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1994.Find this resource:

Kolb, Robert. Bound Choice, Election, and Wittenberg Theological Method from Martin Luther to the Formula of Concord. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005.Find this resource:

Ozment, Steven. Homo Spiritualis: A Comparative Study of the Anthropology of Johannes Tauler, Jean Gerson and Martin Luther. (1509–16) in the Context of their Theological Thought. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1969.Find this resource:

Pereira, Jairzino. Augustine of Hippo and Martin Luther on Original Sin and Justification of the Sinner. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck Ruprecht, 2015.Find this resource:


(1.) Gerhard Ebeling, Lutherstudien 3. Begriffsuntersuchungen. Textinterpretationen. Wirkungsgeschichtliches (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1985), 78.

(2.) Letters, October 19, 1516, in LW 48:24; WA BR 1:70, 9–12. Leif Grane, Modus loquendi theologicus: Luthers Kampf um die Erneuerung der Theologie (1515–1518) (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1975), 32–35.

(3.) Heiko A. Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology: Gabriel Biel and Late Medieval Nominalism (Durham: Labyrinth, 1983), 120–145.

(4.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:259; WA 56:271, 6–15.

(5.) Original is in The British Museum, London. Cranach elaborated two variations of this motif, the so-called Gotha type and Prague type. This woodcut belongs to the first type. An oil painting from 1535 is displayed in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. See Christoph Wiemer, Luther, Cranach und die Bilder: Gesetz und Evangelium—Schlüssel zum reformatorischen Bildgebrauch (Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1999). Similarly, Christoph Wiemer, “Luther and Cranach on Justification in Word and Image,” Lutheran Quarterly 18 (2004): 387–405.

(6.) Related to Rom 7:25 in “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:336; WA 56:347, 3–4.

(7.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:361; WA 7:61, 26–28.

(8.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:379; WA 40/II:425, 1–2. Cf. “Wenn ‘sündentheologisch’ über das Herz des Menschen gesprochen wird, dann gilt: ‘Der Mensch hat nicht nur ein fingiertes Herz, sondern er ist cor fingens.’” Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation, trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008), 175.

(9.) Raeder Siegfried, Die Benutzung des masoretischen Textes bei Luther in der Zeit zwischen der ersten und zweiten Psalmenvorledung (1515–1518) (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1967), 12–16.

(10.) “The Seven Penitential Psalms,” in LW 14:166–169; WA 18:499, 30–500, 24. Cf. Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 181–182.

(11.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:274–277; WA 56:287, 25–288, 32.

(12.) Augustine, De spiritu et litera (9.VI), in PL 44:199–246.

(13.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:311; WA 40/II:328, 17–18. Cf. Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 37–42.

(14.) BC 355, 4.

(15.) “Lectures on Genesis,” in LW 7:280; WA 44:507, 15–19.

(16.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:338; WA 40/II:366, 30–31. Cf. WA 4:497, 32–498, 3; WA DB 7:14, 24–33; WA TR 3:217, 16–20.

(17.) Adnotationes Quincuplici Psalterio adscriptae, in WA 4:496, 28–29.

(18.) “First Lectures on Psalms,” in LW 10:146; WA 3:174, 33–35.

(19.) “First Lectures on Psalms,” in WA 3:285, 17.

(20.) Eine kurze Erklärung der zehn Gebote, in WA 1:254, 4–6.

(21.) “Heidelberg Disputation,” in LW 31:39–40; WA 1:353, 19–355, 6, esp. Theses 3, 5, 7–10, 12, 13.

(22.) Eine kurze Unterweisung, wie man beichten soll, in WA 2:60, 6–16. Cf. “Heidelberg Disputation,” in LW 31:40; WA 1:353, 29–30, Thesis 8. The effect of this new position is visualized vividly in the famous painting from Lucas Cranach in the Luther-house in Wittenberg; the painting depicts the transgression of the Decalogue and not just the seven mortal sins.

(23.) Eine kurze Erklärung der zehn Gebote, in WA 1:254, 10–14.

(24.) “First Lectures on Psalms,” in LW 10:236; WA 3:288, 32–289, 1. Cf. LW 10:178; WA 3:215, 27–28.

(25.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:291; WA 56:304, 29–305, 1. LW 25:345; WA 56:365, 5.

(26.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:262; WA 56:275, 5–8.

(27.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:270; WA 56:283, 15.

(28.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:299; WA 56:312, 10–13.

(29.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:261; WA 56:273, 10–274, 1. Cf. “The Disputation concerning Justification” (1536), in LW 34:185–187; WA 39/I:116, 13–118, 12.

(30.) Augustine, Contra Julianum II: III. 5, in PL 44:641–874, 675.

(31.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:264; WA 56:277, 11–13. Otto Hermann Pesch, Theologie der Rechtfertigung bei Martin Luther und Thomas von Aquin. Versuch eines systematisch-theologischen Dialogs (Mainz: Matthias Grünewald, 1967), 93–97.

(32.) BC 37:1–38, 3.

(33.) Cf. Assertio omnium articulorum, in WA 7:103, 9–111, 11.

(34.) “Against Latomus,” in LW 32:220; WA 8:101, 34–40. Cf. “The Disputation concerning Justification” (1536), with Luther’s emphasis on the active drive of original sin as concupiscence toward evil, in LW 34:179–181; WA 39/I:110, 26–112, 9.

(35.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:277; WA 56:289, 27–28; “Lectures on Galatians,” in LW 26:172–173; WA 40/I:291, 29–292, 17.

(36.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:262; WA 56:275, 19–22.

(37.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:279; WA 56:279, 13–16. Cf. “Lectures on Galatians,” in LW 26:128–129; WA 40/I:227, 21–228, 26.

(38.) Theo Dieter, Der junge Luther und Aristoteles. Historisch-systematische Untersuchungen zum Verhältnis von Theologie und Philosophie (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2001), 80–106.

(39.) WABR 1:66, 32–35. “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:497; WA 56:502, 32–503, 5.

(40.) Quaestio de viribus et voluntate hominis sine gratia disputata, in LW 1:147, 38–148, 33. Cf. Questio theologica cum septem conclusionibus de naturali potentia voluntatis hominis, in LW 6:32.

(41.) “Heidelberg Disputation,” in LW 31:40; WA 1:354, 5–6.

(42.) Dieter, Der junge Luther und Aristoteles, 313–317.

(43.) Letters, in LW 48:25; WA BR 1:70, 29–32.

(44.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:385; WA 40/II:433, 19–22.

(45.) Sermo de triplici iustitia, in WA 2:44, 14–21.

(46.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:361; WA 7:61, 31–38.

(47.) Augustine, De civitate Dei IX.15, in PL 41:13–803, 643–644.

(48.) “Lectures on Hebrews,” in LW 29:182; WA 18:782, 13.

(49.) Decem praecepta Wittenbergensi praedicata populo, in WA 1:399, 11.

(50.) Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism I, trans. Walter A. Hansen (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia, 1962), 30.

(51.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:329; WA 40/II:353, 36–354, 19.

(52.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:353; WA 7:56, 5.

(53.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:351; WA 7:54, 23–25.

(54.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:362; WA 7:62, 25–26; Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 179–180.

(55.) “Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans,” in LW 35:369; WA DB 7:6, 32–38, 2.

(56.) “The Freedom of a Christian,” in LW 31:350; WA 7:54, 11–15.

(57.) Johannes Schwanke, Creatio ex nihilo: Luthers Lehre von der Schöpfung aus dem Nichts in der Großen Genesisvorlesung (1535–1545) (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004), 11–12.

(58.) “Preface to the Romans,” in LW 35:369; WA DB:6, 32–34.

(59.) “The Disputation concerning the Justification,” in LW 34:145–196; WA 39:1, 78–126.

(60.) “Lectures on Galatians,” in LW 26:131; WA 40/I:231, 30–32.

(61.) “Preface to Romans,” in LW 35:369; WA DB 7:6, 34–8, 2. Cf. “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:308–309; WA 40/II:323, 30–324, 19.

(62.) “The Seven Penitential Psalms,” in LW 14:169; WA 18:501, 29.

(63.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:347–348; WA 40/II:380, 25–33. Cf. LW 37:55, 38–56, 2.

(64.) Luthers Nachbesserungen an der deutschen Bibel, in WA DB 3:52, 2–8; Cf. “Lectures on Galatians,” in LW 26:126; WA 40/I:223, 31–35.

(65.) “Confession concerning Christ’s Supper,” in LW 37:362; WA 26:502, 25–30.

(66.) “Lectures on Genesis,” in LW 1:54–236; WA 42:41–176; Gerhard Ebeling, Lutherstudien 3. Begriffsuntersuchungen. Textinterpretationen. Wirkungsgeschichtliches (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1985), 78. Worth reading is the whole passage from Gen. 2:15 to Gen. 3:24, in LW 1:101–236; WA 42:77, 21–176, 17.

(67.) “Lectures on Genesis,” in LW 7:281; WA 44:507, 37–42.

(68.) “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” in LW 36:42; WA 6:516, 30–32.

(69.) BC 322, 5–6.

(70.) Robert Kolb, “Luther on the Two Kinds of Righteousness: Reflections on His Two-Dimensional Definition of Humanity at the Hearth of His Theology,” Lutheran Quarterly 13 (1999): 463.

(71.) Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 180.

(72.) “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:273; WA56:286, 14–16.

(73.) “Confession concerning Christ’s Supper,” in LW 37:363; WA 26:503, 14–15. According to Scholastics personal sin could be only peccatum actuale. Cf. Ebeling, Lutherstudien 3, 82–88.

(74.) “Confession concerning Christ’s Supper,” in LW 37:362; WA 26:502, 28–30. Cf. “The Disputation concerning Justification,” in LW 34:155–156; WA/I:85, 3–86, 19, Theses 15, 22, 24, 27, 29, 33. “Lectures on Romans,” in LW 25:300; WA 56:313, 4–16.

(75.) “The Bondage of the Will,” in LW 33:272; WA 18:773, 17. Cf. LW 33:282; WA 18:779, 19–21. Confession concerning Christ’s Supper, in LW 37:363; WA 26:503, 19–24.

(76.) “The Bondage of the Will,” in LW 33:245; WA 18:755, 23–37.

(77.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:306; WA 40/II:319, 32–320, 25.

(78.) “Psalm 51,” in LW 12:385; WA 40/II:433, 20–22. Cf. Ernst Kinder, Die Erbsünde (Stuttgart: Schwabenberg, 1959), 37.

(79.) “Preface to the Old Testament,” in LW 35:242; WA DB 8:21, 32–23, 6. Cf. more extensively “Against Latomus,” in LW 32:176–180; WA 8:69, 35–72, 32. “The Disputation concerning Justification” (1536), in LW 34:154; WA 39/I:84, 10–11.

(80.) Johannes Block and Holger Eschmann, Peccatum magnificare: Zur Wiederentdeckung des evangelischen Sündenverständnisses für die Handlungsfelder der Praktischen Theologie (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck Ruprecht, 2010).

(81.) Kinder, Die Erbsünde.

(82.) Christof Gestrich, Peccatum-Studien zur Sündenlehre (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2003).

(83.) Jack Brush, Gotteserkenntnis und Selbsterkenntnis. Luther’s Verständnis des 51. Psalms (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997).

(84.) Stefano Leoni, “Der Augustinkomplex. Luthers zwei reformatorische Bekehrungen,” in Reformatorische Theologie und Autoritäten: Studien zur Genese der Schriftprinzips beim jungen Luther, ed. Volker Leppin (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2015), 185–294.

(85.) Gunther Wenz, “Das in sich Verkehrte: Luthers Sündenverständnis in der Tradition augustinischer Hamartiologie,” in Le Peché, ed. Joseph Doré (Paris: Academie internationale des Sciences religieuses, 2001), s. 265–300.

(86.) Schwarz, Johann Ecks Disputationsthesen vom Mai 1519 über die erbsündliche “concupiscentia.”Herbert Immenkötter and Gunther Wenz, “Ein Angriff auf Luthers Sündenverständnis,” in Im Schatten der Confessio Augustana (Münster, Germany: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1997), 127–168.

(87.) Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology.

(88.) Julius Gross, Entwicklungsgeschichte des Erbsündendogmas, Vol. 4, Entwicklungsgeschichte des Erbsündendogmasseit der Reformation (Munich: Ernst Reinhard, 1972).

(89.) Wilhem Christe, Gerechte Sünder. Eine Untersuchung zu Martin Luthers ‘simul iustus et peccator’ (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2014).