The Spirit, the Spirits, and the Letter
Martin Luther on the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures
In the theology of Martin Luther, the Holy Spirit (contending for his position among other spirits) cannot be separated from the external Word in the fixed and stable form we know as the Holy Scriptures. These Holy Scriptures belong to a broader matrix of instruments through which the Holy Spirit deals with people mediately rather than immediately or by direct revelation to the individual, and thereby certainly in the church. If you have a current subscription or current on-line account please log-in here to read the rest of this article.
1 [ Back
] Martin Luther, "Scribes," Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe
, 60 vols. (Weimar: Böhlau, 1883), 34/II:487,2f. (hereafter WA
50:646, 33ff.; see also the references in Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelischlutherischen Kirche
, 11th ed. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992), 454 n. 2 (hereafter BSLK
). Luther's imitation of the southern German/Swiss drawl ("gaischt, gaischt
46:426, 28. "Scripture!...Scripture!": WA 36:500, 31ff. The sermon: WA 34/II:483-490; quote: WA 34/II:489,13-15. All translations are the author's unless otherwise indicated.
2 [ Back
] The Spirit and the letter along with 2 Cor. 2:6: Johannes von Lüpke, "Geist und Buchstabe," in Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart
, 4th ed. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1998ff.), 3:578-82. Luther vs. Schleiermacher: Hermann Sasse, "Luther and the Word of God," in Accents in Luther's Theology
, ed. Heino O. Kadai (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967), 47-97, 72. Luther's understanding of language and hermeneutical breakthrough: Oswald Bayer, Schöpfung als Anrede: Zu einer Hermeneutik der Schöpfung
(Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1986), 36-9; see also his Martin Luthers Theologie: Eine Vergegenwärtigung
(Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 62-83 (esp. 71-3). Luther quote: WA Tischrede
4:666, 8ff. (no. 5106). Authorship and inspiration of the Scriptures: WA
34/II:488, 4; Hermann Sasse, "The Rise of the Dogma of Holy Scripture in the Middle Ages" in The Reformed Theological Review
18 (1959): 45-54. Spiritual and literal sense: WA
7:647-71; see also Martin Brecht, Martin Luther
(Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag), 1:360ff.
3 [ Back
] Luther quotes in order: WA 46:527, 31-5; WA 50:646, 25-31; WA 34/II:487, 12-15. The Christology as driving force for the whole: Luther's preface to the New Testament: WA Deutsche Bibel
6:2, 23-4, 23 (hereafter WA DB
); Johann Anslem Steiger, "Die Communicatio Idiomatum als Achse und Motor der Theologie Luthers: Der 'Fröhliche Wechsel' als hermeneutischer Schlüssel zu Abendmahlslehre, Anthropologie, Seelsorge, Naturtheologie, Rhetorik und Humor
," in Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie
38 (1996): 1-28. See also Sasse, "Luther and the Word...," 82: "The Lutheran Christian...believes in the Bible because he first believes in Christ."
4 [ Back
] The Holy Spirit, singular and unique, and one among other spirits: see the Larger Catechism
2, 35-6, BSLK
653, 36-654, 1/2.
5 [ Back
7:94-151. Quotes: WA
7:97, 1-3 and 7:97, 34ff. Here Luther also calls Scripture its own interpreter: WA
6 [ Back
] Luther's paraphrased answer: WA
28:76, 15-19 and 36:500, 21-501, 16. Luther and Erasmus: WA
18:603, 1-609, 14; in regard to the clarity of Scripture see also WA
7 [ Back
] See Bayer, Martin Luthers Theologie
, 62-5. Quote on prayer: WA 28:76, 15-21 (in view of Luther's German, the English differentiation between spirit and Spirit is arbitrary). In regard to the whole of section 2: Regin Prenter, Spiritus Creator
, trans. John M. Jensen (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1953).
8 [ Back
] See WA
34/II:487, 6-10 in the wider context of this sermon.
9 [ Back
, etc.: WA 50,658, 29-661, 8; see also Bayer, Martin Luthers Theologie
, 28-34. Toward a given primacy of the preached Word: WA
7:721 ,9-15; WA
DB 6:2, 23-4, 23; WA
10/I,1:625,12-628, 8; for discussion see Von Lüpke, 579 and Bayer, Martin Luthers Theologie
, 71-3. Continuity and the Bible in the pulpit: WA
34/II:487, 26ff. and 50:658, 27ff. in the context of 50:657, 2-658, 28. Fanatics against the preached Word: WA
34/II, 488, 4-7 and 36:500, 21-501, 16. Bible and oral proclamation interwoven: Jaroslav Pelikan, "The Theology of the Means of Grace," in Accents in Luther's Theology
(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1967), 124-47, 130ff. On the Roman front: WA
50:628, 29ff. with 50:630, 14ff.; Schmalkaldische Artikel
III, VIII, 4 (hereafter SA
454, 7-12 with Tractatus
10 [ Back
] Word, Sacraments, and Office: WA 50:647, 6-13. Enthusiasm: SA
III, VII, 3-13, BSLK
453, 16-456, 18. Mediately located and active in the church: see Kleiner Katechismus
II, 6, BSLK
511, 39-512, 13 (quote: 512, 6) and Großer Katechismus
II, 34-62, BSLK
653, 25-600, 13 (includes the offices, see II, 54, BSLK
658, 10-18) in relation to chief parts 4-6 (Baptism, Confession and Absolution, the Lord's Supper). God preached and proffered in the liturgy vs. God hidden: WA
18, 685, 3-5; cultus
implies more than just worship; it entails the habitation of God. See also WA
26, 505, 29-506, 29.
11 [ Back
] Following Sasse, "The Rise of the Dogma..." and "Luther and the Word...." What the Reformation was (not): see Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and its Theology
, ed. Lawrence Rast (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2007); Arthur Carl Piepkorn, "What the Reformation Was Not," in The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn
, vol. 2, ed. Philip J. Secker (Mansfield, CT: CEC Press, 2007), 72-7; Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, eds., The Catholicity of the Reformation
(Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1996), esp. the articles by Yeago and Senn.
12 [ Back
] Quotes: WA
18:136, 9-13 and then 13-18. Regarding "On the Bound Will": WA
18:609, 4-14 and 18:653, 22-28; see also Jared Wicks, "Luther's Ecclesiology (Seminarbericht
)," in Lutherjahrbuch
62 (1995): 198-201, 199. The whole delivered as a gift: Kleiner Katechismus
(n. 10 above) and WA
26:505, 38-506, 12; further Norman E. Nagel (NEN), "When the First Article Cannot Come First," in Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology
2, no. 1 (1993): 57.
13 [ Back
] Quote: WA
18:137, 15ff. See also Brecht II:165-69. Luther, Law and Gospel, spirit and letter: von Lüpke, 581.
14 [ Back
] Hermann Sasse, "On the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit," in We Confess the Church
, trans. Norman Nagel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986), 17-39; see also Bayer, Martin Luthers Theologie
, 65-67. Luther's biography: Oswald Bayer, "Die reformatorische Wende in Luthers Theologie
," in Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche
66 (1969): 115-50 comparing with WA 54:185,12-187, 7 via Notger Slenczka, "Das Evangelium und die Schrift
," in Der Tod Gottes und das Leben des Menschen
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003), 39-64, 52ff. For Luther the inseparability of Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture never meant that he did not need to hear someone speaking the Word of God to him from the Scriptures but exactly the opposite: WA
40/III:543, 22-544, 14; when the plague struck Wittenberg the mighty Reformer could not do without his pastor in the house: Brecht II:207.
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Issue: "Sola Scriptura" Nov./Dec. 2010 Vol. 19 No. 6 Page number(s): 18-22
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