Luther’s Jews : a journey into anti-semitism by Thomas Kaufmann

By Thomas Kaufmann

If there has been one one who may be acknowledged to mild the touch-paper for the epochal transformation of eu faith and tradition that we now name the Reformation, it was once Martin Luther. And Luther and his fans have been to play a relevant position within the Protestant global that used to be to emerge from the Reformation method, either in Germany and the broader international.

In all senses of the time period, this non secular pioneer was once an immense determine in eu heritage. but there's additionally the very uncomfortable yet while proven fact that he was once an anti-semite. Written by means of one of many world's top gurus at the Reformation, this is often the vexed and occasionally stunning tale of Martin Luther's more and more vitriolic angle in the direction of the Jews over the process his lifetime, set opposed to the backdrop of an international in spiritual turmoil.

A ultimate bankruptcy then displays at the volume to which the legacy of Luther's anti-semitism was once to taint the Lutheran church over the subsequent centuries. Scheduled for book at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation's beginning, in mild of the next process German background it's a story either sobering and ominous in equivalent measure.

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They thus expose their own inadequacy and become a laughing stock to those listening to them. If this story contains any kernel of historical truth and Luther really did have an encounter with Jews in Worms, it might reflect the hopes that individual representatives of Judaism placed in Luther, for in the first two decades of the sixteenth century Jews, including those in the Empire, were coming under increasing pressure. Various sources provide evidence that some Jews even projected messianic hopes onto him.

Very few instances of personal contact between Luther and Jews can be reconstructed with any certainty. A table talk entry provided by Johannes Mathesius dating from the spring of 1540 confirms the report that ‘in the early days’ there was a record of Regensburg Jews having sent Luther in Wittenberg a German translation in Hebrew characters of Psalm 130 (‘Out of the depths’). ’1 This 26 OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 10/22/2016, SPi ne ighbou r s y e t st r a nge r s comment has been largely overlooked in Luther scholarship.

29 In Luther’s interpretation of the Magnificat the link crucial to his Reformation theology between God’s promise or his Gospel and Christ on the one hand and faith in them on the other was applied systematically to relations with the Jews. This promise was made to them at the beginning of the history of salvation and would always remain valid. The messages of the prophets gave it new relevance. However, the Jews, failing to recognize the purpose of the Law, as Luther, interpreting St Paul, believed, had turned away from the promise and set up a notion of righteousness based on their own works.

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