Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings
Publication Year: 2012
The third edition includes revised introductions, updated bibliography, index, and the addition of "A Meditation on Christ's Passion" (1519), "Treatise on the Blessed Sacrament" (1519), "Sermon on the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics" (1526), "Sermon in Castle Pleissenburg" (1539), and "Consolation to Women Whose Pregnancies Have Not Gone Well" (1542), as well as new translations of "A Practical Way to Pray" (1535) and "On the Freedom of a Christian" (1520).
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
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Title Page, Copyright
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Chronology of Luther’s Writingsin This Volume
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...8. The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body and Blood of Christ (LW 35: 48–73)9. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church—Part I (LW 36:11–57)10. The Freedom of a Christian. The Luther Study Edition, translated by Mark 12. A Brief Instruction on What to Look For and Expect in the Gospels (LW 35:117–24)13. “Concerning the Letter and the Spirit” (LW 39:175–203)...
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BC The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Trans. Charles Arand et al. Ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert. Minneapolis: CR Huldreich Zwinglis sämmtliche Werke, vols. 88– of the Corpus Reformatorum, edited by Emil Egli and Georg Finsler. Berlin: Schwetschke und Sohn, 1905–.FC Fathers of the Church, edited by Ludwig Schopp. New York: Cima, 1947–....
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In January 1989, Timothy F. Lull and I sat in a room full of theologians and church historians at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. He casually asked me, “So what writings of Luther would you put in a one-volume collection of his works?” ...
Preface to the First Edition
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Martin Luther has been much discussed in recent years, especially during the five hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1983. Many splendid new books about Luther have recently been published. But there is still need for a new one-volume anthology of Luther’s basic theological writings. ...
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Church,” in Martin Luther: Theologian of the Church, ed. William 3. Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Interpreters of Luther (Fortress Press: of the Reformer’s notions of “the bound will” (Theology Is ogy of the cross” (On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflec-tions on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 [Grand Rapids: ...
Part 1Luther on Theology
The documents of Part I, written over a twenty-two year period, indicate both the Reformer’s basic theological method and his basic theological priorities. As a medieval Roman Catholic, Luther sought the surest path to salvation offered by the Church: he became a Priest, an Augustinian Friar, and a Doctor of Theology. Through his studies at the University of Erfurt, he began to see how medieval theology influ-In 1511, Luther became a professor at the then new University of Wittenberg. He ...
1Disputation against Scholastic Theology (1517)
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...offers a set of topics for debate (“theses”) at the University the theses only to provide initial clues to the positions. Their 1. Pelagius (360?–420), a native of Britain, denied original sin. He held that justifying grace is given according to merit and regarded sinless perfection possible after baptism. His teachings were vigor-...
2The Ninety-Five Theses (1517)
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...here, he clearly focuses on the centrality of a right understand-ous debate about Luther’s ideas took place that has lasted to power to forgive and to retain sin, but merely an assertion that 5. Satisfaction is that act on the part of the penitent, in con-one pays the temporal penalty for one’s sins. If at death one is ...
3Heidelberg Disputation (1518)
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...a reform centered in the “theology of the cross” (theologia 4. This is a free rendering of the passage, “I will destroy you, sive capacity,5 but it can always do evil in an active capacity.5. This is Luther’s way of stating that free will could actually choose “the Good” before the fall. That it could do so after ...
4Confession concerning Christ’s Supper—Part iii (1528)
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...estants. As part of his critique of Zwingli’s views, he argues evangelically. He also links Christian ethics with creation’s fession, but subtle versions of this doctrine of self-salvation 7. A requiem mass is celebrated on the anniversary of decease; a had questioned the celebration of masses for the dead in Thesis ...
5A Practical Way to Pray (1535)
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...1. This translation is based on the German text, Eine einfältige Weise zu beten für einen guten Freund, in WA 38:(351) 358–375, and is an abbreviate revision of Carl J. Schindler’s 1968 “A with each of the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. For the ...
6Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings (1539)
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Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings (1539)cal wordplay, Luther proffers three “rules” for theological 1. “There is reason for the way things happen.” Horace, Satires Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings 41...
7Sermon in Castle Pleissenburg, Leipzig (1539)
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...3. Luther’s phrase is Im Rauchloch, i.e., in the chimney pot; 5. Zeitliche Partecke: our poor, beggarly possessions, temporal bread and wellbeing. See the phrase, “bit of bread,” in the next 6. Es ist der liebe Wilpret (der Friende) im Himmelreich gar seltsam. his use of the expression, Eyn furst wiltprett ym hymel ist (“A ...
Part 2Luther on Scripture
Luther derived his grace-centered theology from his professorial work on Scripture (lecturing, 1513–1518, on Psalms, Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews). He concluded that the standard, received biblical interpretations of his day misunderstood the righ-teousness of God in Christ at the heart of Scripture. The Reformer unapologetically focused on material that presented the gospel most clearly as a key to all of Scripture, and as a means to critique both theology and current church practice. ...
8“Concerning the Letter and the Spirit” (1521)
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...inthians 3:6: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”—another person an animal (“Hund,” “Swine,” “Vogel,” and in this case, “Goat”) was considered a great insult. Secondly, by spelling his name Murnarr, which means “fool.” Emser, for whose controversial principles of allegorical Biblical interpre-...
9A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels (1521)
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A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels (1521)most biblical scholar of the ancient church and a friend of St. A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels 73A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels 752. Official papal decrees that had been added over centuries to ...
10Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (1522, Revised 1546)
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Preface to the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (1522, Revised 1546)“the just shall live by faith”—to reveal the central, core words: “law,” “sin,” “grace,” “faith,” “righteousness,” allowed for a person to “prepare” oneself for grace. As Luther read Paul, all attempts to keep the law, earn merit, and prepare ...
11Lectures on Galations (1535)
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Latin word conscientia has the meaning “consciousness” rather 5. On Luther’s use of the phrase, “the old person,” in this ...
12Preface to the New Testament (1522, Revised 1546)
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...access to the heart of the Biblical story—the story of God’s 1. Prior to the 1534 edition of the complete Bible, this preface carried as a title the single word “Preface.” This translation is 35:227–32 for the general introduction to all of Luther’s bib-appear for the first time, rather than to criticism on the part ...
13Preface to the Old Testament (1523, Revised 1545)
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...4. Tetragrammaton, literally “four letters,” is the technical term 5. Adonai literally means “my lord,” but by usage it was in 7. Cf. Luther’s statement, “It was necessary for me to under-...
14How Christians Should Regard Moses (1525)
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...aroused Luther’s indignation. Cf. his fuller treatment of this subject, also during 1525, in Against the Heavenly Prophets, LW always sought in his exegesis the deeper, hidden spiritual mean-...
Part 3Luther on the Gospel
The first two parts of this anthology show Luther’s passion for the gospel, under-stood as a grace-centered theology of the cross—and his confidence that this In this part, we see the Reformer’s view of how the love of God is revealed in Jesus, how this revelation saves believers from their bondage to sin, and how the Holy Thus there is a fundamental continuity that runs through the documents in part 3. The negative aspect of Luther’s writings speak of human incapacity, of the need for ...
15Two Kinds of Righteousness (1519)
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...from “the outside in.” This “alien” righteousness, given brings to the believer Christ’s justifying work on the cross. ness—the “proper righteousness”—that flourishes in those righteousness in their recent book The Genius of Luther’s The-ology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church ...
16A Meditation on Christ’s Passion (1519)
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...1. From the Latin root, passio, “suffering.” In this context, 2. Luther’s attitude toward the Jews reflects common views in them to Christianity. This is reflected in this treatise, as well of the refusal of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. This is evidenced in his treatise of 1547, On the Jews and Their ...
17A Sermon on the Three Kinds of Good Lifefor the Instruction of Consciences (1521)
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...2. Luther refers to the marble tablets carried by clergy on which ...
18The Bondage of the Will—Introduction, Part vi, and Conclusion (1525)
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...bce). “Assertor” refers to Luther’s Assertion of All the Articles ians.” Possibly an ironic allusion to Erasmus’s Book against the Barbarians (Antibarbarorum liber), first published in 1520. For 31:25–33; the Heidelberg Disputation (1518), esp. Theses 13–15, mus, the famous master of rhetoric. He personalizes Erasmus’s ...
19Sermon on the Afternoon of Christmas Day (1530)
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Luther loved Christmas and preached extensively on it as another way in which the story of God’s love for humanity could be brought home to the listener in its radically gracious form. The Reformer believed the great christological confession of the church’s creed that the one who was born of Mary is simultaneously true God and true human. ...
20Against the Antinomians (1539)
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...grace in Christ. The “apostolic admonitions,” following from the gospel and not the law, establish Christian ethics. Luther, Decalogue is in the city hall, not in the pulpit. This statement 3. This is a satirical reference to Agricola’s claim to be more its validity as a Biblical text, yet interprets it differently. True ...
Part 4Luther on the Sacraments
Luther courageously stood for faith against the prevailing theological method of his time. He carefully translated and interpreted Scripture. He passionately proclaimed In baptism and holy communion, Luther’s commitments to theological method, Scripture, and the proclamation of the gospel drive his formulations—both negatively, in his criticisms of foes, and positively in his constructive proposals. However, the Reformer’s full views emerged over time, in response to the debates of the age. Some ...
21The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ (1519)
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The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ (1519)not the wine, to the laity (even while admitting that its action ...
22The Babylonian Captivity of the Church—Part i (1520)
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...devotes nearly half of the book to the Lord’s Supper and baptism.Erfurt during Luther’s student days, and was later secretary to 5. Augustinus Alveld, a Franciscan. This reference by Luther is 8. The universities of Cologne and Louvain had ratified Eck’s 10. The Franciscans. Perhaps an allusion to the seraphic vision ...
23The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics (1526)
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...trusted. Christ’s real presence in the Supper makes the sacra-1. In his Billiche Antwort of July 18, 1526, a reply to the Swa-gotsfleischesser and gotsblutsauffer to describe his opponents, and brötenen and gebachnen to describe their God. WA 19, 457 n. 2. entirely in Latin, at this point has the German phrase: das ist ...
24Concerning Rebaptism (1528)
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...“Enthusiasts” taught, grounded in “personal faith,” rather heretic in both Catholic and Protestant territories. After flee-2. “Postil,” from the Latin phrase, Post illa verba textus (after those words of the text)—in Luther’s day, a collection of ser-defended the validity of the church’s sacraments even if wicked ...
25Confession concerning Christ’s Supper—From Part i (1528)
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...1. Cf., The Devil’s Whore: Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran 2. Zwingli defines alloio¯sis as “an exchange [abtuschen] or 5. Christian Answer. CR 92:933–34; St. L. 20:1200. This is to natures virtually into two persons. Zwingli defended himself at 7. Zwingli had not argued that “the right hand of God” is a ...
26The Marburg Articles (1529)
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...fifteen statements of faith (“articles”), the fifteenth, on the 1. Luther actually wrote these articles on October 4, 1529, as a 3. This article rejects the teaching of Apollinaris, who taught gruo,” which, for example, in the theological system of Gabriel 6. A play upon the medieval scholastic concept of “preceding” ...
27Consolation for Women Whose Pregnancies Have Not Gone Well (1542)
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Consolation for Women Whose Pregnancies Have Not Gone Well (1542)1. Luther wrote this piece as an addendum to a publication on the gen. Bugenhagen (or the publisher) entitled it “Martin Luther’s Well” (Ein Trost D. Martini Luthers den Weibern, welchen es ungerade gegangen ist mit Kindergebären ) [WA 53:(202) 205–208]). For his ...
Part 5Luther on Reform
As a reform-minded professor and pastor, Luther needed to think about the con-crete structuring of church life—that is, the actual, practical application of his gospel-centered theology. This task was complicated for the Reformer by leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who opposed his proposals, as well as by those devout Roman Catholics who agreed with him theologically, but either did not want the changes that he proposed or were not willing to struggle against the papacy and bish-...
28Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522)
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...often called the “Invocavit Sermons,” after the name of the 5. Zwilling’s first name, Gabriel, probably suggested to Luther the addition of the name of the archangel Michael. Cf. Galatians 1:8.settled in 843. Invocavit Sunday is the “Feast of Orthodoxy” tine Saxony (1463–1525). The “bishop of Halle” is probably ...
29Concerning the Order of Public Worship (1523)
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...of what they celebrate focuses on the faith of Christ’s first the Scriptures are read in Latin, a practice he associates with 3. This is a reference to the two parts of a chancel choir which ...
30An Order of Mass and Communionfor the Church at Wittenberg (1523)
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...3. The chant sung during the distribution of the Lord’s Supper.offensive to Luther, because it overly stressed the sacrificial 5. Luther calls the prayers (for the departed, for special favors, 7. Epicopus, “bishop.” Luther sometimes refers to the parish whole Lenten season. In Lent the “tracts,” consisting of up to ...
31The Small Catechism (1529)
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...basic Christian teaching (that is, the “catechism,” broadly the effectiveness of parish ministry. These experiences as a vis-itor spurred Luther’s longstanding (and ongoing) catechetical 2. In Luther’s day the word catechism denoted these three parts, 7. The titles for each section of The Small Catechism stem from ...
32The Smalcald Articles (1537)
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...collective faith at the council rather than Luther’s Articles, the sacrifice of the mass and the liturgy and practices that had Smalcald in 1537. Luther inserted it into the text for the SA’s 15. Galatians 1:8. SA II, 2, 13–15 was not a part of Luther’s similar obligations were assumed by groups called fraternities, ...
33On the Councils and the Church—Part iii (1539)
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Christ) is therefore called “sanctifier” or “life-giver.” both the meaning of “sanctuary” and “relic.” Luther plays and the author of Memoirs on the Actions and Writings of Martin 6. John Faber (1478–1541), the son of a smith (faber in Latin) 8. Probably names suggested by the sound of “Wetzel,” which ...
Part 6Luther on Ethics
In some respects, Luther is a one-issue theologian. He consistently asks the ques-tion of how God relates to humankind. For Luther, the gospel of the grace of God in Jesus Christ is such a surprisingly wonderful reality that it stands out above all other concerns. This is why the well-worn Reformation slogans repeat “alone,” when describing Luther’s focus on this question: “grace alone,” “faith alone,” “Christ alone,” Never a quietest or disengaged from the issues of his day, Luther was quick to ...
34A Sermon on the Estate of Marriage (1519)
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This piece, published six years before Luther’s own marriage, God’s created orders of family, civil society, and the church. In contrast to the ascetic traditions of medieval theology, the call in married life and “sanctifies” the orders of creation as of marriage as a “remedy against sin” with that of marriage as ...
35A Sermon on Preparing to Die (1519
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...affairs of this life seriously. Obviously, Luther’s stress on the ing “virtue” and “evil” or “vice.” However, just as the English word virtue originally meant “strength,” so the word Tugend (derived from taugen, meaning “to be useful” or “to be capable of”) in Luther’s day implied strength, power, ability, and good ...
36The Freedom of a Christian (1520)
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...self-justification. Rather, the believer is set free to serve the Christian, faith alone is sufficient—it does not need hope and love to “complete” it. For Luther faith or trust (see also note 7) was the fundamental perspective for all of life. It involves have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one ...
37Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed (1523)
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Politically less experienced than his older brother, John was a to publish the bull directed against Luther, in his brother’s 5. Cf. Luther’s detailed treatment of the second table of the “commandment” and “counsel.” Generally, this tradition held that the new law—of liberty—fittingly added counsels to the ...
38To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany ThatThey Establish and Maintain Christian Schools (1524)
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...parents for their selfishness in keeping children out of school “I daily expect the death decreed to the heretic.” SL 2:264; tion. Ein recht gülden jar means literally, “a truly golden year.” called a “Güldenjahr.” During such a year throngs of pilgrims their substantial gifts made it literally a “golden” year indeed ...
39Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague (1527)
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...spiritual insight directly from the Holy Spirit, apart from the 12. That These Words of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still ...
Part 7Luther the Man
At various points in his career and in various settings, Luther and his compan-ions provided information about his origins, influences, friendships, and per-sonal priorities. These occasional references, spoken, written, recorded, and observed throughout Luther’s adult life, provide a sort of collage of his personality, his develop-It is important to note the various genres represented here. There are letters, some of which Luther could expect would be published and some of which were intended ...
40–47Letters and Fragments
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...with almost every great political and ecclesiastical event of the 13. Madensack, literally, “bag of worms,” was a favorite term of Reformer’s theological priorities. Its influence on the tragic 19. Luther’s earlier writings on the subject included his trea-He wrote then, primarily “to fortify the Christians.” The same ...
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Select Bibl iography
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Aland, Kurt, editor. Martin Luther: Gesammelte Werke CD-ROM. Digitale Bibliothek 63. Berlin: Karant-Nunn, Susan C., and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, editors and translators. Luther on Women: Kolb, Robert, and James A. Nestingen, editors. Sources and Contexts of the Book of Concord. Kolb, Robert, and Timothy J. Wengert, editors. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Pelikan, Jaroslav, and Helmut T. Lehman, general editors. Luther’s Works. 55 vols. Saint Louis: ...
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Page Count: 560
Publication Year: 2012