Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Jewish People
The place and significance of Martin Luther in the long history of Christian anti-Jewish polemic has been and continues to be a contested issue. The literature on the subject is substantial, and diverse. While efforts to exonerate Luther as "merely"...
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The place and significance of Martin Luther in the long history of Christian anti-Jewish polemic has been and continues to be a contested issue. The literature on the subject is substantial, and diverse. While efforts to exonerate Luther as "merely" a man of his times who "merely" perpetuated what he had received from his cultural and theological tradition have rightly been jettisoned, there still persists even among the educated public the perception that the truly problematic aspects of Luther's anti-Jewish attitudes are confined to the final stages of his career. It is true that Luther's anti-Jewish rhetoric intensified toward the end of his life, but reading Luther with a careful eye toward "the Jewish question," it becomes clear that Luther's theological presuppositions toward Judaism and the Jewish people are a central, core component of his thought throughout his career, not just at the end. It follows then that it is impossible to understand the heart and building blocks of Luther's theology (justification, faith, liberation, salvation, grace) without acknowledging the crucial role of "the Jews" in his fundamental thinking.
Kirsi Stjerna (Ph.D., Boston University) is Associate Professor of Reformation Church History and Director of the Institute for Luther Studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. She is the editor of The Role of the Bishop: Changing Models for a Global Church (2001), Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (1998) and No Greater Jewel: Thinking about Baptism with Luther.
Koorong -Editorial Review.
Brooks Schramm is Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.