Eyn Sermon von dem Ablaß vnnd gnade durch den wirdigen̄ doctorn̄ Martinū Luther Augustiner zu Wittēbergk gemacht.11 The Basel print has ‘gemacht vnd geprediget’ both here and on the title which immediately follows. Illustrations in the transcription from the Leipzig print which is edited here are marked (L), from the Basel print (B).
Eyn Sermon von dem Ablaß vnnd gnade / durch den̄ wirdigen̄ doctorn̄ Martinum Luther Augustiner zu Wittenbergk geprediget.
¶ Czum Ersten solt yr wissen / das eczlich22 The spelling ‹cz› represents [ts] (see ‘How to Read the Sermon’, 5); the word is the reflex of MHG eteslich with syncope; the form ‘etlich’ (9) is the reflex (also with syncope) of the variant MHG form etelich. Over time, ‹cz› is replaced by ‹z› in Luther’s writings. new lerer / als33 = NHG wie; see §19 (paragraph references are to ‘Language and Style’ in the Introduction). Magister Sentē .S. Thomas vn̄ yhre folger gebē d’ pusz44 Initial ‹p› instead of ‹b› here and in ‘peycht’ later in the sentence reflects a pronunciation associated particularly with Bavarian, which influenced the spelling of East Central German texts at this time. drey55 The spellings ‹ey› and ‹ei› can be taken as interchangeable; over time ‹ei› comes to prevail in Luther’s writings. teyl / Nemlich die rew / die peycht / die gnugthuung66 On ‹gn›, see §1; on ‹th›, see §4. / Vn̄ wiewol diszer vnderscheyd77 MHG had the forms underscheit (of which this is the reflex) and underschiet (of which NHG Unterschied is the reflex). nach yrer meynung / schwerlich adder88 = NHG oder; this word also appears with ‹o›, e.g. in 9; the spelling with ‹dd› here is consistent with a preceding vowel probably pronounced short at this time (see §§3 and 12). auch gar nichts99 = NHG nicht; nicht and nichts were to some extent interchangeable in ENHG. / gegrundet erfunden1010 = MHG gefunden; but see 9, where it means NHG erfunden. wirt in der heyligenn schrifft / noch1111 noch ‘nor’ can occur even without a preceding weder in ENHG. in den alten heyligen Christlichen lerern̄ / doch wollē wir das ycztszo1212 = NHG jetzt so; on the lack of spacing, see ‘How to Read the Sermon, 7’; on initial ‹y›, see §14. lassen bleyben / vnd nach yrher weysz reden.
¶ Czum andernn̄1313 ander co-existed with zweit- in ENHG as the word for ‘second’. sagen1414 ‘sagten’ in B. sie / der ablasz1515 The clause starting ‘der ablasz’ is an unintroduced subordinate clause; see §20. nympt1616 On ‹p›, see §6. nycht hynn das erst adder ander teyll / das ist / die rew adder peycht / sunderū1717 The print clearly has ‹ū›, which must be a mistake for ‹n›. das dritt / nemlich die gnugthuung.
¶ Czum Driten. die gnugthuung wirt weyter geteylet in drey teil1818 On the placement of such elements outside the verbal bracket, see §22. / das ist / Beeten1919 On ‹ee›, see §2. / vastē / almuszē / also / das beetē begreyfft allerlei werck der seelē2020 On the weak ending, see §16. eygē / als leszē / tichten2121 = NHG dichten; the spelling with ‹d› (adopted in NHG) reflects the derivation of this word from Latin dictare. / horen2222 On the non-marking of umlaut in this print, see §8. gottes wort / predigen / leeren vnd d’gleichen. Uasten begreiff allerlei werck der casteyūg seins fleyschs / als2323 = NHG wie. wachen / erbeiten2424 = NHG arbeiten, with umlaut of [a] > [e] conditioned by the following [ei]; this is a characteristically East Central German form; cf. ‘arbeiten’ in B. / hart2525 For the lack of inflectional ending, see §16. lager2626 ‘ligē’ ‘lying’ in B. / cleider &c. Almuszē begreyff allerlei gute werck2727 For the lack of inflectional ending, see §16. der lyeb vn̄ barmherczickeyt gegen dem nehsten.2828 Note dative after gegen as opposed to accusative in NHG.
¶ Czum Uierden2929 In this ordinal number, as well as in sibende and others ending -nde, ‹d› > ‹t› between ENHG and NHG by analogy with ordinal numbers such as erste-, dritte-, fünfte-. The ‹d› in ‘Uierden’ dates back to Old High German (fiordo), and in those ending -nde to MHG. / Jst bey yhn allē vngeczweyfelt3030 ‘vngeczweyflet’ in B; the ending would originally have been -elet, and the two prints reflect syncope of different unstressed vowels (see §1). / das der ablas hin nympt die selben werck der gnugthuūg / vor3131 = NHG für; see §19. die sund schuldig czuthun3232 ‘schuldig czuthun’ qualifies ‘sund’ and means ‘due (to be done)’; this sense of schuldig is not found in NHG. adder auffgeseczt / dannn3333 On ‹nnn›, see §3. szo3434 ‘if’; see §19. er die selben werck solt all hin nehmen / blieb nichts gutes mehr da / das wir thun mochtenn.3535 Here = NHG könnten.
[Page a2r] ¶ Czum Funfften. Jst bey vielē gewest3636 This form of the past participle as well as gewesen occurred across the High German dialect areas at this time. eyn große vn̄ noch vnbeschloszene opiny3737 This loan word from Latin opinio is rarely attested in ENHG. / Ab3838 = ob; see §§12 and 19. der ablas auch etwas mehr hynnehme / dann̄3939 = NHG als; see §19. solche auffgelegte gute werck / nemlich / ab er auch die peyne / die die gotlich gerechtigkeyt / vor die sunde / fordert / abnehme.
¶ Czum Sechsten. Lasz ich yhre opiny vnuorworffen̄ auff das4040 ‘disz’ in B. mal / Das sag ich / das mā ausz keyner schrifft bewerenn kan̄ / das gottlich gerechtigkeyt etwas peyn adder gnugthuung begere adder fordere4141 On the use of the subjunctive, see §20. / vonn dem sunder. Dan̄4242 Here = ‘except’. allein seyne herczliche vnd ware rew adder bekerūg myt vorsacz hynfurder4343 = NHG fürderhin. / das Creucz Christi4444 A Latin genitive singular ending; see §18. czu tragenn / vnnd die obgenanten werck (auch von nyemāt auffgeseczt) czu vben / Dan̄ szo4545 ‘also’ in B. spricht er durch Ezechie. Man4646 Comparison with ‘M’aria ‘M’agda. later in this point shows that there is indeed an ‘M’ in ‘Man’. The spelling may be deliberate, as wan (here = NHG wenn) is sometimes spelt man in ENHG; alternatively it could be a mistake, or the printer might have run out of the rare letter ‘W’ (the only genuine ‘W’ in the text occurs in ‘Wittenbergk’ in the title). B has ‘wan’. sich der sunder bekeret / vn̄ thut recht / so will ich seyner sunde nicht mehr gedencken. Jtem also hatt er selbs4747 On the absence of final ‹t›, see §5. all die absoluirt.4848 Note that Luther uses a loan word here (from Latin absolvēre) for a technical theological term for which there was no native equivalent. Maria Magda.4949 = ‘Magdalena’. den gichtpruchtigē.5050 = NHG gichtbrüchig. Die eebrecherynne &c. Un̄d mocht5151 The personal pronoun ‘ich’ is omitted before ‘mocht’ (= NHG ich möchte); this sometimes occurs in ENHG when the pronoun is obvious in context. woll5252 On the meaning of ‘wol’, see §19. gerne horen wer das anders bewerē soll. Unangesehen das eczlich doctores5353 A Latin nominative plural ending; see §18. szo gedaucht5454 On this form, see §17. haben.
¶ Czum Sibenden. Das findet man woll / das gott eczlich nach seyner gerechtigkeyt straffet / Ader durch peyne dringt czu der rew / wie ym .88. p̄s.5555 Abbreviation for ‘Psalm’ (abbreviated to ‘Psal.’ in B). Szo seyn kinder werden sundigen5656 ‘sünden’ in B. / will ich myt der ruthen5757 For this weak ending, see §16. / yhre sunde heym suchen / Aber doch meyn barmherczickeyt nit5858 This form represents nicht with weak speech stress; both forms are found in this text; in Luther’s later writings nicht predominates. vonn yhnn5959 = NHG ihnen. wendē. Aber disze peyne / stehet in nyemandes gewalt nachczulassen / dann̄ alleyne gottis.6060 The spelling ‹i› for the unstressed vowel [ə] is associated particularly with the Central German dialect area in ENHG. Ja er will sie nit lassen / sūder vorspricht6161 On vor- rather than ver-, see §13. / er woll sie aufflegē.6262 ‘er woll sie aufflegē’ is an unintroduced subordinate clause; see §20.
¶ Czum Achten. Der halbē6363 = NHG deshalb; this and the following ‘szo’ are both adverbs meaning ‘for this reason’. szo kann man der selbē gedunckten peyn / keynen namen geben / weysz6464 According to NHG grammar we should expect an expletive ‘es’ before ‘weysz’ to ensure that the finite verb is the second constituent in the clause. auch nyemant / was sye ist / szo6565 The word order which follows, with the finite verb in final position, tells us that this is a subordinate clause (with ‘szo’ meaning ‘if’ here). sie disze straff nyt ist. auch dye guten / obgenanten werck nit ist.
[Page a2v] ¶ Czum Neunden. Sag ich / ob6666 = NHG auch wenn ‘even if’; see §19. die Christenliche kirch noch heut beschlusz / vnd ausz ercleret / das6767 In NHG syntax, ‘das’ (= dass) would immediately follow ‘Sag ich’ at the beginning of the sentence; in ENHG the delayed position, which avoids the nesting of one subordinate clause in another, is not uncommon. der ablas mehr dan̄ die werck der gnugthuūng hyn neme6868 ‘beschlusz’, ‘ausz ercleret’, and ‘hyn neme’ are preterite subjunctives (their NHG equivalents are beschlösse, auserklärte, and hinnähme), as are ‘loszet’, ‘begeret’, ‘thetten’, and ‘litten’ later in the sentence. / szo were es den nocht6969 On final ‹t›, see §5. tausentmal besser / das keyn Christen mensch den ablas loszet oder begeret / sundern̄ das sye lieber die werck thetten vnnd die peyn litten / dan̄ der ablas / nit anderst ist nach7070 = noch; see §12. mag werden / dan̄ nachlassung gutter werck / vnnd heylsamer peyn / die man billich solt erwellē dann̄ vorlassen / wiewol etlich der newen prediger zweyerley peyne erfunden7171 Preterite plural of erfinden (NHG erfanden). / Medicatiuas Satisfactorias7272 Latin accusative feminine plural endings; see §18. / das ist etzlich peyn czur der gnugthuūng / eczlich czur der7373 Note the pleonastic ‘czur’ (= zu der) + ‘der’. besserung / Aber wir haben mehr freyheyt czuuorachten7474 Note that ‘czuuorachten’ (NHG zu verachten) would occur after the object ‘plauderey’ in NHG. (got lob)7575 ‘got zů lob’ in B. sulchs7676 The spelling with ‹u› is characteristic of East Central German (cf. ‘solichs’ in B); ‘sulchs’ and ‘des’ are genitive singulars with the substantival adjective ‘gleychen’; cf. English suchlike. vnnd des gleychen plauderey / dan̄ sie haben czu ertichten / dann̄ alle peyn / ya7777 A modal particle; see §27. alls was got auff legt / ist besserlich vnd tzu treglich7878 ‘zůtraͤglicher’ in B. den Christen.
¶ Czū czehenden / Das ist nichts7979 Here = NHG nicht. geredt / das der peyn vnnd werck czu vill8080 ‘der peyn vnnd werck’ are partitive genitives dependent on ‘czu vill’; see §21. seynn8181 This could represent NHG sind (indicative) or NHG seien (subjunctive); see §§17 and 20. / das der mensch sye nit mag vol brengen8282 Vowel lowering (here of [i] to [ɛ]) is characteristic of Central German; cf. ‘volbringen’ in B. This and the lowering of [u] > [o] and of [ü] > [ö] were conditioned particularly by a following nasal or l/r + consonant; see notes to ‘sunst’ in 13 and ‘furdert’ in 14. / der kurcz halben8383 = NHG halber. seyns lebens / Darumb8484 Given the delayed position of the verb in this clause, we can take ‘Darumb’ as an adverbial relative (‘for which reason’; = NHG worum) rather than as a demonstrative (‘for that reason’). yhm nott sey der Ablas. Antwort ich das / das kein grundt8585 On ‹dt›, see §4. hab / vn̄ eyn lauter geticht8686 In ENHG this could refer generally to something made up, not just a poem as in NHG Gedicht. ist / Dan̄ gott vnnd die heylige kirche / legen nyemand mehr auff / dan̄ yhm8787 B has the plural ‘yn’ here rather than the singular. czu tragē muglich8888 Forms of this word with ‹u› or, reflecting lowering before a nasal, with ‹o› co-existed in a number of dialect areas; similarly ‘kunen’ a few lines below. ist / als auch. S. Paul sagt / das got nit leszt vorsucht werden yemand / mehr dan̄ er mag tragen / vnd es langet8989 NHG langen no longer has this sense; a semantic equivalent is gereichen. nit wenig czu der Christenheyt schmach9090 On the order of noun and dependent genitive, see §21. / Das mā yhr schuld gibt / sye lege auff mehr / dan̄ wir tragen kunen.9191 ‘sye ... kunen’ is an unintroduced subordinate clause; see §20. B has ‘moͤgen’ rather than ‘kunen’.
¶ Czum eylfften.9292 = NHG elften; cf. MHG einlif ‘eleven’. Wann gleych9393 = NHG wenngleich. die pusz ym geystlichē recht geseczt / iczt9494 = NHG jetzt; see §14. noch ginge9595 On the use of the subjunctive; see §20. B has the plural ‘gingen’ here; ‘die pusz’ could be singular or plural (see §16). / Das vor ein yglich todtsund / syeben iar pusz auffgelegt were / Szo must doch die Christenheyt / dye selbē gesecz lassen / vn̄ nit weyter aufflegen / dan̄ sye eynem yglichen9696 ‘jetlichen’ in B. czu tragē warē.9797 = NHG wären. Uil weniger / nu9898 = ‘now that’; B has ‘so ... nun’. sye iczt nicht seyn / sall9999 On the spelling with ‹a›, see §12. mā achtē100100 B has ‘so soll man achtē / das meer’ instead of ‘sall mā achtē / das nicht mehr’. / das nicht mehr auffgelegt werde101101 On the use of the subjunctive, see §20. dan̄ yederman wol tragē kan.
[Page a3r] ¶ Czum czwelfftē.102102 On the spelling with ‹e›, see §11. Man sagt wol / das der sunder mit der vberingen103103 = NHG übrigen; the insertion of ‹n› may reflect colloquial pronunciation. peyn inszfegfewr104104 = ‘insz fegfewr’; on the lack of spacing, see ‘How to Read the Sermon, 7’. oder czum ablas geweyset sall werdenn / aber es wirt wol mehr dings105105 A partitive genitive (see §21); lit. ‘more of thing’. / an106106 In ENHG an(e), ‹a› = [a:]; this was later raised and rounded to [o:] in NHG ohne. grundt vnd bewerung gesagt.
¶ Czum Dreyczehendē. Es ist eyn groszer yrthū das yemādt meyne / er wolle gnugthun vor seyne sundt / so doch got die selbē alczeyt vmb sunst107107 = NHG umsonst; on ‹b›, see §6; for the later lowering of [u] to [o], see note to brengen in 10 above. / ausz vnscheczlicher gnad vorczeyhet / nichts darfur begerend / dā hynfurder woll leben.108108 NHG would have zu leben. Die Christenheyt fordert wol etwas / also mag sie vnd sall auch das selb nachlassen / vnnd nichts schweres adder vntreglichs auflegen.
¶ Czum Uierczehendē. Ablasz wirt czu gelassen vmb der vnuolkōmen vnd faulen [Christen]109109 ‘Christeu’ seems to be a clear error for ‘Christen’. willen / die sich nit wollen kecklich110110 ‘lively’; etymologically related to Engl quick. vben in guten wercken / oder vnleydlich seyn / dan̄ ablas furdert111111 = fürdert; for the later lowering of [ü] to [ö] as in NHG fördert, see note to brengen in 10 above. nyeman czum bessern / sundern duldet vnnd zuleszet yr vnuolkōmen112112 = NHG Unvollkommenheit (as it appears in B). / darumb soll man nit wider das113113 The noun was masculine or rarely, as here, neuter, in ENHG. ablas redenn / man sall aber auch nyemand darczu114114 = NHG dazu; the construction is not found in NHG and is equivalent to niemandem dazu raten or niemandem in dieser Sache zureden. reden.
¶ Czum Funffczehenden. Uill sicherer / vnnd besserer115115 Note the redundant -er. thet der / der lauter vmb gottes willen / gebe czu dē gebewde .S. Petri116116 Abbreviation for ‘Sancti Petri’, a Latin genitive singular; see §18; cf. ‘sanct Peters’ with a German genitive ending in 16. / ader was sunst genāt wirt / Dan das er ablasz darfur nehme117117 ‘thet… gebe… nehme’ are preterite subjunctives (= NHG täte… gäbe… nähme). / dann̄118118 Note that the causal conjunction ‘dann̄’ is followed by subordinate-clause word order here. es ferlich119119 ≈ NHG gefährlich. ist / das er sulch gabe vmb desz ablas120120 For lack of genitive singular ending, see §1. willē vn̄ nit vmb gotts willē gibt
¶ Czum Secheczehendē.121121 The ‹e› in the middle of ‘Secheczehendē’ is unhistoric and does not appear in B or in the Wittenberg prints. Uill besser ist das werck eynen122122 We should expect the dative ‘einem’ here; the nasal bar in B (‘einē’) could stand for ‹n› or ‹m›, and ‹n› here may be an error. durfftigen erczeygt / dan das czum gebewde geben123123 = ‘gegeben’. wirt auch vill besser / dan der ablas dafur gegebē / dan wie gesagt. Es ist besser eyn gutes werck gethā / dann̄ vill nach gelassen. Ablas aber / ist nachlassung villgutter werck / ader ist nichts nach gelassen. [Page a3v]Ja124124 B has ‘Aber’ here. das ich euch recht vnderweise. szo merckt auff / du salt125125 = NHG sollst and later ‘wilt’ = NHG willst; [s] was added by analogy with verbs whose second person singular ended -st (already in ‘magstu’ below). Note the switch from second-person plural to second-person singular between ‘merckt’ and ‘salt’. vor allenn dingen (widder126126 = NHG weder, often spelt with an ‹i› in Luther’s early writings; the spelling with ‹dd› here is consistent with a preceding vowel probably pronounced short in both weder and wider at this time (see §3). sanct Peters gebewde noch ablas angesehen) deynē nehsten armē geben / wiltu127127 On contracted forms, see §7. etwas geben. Wan̄ esz aber dahyn kumpt128128 On ‹p›, see §6. / das nyemandt yn deyner stat mehr ist der hulff129129 ENHG texts show widespread variation: helfe, hilfe, hülfe (B: ‘hilff’). bedarff (das ob gotwill nymer gescheen130130 The omission of ‹h› here suggests that it was no longer pronounced in medial position, which is consistent with its use as a length marker; see §2. sall) dan̄ saltu geben szo du wilt tzu den kirchen / altarn / schmuck / kelich131131 = NHG Kelch; an early loan word from Latin calix with umlaut of [a] > [e]. / die in deyner stat seyn. Und wen das auch nu nit mehr not ist / Dan̄ aller erst / szo du wilt / magstu geben zu dē gebewde. S. Peters adder anderwo. Auch soltu dannochnit das vmb ablas willen thun. dann̄132132 Note the redundant abbreviation; see ‘How to Read the Sermon, 2’. sant Paul spricht Wer seynē hausz genoszē nit wol thut / ist keyn Christē vnd erger dan̄ ein heyde / vn̄ halts133133 = ‘halt es’. dafur frey / wer dir āders sagt / der vorfurt dich / adder sucht yhe134134 The function of ‹h› here may be to indicate that the following, rather than the preceding, vowel is long (cf. §2). dein seel in deynem Beutell vnd fund135135 For this form, see §17. er pfenning darinne / das were136136 According to NHG word order, ‘were’ (= NHG wäre) would occur first in this clause; in ENHG it was usual not to invert subject and verb when a main clause followed a subordinate clause. ym lieber dan̄ all seelē. Szo sprichttu.137137 Note that ‹s› is missing here; cf. ‘sprichst du’ in B. Szo werd ich nymer mehr ablas loszen. Antwort ich / das hab ich schon obē gesagt / Das meyn will / begirde / bitt vn̄ ratt ist / das nyemandt ablas losze / lasz die faulen vnd schlefferigen Christen / ablas loszen / gang138138 A widespread form of the imperative singular of gehen in ENHG. du fur dich.
¶ Czum Sibenczehenden. Der ablas ist nich139139 On lack of final ‹t›, see §5. geboten auch nicht geratē / sundern̄ von der dinger czall140140 On the order of noun and dependent genitive, see §21. / die czu gelassen vn̄ erleubt141141 The umlauted form of this verb is associated particularly with East Central German (cf. ‘erloubt’ in B, and see ‘geleub’ for NHG glaube in 18). werdē. darumb ist es nit eyn werck des gehorsams / auch nit vordinstlich142142 = NHG verdienstvoll. / sundern̄ eyn ausz czug des gehorsams. Darumb wiewol man / nyemant weren143143 = NHG verwehren. soll / den czu loszen / szo solt mā doch alle Christē daruon cziehen / and zu den wercken vn̄ peynen / die do nachgelassen144144 ‘seyn/sind’ must be understood after ‘nachgelassen’; auxiliary verbs were sometimes omitted in ENHG subordinate clauses. reyczen vnd sterckenn̄.
¶ Czum Achtczehendē. Ab die seelen ausz dē fegfewr geczogen werden durch den ablas / weysz ich nit / vn̄geleub das auch noch nich / wiewol das eczlich new doctores sagen / aber ist yhn vnmuglich czubeweren / auch hat es die kirch noch nit beschlossen / darumb czu meh[Page a4r]rer145145 Note that mehr could serve as an adjective in ENHG. sicherheyt / vil besser ist es146146 The clause ‘darumb … es’ is either a main clause in which the finite verb ‘ist’ is delayed or a subordinate clause in which the finite verb and pronominal subject are (unusually) inverted at the end. / das du vor sie selbst bittest vn̄ wirckest / dann disz ist bewerter vn̄ ist gewisz
¶ Czum Neunczehendē. Jn dissen puncten hab ich nit czweyffel / vnnd sind147147 Note that the subject sie would have to be specified before ‘sind’ in NHG. gnugsam inder schrifft gegrund.148148 On the omission of the ending -et, see §1. Darumb solt ir auch keyn czweyffel haben / vn̄ last doctores Scholasticos / scholasticos149149 Latin accusative plural endings; see §18. sein / sie sein alsampt150150 On ‹p›, see §6. nit gnug / mit yhren opinien / das sie eyne prediget befestigenn soltenn.
¶ Czum czwenczigsten.151151 Forms of this word with ‹e› and ‹a› alternate in ENHG. Ab etzlich mich nu wol152152 Morphologically, ‘Ab’ and ‘wol’ should be taken together as a single conjunction like NHG obwohl; however, the conjunction means ‘even if’ rather than ‘although’ here. eynen keczer153153 ‘eynen keczer’ is in apposition to ‘mich’: ‘as a heretic.’ schelten / den154154 = NHG denen. solch warheyt seer schedlich ist im kasten. Szo acht ich doch solch geplerre nit grosz / sintemal155155 ‘since’; < MHG sint dem mâle ‘since that time’. das nit thun / dan̄ eczlich finster gehyrne / die die Biblien156156 On the weak ending, see §16. nie gerochē / die Christenlichē lerer nie geleszē157157 The lack of punctuation is explained by the fact that ‘geleszē’ is followed by a line break in the print; see ‘How to Read the Sermon, 1’. yhr eigen lerer158158 B has ‘lere ... leren’ (NHG Lehre(n)) as opposed to ‘lerer ... lerer’ (NHG Lehrer) here. nie vorstanden159159 The auxiliary verb ‘haben’ must be understood here. / sundern in yhren lochereten160160 = NHG löcherig; löcheret derives from MHG löchericht with weakening of -icht to -et. vnd czurissen161161 = NHG zerrissenen; the NHG prefix zer- appears as czu/zu- or czur/zur- throughtout Luther’s writings; on the loss of -en, see §1. opinien vill nah vorwesen / dā hetthen sie die vorstanden szo wisten162162 On this form, see §11. sie / das sie nyemādt solten lestern / vnuorhort vn̄ vnuberwundē / doch got geb yhn / vnd vns rechten sinn. Amen.
Forms of this word are commonly found with initial ‹t› and ‹d› in ENHG.Nach Christ geburt Tausent funff hundert vn̄ ym164164
Note that ‘ym’ occurs immediately before the inflected form, thus breaking up the numeral.achczehenden Jar.
About this text
IdentificationOxford, Taylor Institution Library, ARCH.8o.G.1518 (6)L 6270
About this edition
This is a facsimile and transcription of Eyn Sermon von dem Ablass vnnd Gnade. Luther, Martin, and Valentin Schumann | Leipzig: [Valentin Schumann], 1518. It is held by the Taylor Institution Library (shelf mark: ARCH.8o.G.1518(6)). Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts (VD 16) reference number: L6270.
The transcription was created by Christiane Rehagen, and encoded in TEI P5 xml by librarian Emma Huber.
The footnotes were created by Howard Jones. Some references are to the printed book.
The Sermon von Ablass und Gnade (Sermon on Indulgences and Grace) is a seminal text for the Reformation: it is the first vernacular statement of Luther’s views on the question which led to his break with Rome; the first printed work of his to reach a mass audience; and the first example of the direct, arresting style which became the hallmark of his German writings. The work hit the market 500 years ago, in the second half of March 1518, five months after the posting of the 95 Theses, and within three years at least 24 editions had been printed in various parts of Germany and Switzerland. Our volume is based on two of these editions, copies of which are held in the Taylor Institution Library, and presents a guide to the theological, historical, material, linguistic, and stylistic importance of this work.
The Sermon rejects scholastic teaching about indulgences and proposes instead a theology of grace. Luther meant the Sermon as an accessible summary of his views, and for the modern reader it is still the most succinct account of Luther’s side in the indulgence controversy, serving as an introduction to the more technical 95 Theses which are also included in Latin and English in this edition. The theological and historical context of the Sermon and 95 Theses is complex and dates back centuries before the actual texts. We explain this background and provide an evaluation of both works in ‘Theological and Historical Background’.
This volume includes side-by-side facsimiles of the two Taylorian copies on facing pages along with an edition based on the Leipzig edition and a new translation into modern English. We offer a detailed guide to the book-history in ‘The Taylorian Copies’ (including an analysis of the woodcuts in the Basel edition and the marginalia added to the Taylorian copy of the Leipzig edition), a preview to the follow-up pamphlets in the debate (cf. ill. 2), and an account of the acquisition history.
Ill. 2: Luther’s follow-up pamphlet in the Taylorian CollectionEyn Freyheyt Deß Sermons Bebstlichē ablaß vnd gnad belangend, Taylor Institution Library, Arch. 8° G. 1523 (43/2) [Leipzig: Valentin Schumann 1518], VD16 L 4741
By putting his arguments in the vernacular, Luther could simultaneously address experts and win over the general public, whereas only the former was possible in Latin. This first publishing success was followed by a stream of sermons, treatises, and other pastoral, polemical, and political writings over the next few years, all written in an evolving but distinctive style of German. In ‘Language and Style’, we offer a linguistic analysis of the Sermon, highlighting differences from modern German, dialect features of these two editions (East Central German and Low Alemannic), and some of the stylistic qualities which were to characterize Luther’s German writing for the rest of his career.
This is the first time that these two editions have been made available to a modern audience. To make the Early New High German text in its original spelling accessible for students of Linguistics as well as Theology and History, a guide on ‘How to Read the Sermon’ is included. Of the two Taylorian copies, the one published in Leipzig by Valentin Schumann is probably more similar to what Luther wrote than the Basel one by Pamphilus Gengenbach, since the text is closer to the earliest Wittenberg version of the Sermon. We therefore use the Leipzig edition as the basis for the facing transcription to the new translation. At editions.mml.ox.ac.uk the Basel edition has also been transcribed as a further example of printed material and of the variation that could exist between different versions of the same work – in appearance, dialect, and content.
Emma Huber, Howard Jones, Martin Keßler, Henrike Lähnemann, and Christina OstermannOxford, March 2018
Anno Domini 1518. End of the Leipzig print of the SermonTaylor Institution Library, Arch. 8° G. 1518 (6),
1. Theological and Historical Background
Luther’s 95 Theses are widely considered to mark the beginning of the Reformation. Over the course of four centuries, beginning in Saxony in 1617, 31 October has established itself as the pivotal date in Reformation memory.1.1. Thomas Kaufmann, Das Reformationsjubiläum 1617, in: Thomas Kaufmann, Dreißigjähriger Krieg und Westfälischer Friede. Kirchengeschichtliche Studien zur lutherischen Konfessionskultur, Tübingen 1998 (Beiträge zur historischen Theologie 104), 10–23. While the epoch-making, heroic image of Luther nailing his series of disputation theses to the doors of Wittenberg’s Castle Church has been questioned and debated for six decades, it is clear that such as an act would have been anything but spectacular.2.2. The best summary of the earlier discussions is in a series of articles in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht. Zeitschrift des Verbandes der Geschichtslehrer Deutschlands 16/11 (1965), 661–99. For more recent considerations see Joachim Ott and Martin Treu (eds), Luthers Thesenanschlag – Faktum oder Fiktion, Leipzig 2008 (Schriften der Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt 9) and Uwe Wolff (ed.), Iserloh. Der Thesenanschlag fand nicht statt, Basel 2013 (Studia oecumenica Friburgensia 61). Disputation theses were addressed to the academic public, accordingly written in Latin, displayed on the local church doors which served as the university’s notice board, and sometimes also sent to other scholars. If this is what Luther did, he did not stop there, for he also sent his theses to senior representatives of the local church hierarchy. On 31 October 1517, the eve of All Saints’ Day, he attached his theses to a letter to Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz and Magdeburg.3.3. Luther’s writings (WA) und letters (WA.Br) are quoted from D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 120 vols, Weimar 1883–2009; here: WA.Br 1, 110–12. Parts of the letter are translated by Hans J. Hillerbrand (ed.), The Protestant Reformation. Revised edition, New York [etc.] 2009, 25–27. In his own account from 1518 and in later years, Luther mentions also having written to Hieronymus Scultetus, Bishop of Brandenburg and Havelberg.4.4. Cf. WA.Br 1, 113–14, and for further important references Hans Volz, Martin Luthers Thesenanschlag und dessen Vorgeschichte, Weimar 1959, 19–23. If these recollections are accurate, Luther was engaging with two senior echelons of the church right from the start. As it turned out, these formal steps, together with the theological content of what he wrote and the legal claims he made about the sale in indulgences at the time, triggered a chain of events that led within three years to Luther’s excommunication.
What made the 95 Theses special and how can one best study this classic piece of Reformation history? The present edition provides various answers and offers one practical suggestion: ease yourself in gently by reading the Sermon on Indulgences and Grace and then proceed to the theses. Why? Because – to put it bluntly – the 95 Theses would otherwise be largely incomprehensible. Even scholarly readers accept that the theses taken on their own demand explanation and exposition, but this simply illustrates the nature of disputation theses.5.5. Cf. Anselm Schubert, Libertas Disputandi. Luther und die Leipziger Disputation als akademisches Streitgespräch, in: Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 105 (2008), 411–42. They were intended for an academic debate in which authorities and arguments were tossed back and forth. In academic disputations the pros and cons were represented by two sides – individuals or groups –, those of opponent and respondent. The opponent’s task was to cite counter-arguments to the theses – whether from biblical authority, patristic sources, theological doctrine, legal tradition, or general reason and experience –, while the respondent had to evaluate and develop the arguments. Luther’s 95 Theses fit into this pattern: they provide the basis for a more detailed and structured exchange, and they are neither sufficient nor self-explanatory. They invite contradiction or agreement on the basis of solid authority. The author’s own comments, clarifications, or conclusions were sometimes documented in subsequent explanations. When dealing with a series of academic theses like Luther’s, one thus has to study both the theses themselves and (if available) the resolutiones or propositiones which followed. In Luther’s case, we have the resolutiones to most of his early disputation theses, including these. If one hopes to get the gist of the early Reformation by reading the 95 Theses, one must also digest Luther’s explanations – and indeed be aware of their sheer size: the two oldest surviving editions of the theses themselves are broadsides;6.6. Josef Benzing and Helmut Claus, Lutherbibliographie. Verzeichnis der gedruckten Schriften Martin Luthers bis zu dessen Tod, 1, Baden-Baden 21989 (Bibliotheca bibliographica Aureliana 10), 16, nos 87–88. The two known broadsides are from Nuremberg and Leipzig. It is an on-going debate whether there was an initial print from Wittenberg which was lost. It has been recently suggested that Luther was involved in the production of the Leipzig print; see Thomas Kaufmann, Druckerpresse statt Hammer, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31 Oct. 2016, 6. the corresponding Resolutiones disputationum de indulgentiarum virtute come to 120 pages in the smaller quarto format.7.7. Cf. WA 1, 523.
Despite their length, Luther must have handwritten – or had written – at least three manuscript copies of his Resolutiones. One version became the basis for the eventual print that was completed by August 1518. The other two reveal whom Luther intended to keep informed about the exchange of arguments: the first of these manuscripts was sent in February 1518 to Hieronymus Scultetus to satisfy the requirements of episcopal supervision and the second, three months later, to the Pope via Johann von Staupitz.8.8. WA.Br 1, 138–40, 525–27. Luther’s letter to Scultetus survives and offers an interesting summary of previous events; it is the earliest comprehensive account by Luther himself of what happened. According to this document, ‘new and unheard-of doctrines’ regarding apostolic indulgences had started to spread from the latest sales that had reached the region.9.9. WA.Br 1, 138. One has to bear in mind when reading these words that ‘new’ teaching was synonymous with heresy. The nature of apostolic doctrines is that they are old and go back to the origins of Christianity. Accordingly, this is Luther pointing out heretical elements in current church practices. Luther explains that his own involvement springs from a sense of spiritual and theological responsibility: simple and educated people alike have approached him for his own professional assessment. Luther claims to have initially responded in a reserved, non-committal way, but that this had backfired, since it increased and sharpened the criticism he faced. His solution was not to take sides, but to open up a debate, ‘until the holy church’ had taken a binding decision on the topic.10.10. WA.Br 1, 139. Hence ‘I sent out the disputation, inviting and asking everyone publicly, and asking the most learned scholars I knew privately, so that they might at least reveal their opinion in writing’.11.11. WA.Br 1, 139 (reading novi instead of the conjecture nosti). The reactions disappointed Luther. Scholars did not answer: on the contrary, the text was circulated more widely and was mistaken for ‘assertions’ instead of theses intended for a debate.12.12. WA.Br 1, 139. If one turns to the original invitation to the 95 Theses at the beginning of the translated text in this edition, it corresponds with the summary just given. It has to be stressed, however, how unusual this procedure was. Luther’s introduction does not fix a date for the disputation and it does not state who the protagonists would be. In Wittenberg there is only one other example of such an arrangement for a disputation. Six months earlier, in April 1517, Luther’s theological colleague Andreas Bodenstein, named after his Franconian native town of Karlstadt, issued a series of 152 theses which documented his farewell to the scholastic teaching traditions in which he had himself excelled as Wittenberg’s most prolific and versatile exponent, and showcased his new affiliation with an Augustinian-based theology of grace.13.13. Edited by Ulrich Bubenheimer and Martin Keßler, in: Thomas Kaufmann (ed.), Kritische Gesamtausgabe der Schriften und Briefe Andreas Bodensteins von Karlstadt, 1/1: 1507–1517, Gütersloh 2017 (Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte 90/1), 499–511. Karlstadt, too, had left the intended time and participants open. His correspondence reveals that he had hoped to attract the leading scholars in the territory to take part in a major disputation in Wittenberg.14.14. Ulrich Bubenheimer and Martin Keßler, Einleitung, in: Kaufmann, Gesamtausgabe, 485–98, here: 494–95. It has been suggested that Karlstadt might have been inspired in this format by Pico della Mirandola who had planned to debate 900 theses before a huge audience in 1487.15.15. For the discovery and documentation of Karlstadt’s knowledge of the text, see the introduction and edition by Ulrich Bubenheimer, in: Kaufmann, Gesamtausgabe, 365–71. Neither Karlstadt’s nor Luther’s theses led to an actual disputation. Still, in Luther’s case it is clear that the intended audience would have been a locally or regionally restricted academic one.16.16. Cf. WA.Br 1, 113–14. In March 1518 Luther confirmed this to his former Wittenberg colleague from the Faculty of Law, Christoph Scheurl, who had returned to his hometown Nuremberg to take up a senior municipal post.17.17. WA.Br 1, 152.
To some extent, Scheurl was responsible for the theses being more widely publicized and distributed, especially in the south of Germany. One of the two known broadsides, printed like a poster just on one side of folio-sized paper, is from Nuremberg and was forwarded by Scheurl to Johannes Eck, a rising theological star at the University of Ingolstadt. Scheurl has been described as an ‘enthusiast of friendship’18.18. Gustav Bauch, Christoph Scheurl in Wittenberg, in: Neue Mitteilungen aus dem Gebiete historisch-antiquarischer Forschungen 21 (1903), 33–42, here: 33. or the ‘platform and networking service of German humanism’19.19. Johann Peter Wurm, Johannes Eck und die Disputation von Leipzig 1519. Vorgeschichte und unmittelbare Folgen, in: Markus Hein and Armin Kohnle (eds), Die Leipziger Disputation 1519. 1. Leipziger Arbeitsgespräch zur Reformation, Leipzig 2011 (Herbergen der Christenheit, special vol. 18), 95–106, here: 96.. His goal was to instigate and encourage relationships between his own numerous friends. Attempts to recommend Eck and Luther to one another started off promisingly, but did not really develop. Scheurl had sent disputation theses from Eck to Wittenberg in April 1517; Luther did not reply directly, but asked Scheurl to forward his so-called Disputatio contra scholasticam theologiam to Eck in October 1517.20.20. Peter Fabisch and Erwin Iserloh (eds), Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri (1517–1521), 1: Das Gutachten des Prierias und weitere Schriften gegen Luthers Ablaßthesen (1517–1518), Münster 1988 (Corpus Catholicorum 41), 376–77. By the end of the first week of 1518, Scheurl had distributed the 95 Theses widely. He had sent them to Augsburg and Ingolstadt; one of his friends had produced a German translation; and Eck had been responsive enough to announce that he would walk ten miles in order to debate with Luther.21.21. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 377. For the political background to the German translation see Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager, Die Verkündigung des St. Petersablasses in Mittel und Nordeuropa 1515–1519, in: Andreas Rehberg (ed.), Ablasskampagnen des Spätmittelalters. Luthers Thesen von 1517 im Kontext, Berlin 2017 (Bibliothek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom 132), 565–610, here: 594. Interestingly, what Eck did with the 95 Theses was no different from what Luther had done: he presented them to his local bishop and offered an annotated version.22.22. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 378–79. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 595–96, reconstructs the personal and structural involvement of the bishop of Eichstätt in questioning the indulgence campaign. Eck’s remarks show that he, too, saw potential heresy, but this time on Luther’s side. On eleven consecutive theses he remarked that they were ‘crude and tasteless, or rather they taste like Bohemia’.23.23. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 435. The ‘Bohemian poison’,24.24. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 431. as he also calls it, was a reference to the last great heresy that had brought war to an entire nation: that of Jan Hus, the scholar from Prague who had taken up the theological promptings of the Oxford theologian John Wyclif.25.25. On the various aspects of this topic see František Šmahel (ed.), A companion to Jan Hus, Leiden [etc.] 2015 (Brill’s companions to the Christian tradition, 54). Specifically on Hus and indulgences, see Pavel Soukup, Jan Hus und der Prager Ablassstreit von 1412, in: Rehberg, Ablasskampagnen, 523–64, here: 485–500. Eck went on to become Luther’s and Karlstadt’s opponent in the Leipzig Debate in 1519, the Reformation’s first actual disputation that reached a wide audience.26.26. Hein/Kohnle, Disputation. Following the Leipzig Debate, Eck travelled to Rome and worked out the papal bull that threatened Luther with excommunication in 1520.
So far we have looked at the nature of academic disputations and found that, to some extent, Luther kept to the established procedure, but also opened it up. What might strike one as puzzling in all this is Luther’s incidental and yet central claim: that the church’s teaching on indulgence had not been finalized. Was this the case, and what are indulgences anyway? Luther’s first thesis introduces the term by referring to Matthew 4: 17 and Jesus’s call to ‘Do penance’ (or ‘Repent’), ‘for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ He could just as well have quoted Matthew 3: 2, since Jesus himself is taking up the words of John the Baptist. Penance or penitence (lat. poenitentia)27.27. See the note to thesis 1 of Luther’s 95 Theses in this edition, p. 33. initially described the one and only life-changing turning point in an individual’s development towards God. The Greek ‘metanoia’ (μετάνοια) can refer to this very process: a complete and utter change to a human’s inner disposition or direction. Penance and baptism almost coincided as the key moment of rearranging the relationship to God. Implicitly this involved the hope of living without deviating further from God. But this raised a fresh problem: What happened if followers relapsed? From this question a shift in terminology transformed the fundamental dimension of distance from God into a selection of outrageous acts. In particular, three main sins developed from the Ten Commandments: denying or renouncing God (‘apostasy’), adultery, and murder. Various options were considered about how to handle these and other violations. A radical view was expressed in Hebrews 6: 4–8: Whoever sins after baptism is to be excluded from the church for good. It is questionable whether this position was ever actually applied. Another position was taken in a visionary text, the Shepherd of Hermas, written around 100 A.D. After baptism, so the suggestion goes, the sinner could be reintegrated into the congregation, but only once, ‘since for the servants of God there is just one penance’.28.28. Die Apostolischen Väter. Griechisch-deutsche Parallelausgabe auf der Grundlage der Ausgaben von Franz Xaver Funk, Karl Bihlmeyer und Molly Whittaker mit Übersetzungen von M. Dibelius und D.-A. Koch neu übersetzt und herausgegeben von Andreas Lindemann und Henning Paulsen, Tübingen 1992, 380–81 (mandatum IV, 8). Although Hermas dealt with adultery, it was the offence of apostasy that became a mass phenomenon during the centuries to come. In the wake of various conflicts and schisms, practical solutions evolved.29.29. Cf. Wolfram Kinzig and Martin Wallraff, Das Christentum des 3. Jahrhunderts zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit, in: Dieter Zeller (ed.), Christentum I. Von den Anfängen bis zur Konstantinischen Wende, Stuttgart 2002 (Religionen der Menschheit 28), 331–88. These included bishop Basilius of Caesarea recording a number of authoritative canones and suggesting a two-step procedure: public confession by the sinner before the congregation, followed by the church’s proposal of special works of penance. Three acts were recommended and performed in particular: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.30.30. On the biblical background, see the note to §3 of the Sermon on Indulgences and Grace in this edition, p. 7.
The transitional period between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages witnessed two tendencies.31.31. Cf. Arnold Angenendt, Grundformen der Frömmigkeit im Mittelalter, München 22004 (Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte 68), 43. Under one of these tendencies, Augustine highlighted the universal dimensions of sin, with the result that the more extensively sin was understood to refer to all sorts of human attitudes and actions, the more inclusively penance had to be defined. Accordingly, under the second of these tendencies, the act of penance turned into a highly specialised institution during the Middle Ages. Owing to the huge quantity and wide variety of possible offences, the previously public confession turned into a private procedure between culprit and confessor. Highly influential in the British Isles and on the continent were the monks from Ireland and Scotland who drew up detailed, comprehensive catalogues about the appropriate relationship between deeds and penalties.32.32. Arnold Angenendt, Das Frühmittelalter. Die abendländische Christenheit von 400 bis 900, Stuttgart [etc.] 21995, 210. The increase in the number of penalties imposed gave rise to two trends. Firstly, more physically demanding, intensive forms of prayer and fasting started to develop, replacing the more time-consuming activities carried out previously.33.33. Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, 211. Arnold Angenendt, Geschichte der Religiosität im Mittelalter, Darmstadt 1997, 637. From this the second trend evolved, which was that not only the act of penance, but also the performer of the act, could be substituted; thus, instead of praying, one could consider giving alms to a monk to do so.34.34. Angenendt, Religiosität, 639. The concept of personal commutation35.35. Angenendt, Frühmittelalter, 211. Angenendt, Religiosität, 636–39. was connected with endowments. By funding or supporting monasteries, landlords could expect to profit personally from the monks’ prayers. From these, a hierarchy of works developed: collective efforts were better than individual works; the merits of saints surpassed those of the living; and the benefits of Christ trumped all of these as well as the merits of the Apostles.36.36. Angenendt, Religiosität, 653–54. The theory of thesaurus ecclesiae, the Treasury of Merits that transcended time and space, followed from this and was elaborated academically in the 13th century.37.37. Gustav Adolf Benrath, Ablaß, in: Gerhard Krause and Müller Müller (eds), Theologische Realenzyklopädie 1, Berlin [etc.] 1977, 347–64, here: 349. Around this time, the term indulgentia began to replace older concepts of personal exchange and participation in remission.38.38. Benrath, Ablaß, 347. A related question that had troubled Christians since their early history was God’s final judgement: When was this due – after an individual’s death or at the end of time? Various concepts developed and even merged.39.39. Instructive on the topic is Peter Jezler, Himmel, Hölle, Fegefeuer. Das Jenseits im Mittelalter. Eine Ausstellung des Schweizerischen Landesmuseum in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Schnütgen-Museum und der Mittelalterabteilung des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums der Stadt Köln, München 21994. For some, such as saints, John 5: 24–29 might apply and offer direct passage to eternal life. Most, however, had to await a final judgement as described in Matthew 25: 31–46, either individually (‘particular judgement’) or collectively (‘universal judgement’). The potential punishments took time; thus, some souls had to pass through a purifying period before being granted eternal life in heaven. This idea of an intermediate stage has a long tradition40.40. The classic work is Jacques le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, London 1984. A solid summary is given by Angenendt, Religiosität, 706–08. For illustrative references, including Bede, see Meinolf Schumacher, Sündenschmutz und Herzensreinheit. Studien zur Metaphorik der Sünde in lateinischer und deutscher Literatur des Mittelalters, München 1996 (Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 73), 469. and was identified with a purgatory (lat. purgatorium) which was more closely defined, theologically and dogmatically, from the 13th century onwards. In precise terms, purgatory offered satisfaction to sinners who had taken the first steps towards penance but who had not managed to perform the acts imposed during their lifetime.41.41. See the note to thesis 15 of Luther’s 95 Theses in this edition, p. 36. For Martin V’s bull Inter cunctas from 1418 implying this, see Heinrich Denzinger, Kompendium der Glaubensbekenntnisse und kirchlichen Lehrentscheidungen. Verbessert, erweitert, ins Deutsche übertragen und unter Mitarbeit von Helmut Hoping ed. by Peter Hünermann, Freiburg [etc.] 432010, 416, no. 1266. For guidance on further documents relevant to this topic see Denzinger/Hünermann, Kompendium 1692, K10b. This is where indulgence, and indulgences, come in. In 1300, Boniface VIII was the first pope to announce a ‘holy year’ in which complete remission of sins was offered to visitors to Roman churches who had truly repented and confessed.42.42. Denzinger/Hünermann, Kompendium, 358, no. 868. Acts of penance were accordingly still required and not completely eliminated. Four decades later, Pope Clemens VI’s bull Unigenitus Dei filius linked the Church’s administration of its treasury, the thesaurus ecclesiae mentioned above, to the granting of indulgence (i.e. dispensation) for the remission of acts of penance according to specific temporal, local, and personal conditions.43.43. Corpus iuris canonici. Editio Lipsiensis secunda post Aemilii Ludovici Richteri, curas ad librorum manu scriptorum et editionis Romanae fidem recognovit et adnotatione critica instruxit Aemilius Friedberg, 2: Decretalium collectione, Leipzig 1879 [reprint Graz 1959], 1304–06. Denzinger/ Hünermann, Kompendium, 384, no. 1025–27. The ‘holy year’ of 1300 illustrates the basic pattern of such conditions and became a model for further holy years, events, and places that involved activities leading to the benefit of indulgence. Starting in Rome, such offers were at first geographically restricted and then became available all over Europe, taking a wide variety of cultural forms. The requirement to be physically present in Rome to be granted indulgence was relaxed and other means of involving relevant places or people were developed. Thus, ‘ad instar’-indulgences offered measures of indulgence equivalent to what had been defined elsewhere. Connections between, for example, an Italian church (and its offers of indulgence) and venues in Germany were legally fixed – and, as it turned out, later revoked – in papal documents. Relics were another means of participating in the thesaurus ecclesiae, and thus, in indulgence, in that they granted personal or physical contact to valued figures of the Christian past.44.44. Hartmut Kühne, Ostensio reliquiarum. Untersuchungen über Entstehung, Ausbreitung, Gestalt und Funktion der Heiltumsanweisungen im römisch-deutschen Regnum, Berlin 2000 (Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 75). For a brief account with valuable updates: Hartmut Kühne, Ablassvermittlung und Ablassmedien um 1500. Beobachtungen zu Texten, Bildern und Ritualen um 1500 in Mitteldeutschland, in: Rehberg, Ablasskampagnen, 427–57. Pilgrimages provided another pathway to indulgence, if they involved visiting places with valued relics on special dates for particular benefits. By the end of the 15th century, indulgences had turned from an exclusive to an extensive good. As in 1300 in Rome, it started off as a locally and temporally restricted offering, and within a century had met with huge demand resulting occasionally in inflationary supply. The national and international dimensions of this have recently been carefully documented and critically reviewed, both for England and the rest of Europe.45.45. R.N. Swanson (ed.), Promissory Notes on the Treasury of Merits. Indulgences in Late Medieval Europe, Leiden 2006 (Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition 5). R.N. Swanson, Indulgences in Late Medieval England. Passport to paradise?, Cambridge [etc.] 2007. Abigail Firey (ed.), A New History of Penance, Leiden [etc.] 2008 (Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition 14).
Classic Protestant perspectives have tended significantly to devalue and degrade the medieval indulgence trade. Nevertheless, even in older scholarship there is a tradition of reassessing the status of this practice. To some extent one could interpret the magnum opus of Nikolaus Paulus, one of Max Weber’s earliest readers, as a counter-part to Weber’s own classic study on The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Paulus’s Geschichte des Ablasses am Ausgang des Mittelalters sets about interpreting ‘indulgences as a social factor in the Middle Ages’, as an English translation of one of its central passages puts it.46.46. Indulgences as a Social Factor in the Middle Ages. By Nikolaus Paulus. Translated by J. Elliot Ross. With a foreword by Eugene C. Barker, New York 1922. The latest edition of the original work has appeared with some bibliographical additions: Nikolaus Paulus, Geschichte des Ablasses am Ausgang des Mittelalters, 3 vols, Darmstadt 22000. Indulgence campaigns, according to Paulus, did not just accumulate and alienate capital by exporting it from the territories, but the resources raised were substantially reinvested in local and regional infrastructure, e.g. by promoting and financing the building of new roads that were necessary to access places of worship and pilgrimage. In more recent Protestant scholarship, a new awareness has developed about the spiritual dimensions of indulgence practices. Bernd Moeller thought that he detected a ‘trace of the Gospel’ in them,47.47. Bernd Moeller, Die letzten Ablaßkampagnen. Luthers Widerspruch gegen den Ablaß in seinem geschichtlichen Zusammenhang, in: Bernd Moeller, Die Reformation und das Mittelalter, Kirchenhistorische Aufsätze, ed. by Johannes Schilling, Göttingen 1991, 53–72, here: 54. before Berndt Hamm noted ‘amazing congruences’ between the quest for certainty in salvation during the Middle Ages and in the Reformation. According to Hamm, conflicting contemporary responses were close yet different: the acquisition of indulgence involved a ‘minimum’ of a person’s own efforts – receiving the gift of the Gospel none. Hamm calls this move from gradual human involvement to an exclusively divine act a ‘quantum leap’.48.48. Berndt Hamm, Ablass und Reformation. Erstaunliche Kongruenzen, Tübingen 2016, 159, 168, 244. Social and economic studies of German indulgence campaigns are very valuable. Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager49.49. Wilhelm Ernst Winterhager, Ablaßkritik als Indikator historischen Wandels vor 1517: Ein Beitrag zu Voraussetzungen und Einordnungen der Reformation, in: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 90 (1999), 6–71. challenged the established assumption that the indulgences which were offered enjoyed widespread demand. By comparing the geographical and financial aspects of indulgence sales in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation around 1500, he noted two significant developments.50.50. Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 22–34. In the years before Luther issued the 95 Theses, organized indulgence sales had narrowed from Empire-wide to territorial campaigns. In big cities such as Nuremberg and Frankfurt am Main, revenues raised by indulgence commissioners fell dramatically in some areas and remained substantial in others. This gave rise to the second development: the territorial campaigns from 1513 onwards shifted their focus from cities to remoter and more rural areas. The infamous campaign organized by Albrecht of Mainz falls into this category.51.51. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 585–86. The sale to fund the building of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome initially ran from 1515 to 1518 under the direction of the papal legate Arcimboldi in the church provinces of Cologne, Trier, and Bremen and the dioceses of Meißen and Kammin.52.52. For a summary see Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 23, in more detail Winterhager, Verkündigung, 569–73. When Albrecht of Mainz negotiated in 1514 the option of becoming archbishop of Magdeburg, his representatives had strong reservations after the papal side suggested that Albrecht should promote the indulgence campaign as a means of financing the deal.53.53. Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 40. See also Winterhager, Verkündigung, 566–67. Albrecht’s associates had been fully aware of the ‘aversion’ that this type of campaign was liable to provoke.54.54. Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 40. Others, including Albrecht of Brandenburg-Ansbach, turned down such offers, raising similar concerns.55.55. Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 40–41; Winterhager, Verkündigung, 575–76. The indulgence trade organized by Albrecht from 1516 to 1518 was confined to his territories of Mainz, Magdeburg, and Brandenburg.56.56. Winterhager, Ablaßkritik, 23.
All this has to be borne in mind when we come back to the letter which Luther wrote to Albrecht of Mainz enclosing the 95 Theses. It refers to practices in neighbouring regions in which a limited, but highly effective, campaign was being conducted. These areas added up to more than half of the German territories within the Holy Roman Empire. Most of the other parts were handled by Arcimboldi, who was also involved in Sweden and Finland.57.57. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 567. Maps of the campaign offer an excellent overview of the territories and countries involved: Hartmut Kühne, Enno Bünz, and Peter Wiegand (eds), Johann Tetzel und der Ablass. Begleitband zur Ausstellung ‘Tetzel – Ablass – Fegefeuer’ in Mönchenkloster und Nikolaikirche Jüterbog vom 8. September bis 26. November 2017, Berlin 2017, 293–98. After Emperor Maximilian had legalized the sale of indulgences in the Holy Roman Empire in 1515,58.58. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 568. many German territories and cities remained sceptical about the new campaign.59.59. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 582–98. Territorial, regional, or local resistance was feasible, but it was subject to Roman and canon law as well as to the pragmatic consideration of how far Albrecht of Mainz was prepared to go in his legal response given the risk of further opposition from other territorial rulers.60.60. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 589. The Albertine Duke of Saxony, George, actively prevented the sale in his territory, since he objected to the loss of revenue that would have resulted in his area.61.61. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 589. Like all other sovereigns – except Albrecht of Mainz, the Emperor who had received a substantial sum for his permission,62.62. See note 58 and Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 210. and the Pope – he did not profit from the proceeds. In March 1517, Luther’s sovereign, the Elector Frederick the Wise, and his brother Johann responded similarly in their territories,63.63. Peter Wiegand, in: Netzwerke eines ‘berühmten Practicus’? Was Tetzel zum erfolgreichen Ablasskommissar machte, in: Kühne/Bünz/Wiegand, Tetzel, 124–60, here: 149. although no documents have been identified to support the notion that they had financial motives for doing so.64.64. Peter Wiegand, Marinus de Fregeno – Raimund Peraudi – Johann Tetzel. Beobachtungen zur vorreformatorischen Ablasspolitik der Wettiner, in: Rehberg, Ablasskampagnen, 305–33, here: 325. In any case, the vast collection of relics housed in the Castle Chapel of Wittenberg, the city’s main church institution, which had been granted extensive privileges, offered an impressive number of indulgences. Still, the difference between plenary indulgences – the remission of all sins – and partial indulgences, as abundant as they may have been, remained. Only a year before denying the latest campaign access to his territories, Frederick the Wise had requested permission from the Pope to increase the number of indulgence associated with his relic collection in Wittenberg.65.65. Paulus, Geschichte 3, 245.
In terms of indulgences, the campaign to support the building of St Peter’s had more to offer. The campaign was announced in Leo X’s bull Sacrosanctis of 31 March 1515,66.66. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 212–24. and promoted plenary indulgences to a wide range of potential buyers. The bull describes in great detail the offences to be dealt with and the applicable financial contributions. The latter included temporarily redirecting to the campaign existing endowments to churches or brotherhoods. Acquirers of indulgences could select the priest to whom they made confession, and special documents instructed confessors accordingly. The offer of complete remission of all sins applied to laypeople and clerics alike, dead or alive. The thesaurus ecclesiae67.67. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 222–23. referred to in the bull allowed apostolic successors, i.e. the pope and his official representatives, to administer and distribute the benefits it contained.
The bull itself did not trigger the campaign immediately since the subsequent negotiations took time. In 1516 Albrecht of Mainz was legally guaranteed half of the profits, but the operations in his territories could not start until 1517.68.68. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 211. By then, the sale organized by Arcimboldi was up and running, and it is likely that Luther had already come across preachers from this leg of the campaign in 1516.69.69. Summing up Wolfgang Breul’s argument: Volker Leppin, Das ganze Leben Buße. Der Protest gegen den Ablass im Rahmen von Luthers frühen Bußtheologie, in: Rehberg, Ablasskampagnen, 523–64, here: 547, note 116. Apart from personal interactions, printing played an important role in publicizing the particular terms of the indulgence, as recent discoveries have shown. Summaries of the papal bull appeared in broadsides, fragments of which have been identified in both Latin and German.70.70. Ulrich Bubenheimer, Druckerzeugnisse aus der Leipziger Offizin Melchior Lotters d.Ä. für den von Albrecht von Brandenburg vertriebenen Petersablass und deren Funktion, in: Kühne/Bünz/Wiegand, Tetzel, 267–85. The complete text of the German summary can be reconstructed from a quarto edition that had been considered missing since 1899,71.71. On the print cf. Bubenheimer, Petersablass, 276: ‘Hier wird ein Druck vorgestellt, der gegenwärtig verschollen ist’ with 277, note 51. but which was rediscovered in 2017.72.72. Dis ist ain kurtzer begriff oder Summa der macht vnnd artickel/ des aller volkommlichsten/ vnnd aller hailigsten Ablaß etc. (BSB München, sig. Rar. 1873#Beibd. 2), digitally available at http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/ ~db/0011/bsb00110038/images/. To our knowledge, this summary of the bull represents the most popular printed text containing information on the terms and conditions of the offering. The German version entirely matches the Latin fragments; it can be concluded that one text was distributed in two languages and printed in at least two different formats. The title page does not survive,73.73. For a suggestion on this see Bubenheimer, Petersablass, 277. but the header on the first page announces a summary (Summa) of the bull that was to offer ‘the most perfect’ indulgence of ‘pein’ and ‘schuldt’,74.74. Summa, A2r. the German equivalents of poena and culpa. ‘Pein’ (translated in this edition as ‘punishment’)75.75. See the first note to thesis 4 in the 95 Theses, p. 34. refers to works of satisfaction imposed in life or the temporal, purifying punishments after death. ‘Schuldt’ (translated as ‘guilt’) concerns the principal dimension of human responsibility and divine acceptance or rejection. Even though the institution of penance dealt with forgiveness (or ‘remission’) of ‘guilt’, it was still possible for the required works of satisfaction – and the related ‘punishment’ – to remain. The bull and its publicity material might appear imprecise, but they do in fact use an established term for plenary indulgences.76.76. With reference to this text and traditions dating back to the 13th century, see Nikolaus Paulus, Johann Tetzel der Ablaßprediger, Mainz 1899, 97–98. The bull itself involves another pair of terms which have found their way into the vernacular summary by referring to indulgences and other benefits: ‘indulgentias et alias gratias’.77.77. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 215. The German summary uses the combination of ‘ablaß’ and ‘gnad’ frequently as a reference to the current papal offering.78.78. Cf. Summa, Avr, , A4v. It is not just the sermons of indulgence preachers, but also this very document which spread the word about the indulgence campaign among large numbers of people.
As a preacher, Luther began to deal with the topic of indulgences and recent developments related to them either in late 1516 or in early 1517.79.79. For a summary of earlier suggestions cf. WA 1, 94, note 1. A more recent appraisal has been offered by Leppin, Buße, 546–47, note 116. The first relevant text survives within a sequence of sermons delivered from 1514 to 1517 and is recorded in Latin.80.80. WA 1, 20–141, here: 94–99; for another version see WA 4, 670–74. For useful summaries and references: Erwin Iserloh, Luther zwischen Reform und Reformation. Der Thesenanschlag fand nicht statt, Münster 31966 (Katholisches Leben und Kämpfen im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung 23/24), 31–35. The language has been interpreted as indicating that the sermon was intended for publication;81.81. Cf. Karl Knaake in WA 1, 19. it has been argued, too, that the text might not be from the municipal church in which Luther preached, but from the chapel of the Augustinian monastery.82.82. Theodor Brieger, Kritische Erörterung zur neuen Luther-Ausgabe, in: Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 11 (1890), 100–54, here: 122. In any case, the sermon proposes that man is saved by divine grace alone and it firmly opposes indulgence teaching that undermines this fundamental understanding.83.83. WA 1, 98–99. While the pope’s motives might be ‘right and true’, Luther identifies the culprits as the preachers who act as ‘seducers’ and ‘storytellers’.84.84. WA 1, 98. In general, Luther summarizes penance as theologically consisting of three parts: a person’s heartfelt regret (lat. contritio cordis), the act of confession (confessio oris), and satisfaction (traditionally based on works: satisfactio operis).85.85. Cf. the respective allusions in WA 1, 98–99. See also the note to thesis 12 of the 95 Theses, p. 35. Even in this early sermon, Luther emphasised that all of these aspects are vital, but must be understood and applied internally, spiritually.86.86. Esp. WA 1, 99.
In short, this sermon already provides the backbone of the 95 Theses and the Sermon on Indulgences and Grace. Both texts start off with the established theological understanding of penance.87.87. For a useful brief summary of the contemporary diversity of positions and arguments – including those of Thomas Aquinas and Petrus Lombardus – see Leppin, Buße, 526–34. A good translation of Lombard’s relevant passages is available: Peter Lombard, The Sentences. Book 4: On the Doctrine of Signs. Translated by Giulio Silano, Toronto 2010 (Medieval Sources in Translation 48), 69–135. For the tripartite structure referred to by Luther see Lombard, Sentences, 88. The Sermon names the three related components in its first point, while readers of the disputation have to combine theses 2 and 12 (or later 30, 35, 39–40, and 87) in order to identify and connect the relevant terms on the basis of their previous knowledge. Both texts proceed to deal with further scholastic statements on theoretical or practical aspects. More or less implicitly, Luther relates these to their appropriate authorities: the bible, early church teachings, canon law and scholastic school traditions, reason, and every so often concludes that they derive from mere imagination. It is clear that Luther advocates a revision of later developments relating to indulgences on the basis of biblical authority.
Ill. 3: The 95 Theses in pamphlet format, [Basel: Adam Petri] 1517, A1vUB Basel KiAr J VI 30:1 (http://doi.org/10.3931/e-rara-273)
The 95 Theses start off with a biblical understanding of penance, while the Sermon on Indulgences and Grace, as a popular piece of writing, opens with a definition of terms. One of the great advantages of the Sermon over the 95 Theses is its clear structure. Its title presents two terms, which correspond to two sections into which the twenty points are organized (see the black border in the table below). The word ‘grace’ appears once only in the text (in point 13), but it is highlighted by the title and is present in the line of argument. The combination of terms provides a striking response to the vernacular summary of the papal bull.88.88. See note 78. At the same time, the formal structure of the Sermon corresponds to the Latin and German Summa in its length and division into around twenty points. Since the German Summa must, as things stand, be considered the most popular printed text in the campaign, the even more popular Sermon might be considered an answer to the promotional publicity of the bull’s summaries.89.89. Ulrich Bubenheimer, Reliquienfest und Ablass in Halle. Albrecht von Brandenburgs Werbemedien und die Gegenschriften Karlstadts und Luthers, in: Stefan Oehmig (ed.), Buchdruck und Buchkultur im Wittenberg der Reformationszeit, Leipzig 2015 (Schriften der Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten 21), 71–100, reconstructed in great detail Luther’s and Karlstadt’s reactions to Albrecht of Mainz’s offers of indulgences in Halle between 1520 and 1522. He classifies the Archbishop’s prior publications as ‘promotional advertisements’ (‘Werbung’), 81–82, 90. Bubenheimer’s analysis reinforces the interpretation given above. While Luther’s Sermon adheres in important aspects of its format and content to the most widely distributed printed tracts of the campaign, his own classification of it as a Sermon gives it a spiritual and pastoral framework.
A summary of its contents (below) illustrates its structure and highlights how Luther introduces particular elements of scholastic teaching traditions, questions their authority, and compares them with what he understands the corresponding biblical foundation to be. The first column lists the paragraph of the Sermon followed by the topics, the theological doctrines in the scholastic tradition, the authorities according to Luther, and finally Luther’s own position. The shaded area accentuates the Sermon’s positive message and Luther’s advice.
|§||Topics||Scholastic tradition||Authorities||Luther’s position|
|1.||Penitence||Comprises (1) Contrition(2) Confession(3) Satisfaction||Unscriptural, unpatristic|
|2.||Indulgence||Requires 1 and 2, refers to 3|
|3.||Satisfaction||Combines acts of a) Prayerb) Fastingc) Almsgiving|
|4.||Indulgence and satisfaction||Indulgences partially reduce the works imposed|
|5. – 6.||Indulgence and ‘punishment’||Controversial whether indulgences reduce divine ‘punishment’||Unscriptural ‘opinion’ (6)||Biblical: contrition and works come from genuine motivation (6)|
|7. – 8.||Biblical: divinely imposed ‘punishment’ leads to contrition (7) and is only partially understood by man (8)|
|9.||Specification of divine punishments||Fictional ‘prattle’||Divinely imposed ‘punishment’ is beneficial for man|
|10.||The total amount of (temporal) punishment might exceed an individual’s lifetime||‘empty words’ and ‘fabrication’||Biblical: God and the ‘holy church’ are moderate|
|11.||Canon law once related mortal sins to seven years of penance||Christians have to be moderate|
|12.||Sins without satisfaction during one’s lifetime lead to purgatory (or demand indulgence)||‘without foundation and proof’|
|13.||Grace||Satisfaction is necessary for the forgiveness of sins||‘error’||God’s forgiveness is free and expects only personal progress|
|14. – 16.||Good works||Indulgences encourage human idleness (14). Good works have to be done ‘for God’s sake’ (15); they should first help the needy nearby, then the local church, and only as a last resort the church in Rome or elsewhere|
|17. – 20.||Summary||Indulgences rescue souls from purgatory (18)||‘impossible to prove’, ‘opinions’, undecided by the church (18)||Suggested strategies include: don’t purchase indulgences (16); don’t hinder indulgence sales (17); encourage personal ‘punishment’, charitable deeds, and prayers for others (18). This advice is biblical (19), steeped in Christian tradition, and not heretical (20).|
When we compare the 95 Theses with the Sermon von Ablass und Gnade,90.90. WA 1, 239–46. Martin Luther, Deutsch-Deutsche Studienausgabe, 1: Glaube und Leben, ed. by Dietrich Korsch, Leipzig 2012, 1–11 (translated by Johannes Schilling). For the English translation see below, pp. 1–31. it is clear that they differ in their target readership, their publicity, their intertextual references and, of course, their specific aims. The Sermon was conceived above all as a popular piece of writing.91.91. This is explained primarily given its status as a ‘new form of theological writing’ by Andrew Pettegree, The Reformation as a Media Event, in: Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 108 (2017), 126–33, here: 126. In fact, it is Luther’s first vernacular publication with mass appeal. The initial editions were produced by Johann Rhau-Grunenberg in Wittenberg, who came out with at least four of them in 1518.92.92. For the editions identified and mentioned here, see Benzing/Claus, Lutherbibliographie 1, 16–19, nos 90–114; 2, Baden-Baden 1994 (Bibliotheca bibliographica Aureliana 143), 28–30, nos 90–114. Recent summaries are provided by Johannes Schilling, Ein Sermon von Ablass und Gnade (1518) – Historische und theologische Aspekte, in: Irene Dingel and Henning P. Jürgens (eds), Meilensteine der Reformation. Schlüsseldokumente der frühen Wirksamkeit Martin Luthers, Gütersloh 2014, 108–12, here: 108–10, and Claudine Moulin, Ein Sermon von Ablass und Gnade (1518) – Materialität: Dynamik und Transformation, in: Dingel/Jürgens, Meilensteine, 113–19, here: 113–14. See also the print history of the Taylorian copies in this edition, pp. xxxix–lii. In the same year, printing houses in Leipzig, Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Basel followed suit. Within less than one year, at least 14 editions had appeared. Public demand continued in 1519 and 1520 with at least another nine editions from Wittenberg, Leipzig, Augsburg, Basel, and Breslau. A version in Low German was published in Braunschweig in 1518.93.93. Suggestions about who was responsible for the translation and print will be given by Ulrich Bubenheimer, Thomas Müntzer in seinem vor- und frühreformatorischen Umfeld in Braunschweig, in: Birgit Hoffmann and Dieter Rammler (eds), Themen – Akteure – Medien der Reformationszeit, Wolfenbüttel 2018 (Quellen und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Evangelisch-lutherischen Landeskirche in Braunschweig). Otto Clemen concluded that the public success of the Sermon killed off the 95 Theses.94.94. Otto Clemen (ed.), Luthers Werke in Auswahl. Unter Mitwirkung von Albert Lietzmann, 1, Bonn 1912, 10. More recently, it has been argued that the Sermon actually brought the theses to life.95.95. Schilling, Sermon, 108. Indeed, some of the contents of the theses were moved into the more popular format of the Sermon. Still, Luther’s own intention was to stop further circulation of his theses without explanatory comments. His Resolutiones were an academic step in this direction, the Sermon a popular one. On 5 March 1518 Luther announced to Scheurl in Nuremberg that he hoped to publish a ‘vernacular booklet on indulgences, in order to suppress those theses which have spread so widely’.96.96. WA.Br 1, 152. This reference is important in determining the terminus post quem for our Sermon. Older scholarship dated the compilation of the Sermon to the previous year and saw in the remark to Scheurl another publication project that remained unrealized.97.97. Cf. Karl Knaake in WA 1, 239. Knaake’s suggestion was strongly criticised by contemporary scholars soon after the WA’s publication. The best discussion of the relevant primary sources is still Brieger, Erörterung, 112–25. However, two other letters clearly refer to the Sermon. In one, Luther reports to Spalatin on the topic of indulgences that the Bishop of Brandenburg ‘strongly’ opposed the publication, printing, and sale ‘of a popular sermon’.98.98. WA.Br 1, 162. The document is undated and has been placed partially by conjecture,99.99. WA.Br 1, 161. Following this Clemen, Werke, 10. partially with good reason100.100. Brieger, Erörterung, 124–25, note 3. at least a fortnight after Luther’s message to Scheurl. The second relevant letter marks the terminus ante quem for the Sermon. On 8 May 1518 Luther writes to his teacher Jodokus Trutfetter in Erfurt that he assumes he would not like the ‘popular sermon’ he has produced.101.101. WA.Br 1, 170. The timeframe from the first week of March to the first week of May is narrowed down even further when we look at the Sermon itself. Several points relate to a publication102.102. For Nikolaus Paulus references to this cf. Clemen, Werke, 10. In more detail see Brieger, Erörterung, 121–22. that had arrived in Wittenberg by the middle of March.103.103. Cf. Brieger, Erörterung, 121–22, and Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 314. Point 9 of the Sermon rejects a terminological distinction that had been discussed in a series of disputation theses at Frankfurt an der Oder.104.104. See the note to the translation of §9 in this edition, p. 15. The relevant passages can be found in Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 331, no. 49. The context is explained by Martin Ohst, Pflichtbeichte. Untersuchungen zum Bußwesen im Hohen und Späten Mittelalter, Tübingen 1995 (Beiträge zur historischen Theologie 89), 77, note 106. These were a response to Luther’s 95 Theses; the actual disputation involved Johannes Tetzel, who was employed by Albrecht of Mainz in his indulgence campaign.105.105. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 310–11. On Tetzel see recently Kühne/ Bünz/Wiegand, Tetzel. That disputation also raises the question as to who might have to be considered a ‘heretic’,106.106. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 326, no. 21. before quoting from Luther’s theses at great length. The Sermon’s final point refers to this (‘I may well be branded a heretic by people’). Some of Luther’s letters and one other sermon suggest that printed versions of the relevant disputation theses became available in Wittenberg between 17 and 19 March 1518.107.107. See note 104. After prints had become locally available, students burned them. Luther publicly opposed this action in his sermon on the 19 March 1518, WA 1, 277 (the sermon from the 17 March 1518, WA 1, 267–73, bears no reference). In his letters the incident is mentioned to Johannes Lang in Erfurt on 21 March, WA.Br 1, 155, and to Trutfetter WA.Br 1, 170–71. This, together with Luther’s absence from Wittenberg for his journey to Heidelberg from mid-April108.108. WA.Br. 1, 166. to mid-May,109.109. WA.Br. 1, 173. means that the Sermon has to be dated between mid-March and mid-April 1518.110.110. The 17 March 1518 accordingly marks the terminus post quem, and not the ‘terminus ante quem für die abfassung des sermons’ as Clemen, Werke, 11, had it. Bearing in mind, further, the fact that Tetzel reports in his next publication, the Vorlegung, that Luther’s Sermon was published ‘yn der fasten iungst’,111.111. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 340. which lasted from the 17 February to 3 April,112.112. Brieger, Erörterung, 125, note 1. one has to conclude the Sermon was completed and published in the second half of March 1518.
To summarize the relationship between the Sermon and the 95 Theses, one might describe them as contrasting and complementary. They differ in their mix of scholarly and popular elements, but each offers a combination of both. While the Sermon introduces academic distinctions only to refute them, the 95 Theses present popular criticism of indulgence theory and practice to learned and ecclesiastically aware readers.113.113. Reaffirming Winterhager (see note 49) this was emphasised by Thomas Kaufmann, Luthers 95 Thesen in ihrem historischen Zusammenhang, in: Thomas Kaufmann, Der Anfang der Reformation, Tübingen 2012 (Spätmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation 67), 166–84, here: 169–70. The 95 Theses finish off with a sequence of popular concerns and complaints (theses 81–89, along with the concluding thesis 90). Another clearly defined sequence (theses 42–51) deals with what should be taught to Christians (including the laity). The Sermon has a corresponding section (points 15–17) which includes specific pieces of advice. Both texts are based on the assumption that church doctrine on indulgences has not been finalised: the 95 Theses form part of an exchange on the topic that might be described – socially and structurally – as top-down, while the Sermon’s contribution is bottom-up. Another text that Luther sent to Albrecht of Mainz along with his letter and the 95 Theses should be mentioned in this context. This is a Tractatus de Indulgentiis,114.114. WA.Br 12, 5–10 with useful introductory remarks WA.Br 12, 2–5. For good summaries see Iserloh, Thesenanschlag, 35–40, and Leppin, Buße, 556–60. a work which might include excerpts from earlier sermons edited and expanded for an academic audience. The text is interesting, since it contains a statement by Luther of at least one of the arguments attributed to the laity in the 95 Theses.115.115. Cf. thesis 82 with WA.Br 12, 6: Alioquin crudelis est Papa, si hoc miseris animabus non concedit gratis, quod potest pro pecunia missa ad ecclesiam concedere (‘Or else the pope is being cruel if he does not grant to wretched souls for free what he can grant for money contributed to the church’). Tetzel’s name does not appear in any of the texts by Luther we have mentioned, although some passages in them refute statements attributed to Tetzel.116.116. See notes 104–106 above and the notes to §9 of the Sermon and to thesis 75 of the 95 Theses in the present edition. The 95 Theses and the accompanying letter to Albrecht of Mainz go beyond the main public protagonists and engage at a senior level with the organisation of the current indulgence campaign by referring directly to instructions in the contents of an official document provided for personnel involved in the campaign.117.117. Cf. the notes to theses 20, 28, 33, 35, 37, 53, 67, 73, 84, and 88 in the present edition. The text is introduced and edited by Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 246–93. For translated parts see Hillerbrand, Reformation, 14–18. This Instructio summaria ad Subcommissarios, Penetentiarios et Confessores, used by Albrecht of Mainz, is a follow-up to related documents of earlier campaigns and was printed by Melchior Lotter in Leipzig.118.118. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 254. The best way to study the references in the 95 Theses alluding to the Instructio summaria is to consult the edition of Silvester Prierias’ reaction to Luther, which quotes widely from the theses: Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 56–106. For the latest corrections to the earlier Instructiones confessorum, which were used in both Mainz and Magdeburg, see Bubenheimer, Petersablass, 267–71. By alluding to the text of the Instructio summaria, Luther challenges a scholarly public to make a judgement on the legitimacy of Albrecht’s campaign and demands that the Archbishop either withdraw the campaign or correct the contents of the document.119.119. WA.Br 1, 112; for a partial translation see Hillerbrand, Reformation, 26–27. One might wonder whether this expectation was realistic or proportionate. Bearing in mind the territorial opposition to the campaigns and increasing popular criticism of indulgences (of which church representatives were aware), one might have expected a variety of reactions in the episcopacy at the time. Indeed, an early document from November 1517 suggests that Adolf of Anhalt, Bishop of Merseburg, on behalf of his territorial Duke, George of Saxony, publicly supported Luther’s positions.120.120. Kaufmann, Thesen, 173 with note 37. Winterhager, Verkündigung, 591, identifies political interests behind the bishop’s actions and announces further publications on it.
As for the wider historical repercussions of the events set out above, the 95 Theses reached Rome via at least three channels: Albrecht of Mainz together with his advisors, the Dominican Order around Tetzel,121.121. For a summary cf. Fabisch/Iserloh, Dokumente, 31. and eventually Eck. To some extent this outcome is in keeping with Luther’s aim of instigating a debate which would have practical relevance. The 95 Theses and, more precisely, the way in which they were publicized, urged clarification on fundamental and topical questions. Within the course of one year they succeeded: on 9 November 1518 a papal bull summarized and reinforced a number of the teachings Luther had questioned.122.122. Denzinger/Hünermann, Kompendium, 452–53, no. 1447–49. By this time, of course, the debate had moved on. The Sermon on Indulgences and Grace was a major popular factor in this. Today it allows readers to gain a sense of the very text from which numerous contemporary readers formed their first impressions of Luther. By progressing from the Sermon to the 95 Theses we gain an awareness of some of the implications which developed from it, including on papal power, biblical authority, and the participation of the laity. At the same time, the Sermon can be used as a starting-point to read some of Luther’s other early printed sermons, which deal with a variety of subjects that were of immense practical relevance to Christians five centuries ago.123.123. Examples from the following years include: Ein Sermon vom Sakrament der Buße (1519); Ein Sermon von dem hochwürdigen Sakrament des heiligen wahren Leichnams Christi und von den Bruderschaften (1519); Ein Sermon von der Bereitung zum Sterben (1519); Ein Sermon von dem heiligen hochwürdigen Sakrament der Taufe (1519); Sermon von dem Wucher (1519); Ein Sermon von dem Neuen Testament, das ist von der heiligen Messe (1520). For a comprehensive list see Kurt Aland, Hilfsbuch zum Lutherstudium, Bielefeld 41996, 160–61.
2. The Taylorian Copies
The Sermon on Indulgences and Grace was the first big publicity coup for Martin Luther. Printers in Leipzig, Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Basel followed, in quick succession, the lead publication in Wittenberg. There are at least seven copies of the Sermon in Oxford, five as part of the 84 multi-item collection of ‘Tractatus Lutherani’ (Tr.Luth.),124.124. Most of the Tr.Luth. pamphlets were bought by the Bodleian Library in 1818 from the collection of the Augsburg Professor Johannes Gottlob May who arranged them in roughly chronological order. All Reformation pamphlets in Oxford are included in Michael A. Pegg, A Catalogue of German Reformation Pamphlets (1516–1546) in Libraries of Great Britain and Ireland, Baden-Baden 1973. The Sermon copies are listed on p. 193. two in the Taylor Institution Library.125.125. Benzing / Claus, Lutherbibliographie, nos 90–103. For the online version of the Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Drucke use http://gateway-bayern.de/VD16+L+ followed by the four-digit VD16 number, e.g. 6268 for the Basel print in the Taylorian and 6270 for the Leipzig print. Looking through the hastily printed, well-thumbed, often annotated, and widely travelled pamphlets, the excitement of this explosive time in print production comes to life. The following chapter tells the story of the materiality of the Sermon from production to acquisition through a study of the two Taylorian copies.126.126. On the topicality of the debate about materiality cf. the two new series Kulturen des Sammelns ed. by the HAB Wolfenbüttel and New Directions in Book History http://www.springer.com/series/14749.
The two Taylorian copies, one produced by Pamphilus Gengenbach in Basel and one by Valentin Schumann in Leipzig, reflect the momentum of Reformation printing in different ways. The Sermon was an ideal test case for the new format: it required only six pages of text, which meant that it could be fitted onto one quire in quarto format with space for a title page and a colophon. Both printers decided to concentrate on the text and to give neither the place of publication nor their own name, but the typeface and the woodcut decoration make it possible to attribute both editions with reasonable certainty. The two printers developed this basic format in different ways.
Pamphilus Gengenbach: Popular Printing
Martin Luther, Sermon von Ablass und Gnade [Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach 1518]Title: (E)Jn Sermon oder Predig || von dem ablasz vnd gnade || durch den wirdigen docto=||rem Martinum Luther Augu||stiner zu wittenbergk ge=||macht vnd gepre||diget.|| + ||Impressum: Getruckt nach Christ geburt Tausent || fünffhundert vnd ym achtzehēdē Jar.||4° A4 Quire signatures Aij, Aiij. Types: A 2, T 2D. Cross, Taylor Institution Library, Arch. 8° G. 1518 (5)Woodcuts: letter E and Z, floral borders, man approaching a church, deposition from the crossWA 1, 241, no. M; Benzing/Claus no. 102; VD16 L 6268
Basel was home to Humanist printing at the highest level and established itself as one of the foremost centres of Reformation printing: Erasmus had worked with the printer Froben on his New Testament which was published in Basel in 1516, and it was one of the places where the 95 Theses were printed in 1517.127.127. https://magdlibs.com/2015/02/04/erasmus-froben-and-holbein/ consulted 18 March 2018. But the Sermon, the first German Lutheran print to be published there,128.128. Kerstin Prietzel, Pamphilus Gengenbach, Drucker zu Basel (um 1480–1525), in: Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, vol. 52 (1999), 229–461, here 336. comes from a popular press rather than one of the learned houses. The printer was Pamphilus Gengenbach, a proponent of the Reformation from the very beginning, and an established printer-author, writing Shrovetide plays and poems, and publishing popular literature as well as topical Latin texts.
Gengenbach had already exploited the indulgence debate for popular, indeed humorous, effect. Around 1513, he wrote a satirical poem about durre ritter (poor knights who supplement their income by robbery) which he published himself as a broadside (single-leaf print) masquerading as a letter of indulgence. This promises those who support the knights that they will get as much remission for their sins as if they had put the money in the collecting tin in front of Basel Minster (wer jn git zerung vber nacht / sie vnd ire pferd wol entpfacht/ Der soll den ablossz han/ als hett ers jnn die kist geton / Die zu Basell vor dem munster stat/ den ablosz das concilia bestetiget hat) and confirms that these poor knights will all go straight to heaven.129.129. Prietzel, Gengenbach, no. 5. Digital copy at https://www.e-rara.ch/doi/10.3931/e-rara-2017 (consulted 18 March 2018). On the biography of Gengenbach, cf. Christoph Reske, Die Buchdrucker des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts im deutschen Sprachgebiet. Auf der Grundlage des gleichnamigen Werkes von Josef Benzing. 2nd revised and enlarged edition, Wiesbaden 2015 (Beiträge zum Buch- und Bibliothekswesen, 51), p. 71.
Ill. 4: Bodleian Library, Tr. Luth. 1 (18), Gengenbach did sign some of the texts he published, e.g. Luther’s Apologetica responsio contra dogmata which he published in the same year as the Sermon.130.130. Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach 1518, Prietzel, Gengenbach, Nr. 43; VD16 W 3070 used in the Bodleian Library copy, Tr. Luth. 1 (18). Digital copy at http://doi.org/10.3931/e-rara-261 (consulted 18 March 2018). There he signs with the programmatic Latin statement that it is DEDICATED TO TRUTH at Basel by Pamphilus Gengenbach in August 1518 (ill. 4).
By contrast, he keeps the Sermon unsigned, preferring to highlight on the title-page, in large blackletter font, the celebrity author, the wirdige doctor Martinus Luther Augustiner, and the place where the Sermon was originally composed and preached: zu wittenbergk gemacht vnd geprediget (ill. 5). This title-page is a hotchpotch of catchy words, decorative elements, and clues to the text’s religious content.
Ill. 5: Taylorian, Arch. 8°G.1518(5) Ill. 6: Bodleian Library, Tr. Luth. 1 (18)
Other publications from the same year are surrounded by four woodcut borders which neatly frame the title; for example, for the Apologetica responsio (ill. 6) he used two of four blocks depicting cunning women (above: Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair; below: Phyllis riding Aristotle) and two decorative side borders which come from a different set but are at least of exactly the right length.
Ill. 7: UB Basel, UBH FM1 IX 18, A2v (e-rara)
By contrast, Gengenbach’s print of the Sermon features two decorative floral border elements which seem to have been cut down from woodcuts, since they only extend halfway up the page. They look very similar to the decorative borders used around the same time by Gengenbach for his print of a verse legend; these were obviously leftovers from a page-sized woodcut framed by floral borders and Swiss coats of arms (ill. 7).131.131. Kunz Kistener, Ein hübsch lesen und grosz wunderzeichen von dem heiligen zwölffbotten sant Jacob und zweien Jacobs brüdern, VD16 K 2571. For the Sermon they might have been further cut down to avoid the local element of the coat of arms and preserve the anonymity of the print.
Ill. 8: Bodleian Library, Tr. Luth. 1 (18), A1v
To compensate for the fact that the borders went only halfway up, a woodcut initial ‘E’ from a Roman typeface is used as the first letter of the title, sitting incongruously with the black letter font of the following text, which itself runs on in the same size rather than having a smaller font size for the subtitle. This ‘E’, whose middle stroke is used by a putto as mouthpiece for drinking or possibly blowing a trumpet, can be seen in its proper place as part of a Latin text-block in the Apologetica responsio on A1v where it opens the sentence En tibi arbitrium meum (ill. 8). Another letter of the same Roman alphabet is used for the initial ‘Z’ of the first paragraph of the Sermon (A1v).
Ill. 9: Taylorian, Arch. 8°G.1518(5), Ill. 10: Bodleian Library, Tr. Luth. 1 (18), A1v, cf. facsimile F4 A1v
The small woodcut in the middle of the bottom half of the page shows a man with rosary in hand heading towards a chapel – an example of ‘handwerklicher Durchschnittsstil’132.132. Hans Koegler, Die illustrierten Erbauungsbücher, Heiligenlegenden und geistlichen Auslegungen im Basler Buchdruck der ersten Hälfte des XVI. Jahrhunderts: mit Ausschluss der Postillen, Passionate, Evangelienbücher und Bibeln (Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 39), 1940, 53–157, here 145, E. 12. and also of the conventional piety of set prayers and church attendance which sits slightly at odds with the fiery tone of the Sermon. This is complemented on the reverse by a large woodcut of the deposition from the cross (A4v, cf. facsimile F16).133.133. Koegler, Erbauungsbücher, 126. It concentrates on the grief of Mary who is the middle of the composition flanked by John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene and surrounded by further elements of the passion such as the crown of thorns in the bottom right-hand corner, dramatically highlighted by being in white cut out of the black background. This is a popular late medieval devotional image par excellence, inviting devout readers to encounter the passion personally through the compassion of Mary. Even though no direct model has been identified (nor any other print where it is used), it must have been a recycled piece used previously for other devotional purposes. Koegler lists it in his appendix among ‘vereinzelten Basler Bücherholzschnitte erbaulichen oder hagiographischen Inhalts zwischen 1500 und 1550’; they tend to be in folio format, designed to be glued on wood and hung on the wall. The combination of the man with the rosary heading for church on the title and the composition which focuses on the passion of Christ and the suffering of Mary, show how Pamphilus Gengenbach read the Sermon – or at least how he thought he could market it best: not as a piece of polemical writing, still less as part of an academic debate, but as a devotional text that encouraged readers to start their quest for the remission of sins by looking at their own piety rather than by acquiring it through money. In a way, the broadside becomes an alternative to buying indulgences: a self-help pamphlet rather than a time-off voucher for purgatory.
As an established printer with experience in the market for vernacular texts, Pamphilus Gengenbach could respond quickly to changing trends. The Sermon was printed as a so-called ‘Zwitterdruck’ or hybrid edition: when Gengenbach had finished printing one side of the sheet (title, last page, A2v and A3r), he must have realised that he was on to a good thing and could sell more copies. The reverse of the broadsheet (A1v–A2r and A3v–)134.134. Cf. ‘Fold your own pamphlet’ on the Taylorian blog: A1r, A2v, A3r, A4v. was therefore printed in a larger print run than the front side; the front page then needed to be re-typeset to complete the extra copies since the standing type had been disassembled after a set number of impressions. This means that the reverse of the broadside is identical, the front only nearly identical – thanks to the digitised editions linked to the VD16, it is possible to play ‘Spot the difference’.135.135. VD16 L 6268 lists six copies; the corrections in vol. 2 of Benzing/Claus (1994), no. 102 six further copies, including the Taylorian, based on Prietzel, Pamphilus Gengenbach, no. 39, 277 (who also gives shelfmarks for all copies). VD 16 L 6267 lists three copies; Benzing/Claus no. 101 two further copies, based on Prietzel, Pamphilus Gengenbach, no. 40. She thinks that the batch including the Taylorian copy was the first batch to be printed, while the WA 1 lists it as the second batch. The additional quire signature Aij in the VD16 L 6268 edition seems to support this sequence of printing.
The Taylorian copy features different line breaks on A2v and A3r and one hyphen fewer in the title than the copies from the other batch. In addition, on the otherwise identical reverse, the quire signature Aij shows up. The whole print run must have been issued before 4 September 1518, since Capito mentions the Basel print as known in a letter to Luther.136.136. WA.Br 1, no. 91, 198. In October 1518, a Latin translation based on one of the Gengenbach editions was included in the first Complete Works of Luther, published by Froben together with the Latin Sermo de poenitentia which Gengenbach had published more or less simultaneously with the Sermon in 1518.137.137. There is a copy in Oxford in the Bodleian Library, Tr.Luth. 86 (7).
Gengenbach’s edition thus shows us how an astute printer-author adapted quickly in the developing religious debate to a newly emerging audience of avid readers in the vernacular.
Valentin Schumann: An Annotated Copy
Martin Luther, Sermon von Ablass und Gnade [Leipzig: Valentin Schumann 1518]Eyn Sermon || von dem Ablaß vnnd || gnade durch den || wirdigen̄ doctorn̄ Mar||tinū Luther Augus||tiner zu Wittē||bergk ge=|| macht.||Impressum: Getruckt Nach Christ geburt Tausent||funffhundert vn̄ ym achczehenden Jar.|| fol. Quire signatures Aij, Aiij. Taylor Institution Library, Arch. 8° G. 1518 (6); Woodcut borders; marginalia from several hands.WA 1, 241, no. F; Benzing/Claus no. 96;138.138. VD16 lists copies in Erfurt, MinB; Frankfurt/Main, Bibliothek der Philosophisch-Theologischen Hochschule St. Georgen; SUB Göttingen; UB Heidelberg; UB Leipzig; UB Würzburg; Wittenberg, Evangelisches Predigerseminar; HAB Wolfenbüttel; Benzing/Claus no. 96 further copies in Cambridge TrinityC and Kopenhagen KglB but not the Taylorian copy. Reske, Buchdrucker, 559 (Schumann); VD16 L 6270
Ill. 12: Bodleian Library, Tr.Luth. 1 (18),
Leipzig had several printers sharing fonts and taking up the same texts in quick succession. Valentin Schumann and Wolfgang Stöckel between them printed four editions of the Sermon in 1518. Stöckel and a third printer, Melchior Lotter the Elder, then reissued them in 1519 and even 1520. Only one of these editions bears the name of a printer, the 1519 edition by Stöckel which features a large coat of arms and a full credit to printer, time, and place (ill. 11). By then it had already become a piece of history – this can be seen on the title page of the Bodleian copy (Tr.Luth. 86 (19)) which had the year erased, presumably to date the Sermon back to the time of the first publication in 1518. Another contemporary hand has in turn rubbed out the fake date and reinstated the ‘19’ in the year (ill. 12).
In the course of a year, the debate had galloped on and the Leipzig printers were crucial in this: Melchior Lotter produced the only edition of Tetzel’s German answer to the Sermon, a ‘Rebuttal’ made by Tetzel as the Order of Preachers’ inquisitor of heretics ‘against a presumptuous sermon of twenty erroneous articles concerning papal indulgences and grace’ (Vorlegung … wyder eynen vormessen Sermon von tzwentzig irrigen Artickeln Bebstlichen ablas vnd gnade belangende).139.139. VD16 L 6269. English translation and introduction by Dewey Weiss Kramer, An Occasional Publication of the Pitts Theology Library, Atlanta 2012 online via http://pitts.emory.edu/files/Documents/Tetzel.pdf. This constitutes in fact another publication of the Sermon in Leipzig in 1518, since Tetzel quotes each of Luther’s articles in full before marking it as wrong and dangerous. It runs to four quires in the same format as Luther’s Sermon, i.e. four times the length. Luther countered this in his follow-up publication ‘A vindication of the sermon concerning the Pope’s indulgences and grace’ (Ein Freiheit des Sermons päpstlichen Ablass und Gnad belangend), this time running to two quires and numerous editions, even if it didn’t prove quite as popular as the first pithy publication in the debate.
Because of the identical font and anonymous publication of most of the pamphlets, it is hard to determine which printer published which edition, but taking the dated and signed Stöckel edition as a starting point, it seems likely that three of the 1518 editions were also printed by him, while the fourth, of which the Taylorian copy is an example, was printed by Valentin Schumann. This in turn points to Schumann as publisher of the edition VD16 L5451 in the Leipzig signature type, a copy of which is in the Taylorian, Arch.8°G.1523 (43/2), since it shares a border element with the Schumann print of the Sermon (cf. ill. 2). The watermark (bull’s head with eyes, nostrils, and double-contoured staff with six-petalled flower above), though in itself hardly distinctive, is also clearly identical in both pamphlets.
But what makes the Taylorian copy special is not so much that it has the decorative border which Valentin Schumann provided and which – other than in the Basel edition discussed previously – fits like a glove around the well spaced and elegantly laid out title page. Rather it is the evidence of a close engagement with the text by more than one reader from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. There are annotations in at least three different hands, marking up the text and providing copious marginalia on the title page and the empty end-paper. As is often the case, once a first reader had started making comments, others followed suit. The first layer of comments seems intended to highlight portions of text by underlining and marking them up in the margins. Reader one used brownish ink simply to mark up the structure, underlining all numbers and then key words to bring out the main lines of the argument. An example is §2 (A1v) where Czum andern,nycht,das ist, andsundern are underlined; applied to the English translation this would run: ‘§2. They say that indulgences do not cancel the first or second parts, that is, contrition or confession, but the third, namely satisfaction.’ This would have also have helped when the text was read out loud (cf. ‘How to Read the Sermon’).
The same hand also marks particularly pertinent paragraphs by bracketing them in the margin and twice placing an additional capital ‘N’ for nota – pay attention! – next to it. This concerns §6 where ‘N’ is next to the passage in which Luther firmly states his conviction that Scripture does not prove that divine righteousness desires punishment and instead argues for heartfelt contrition. In §13 ‘N’ relates to the mistaken belief that man could make good his sins given that God forgives everything for free through grace. The ‘unscheczliche gnad’ is underlined in darker ink – by either a second reader or the first annotator returning to the passage at a later stage. This dark ink is also used to highlight the powerful address to the reader at the end of §16: let lazy Christians buy indulgences, and follow your own path.
This is very much in line with what happened to other Reformation pamphlets where reader engagement tended to start with basic annotations of the text. Pen trials also seem to belong to this early phase since they were cut when the pamphlet was bound into a collective volume to preserve it as the glue strip on the title-page confirms; some show signs of the accidental rubbing and grime consistent with the fold across the middle which suggests that the pamphlet was carried around and repeatedly consulted before being eventually shelved. Aside from squiggles and several stabs at writing a Latin phrase starting with memini, this early hand writes domine non sum d[ignus] (‘Lord, I am not worthy [to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed]’) from the mass – an appropriate response not only to the offer of bread and wine at the Eucharist but also to the offer of salvation through grace which the Sermon promises.
The bulk of the marginalia ‑ long lists of proverbs which were added on the title page, the spare space on A4r, and the lower part of A4v ‑ appear to be have been added in the seventeenth century by the owner who records that the volume came to him from Husum on 26 July 1603 with the remark that this happened ‘after salvation had been reestablished’, an emphatic form of writing ‘Anno domini’ with possible overtones of the Reformation as part of salvation history: Liber Johannes KLincheri F. ex Donatione Jonas Folquardi, Ciuis Husenses. Anno restauratae salutis 1603 postridie D. Jacobi.
The proverbs are in both German and Latin. The text on A4r, code-switching between Latin and German, starts in the middle of a sentence, arguing that God will come to the rescue: Sed Violenter oppressus, iniuriæ poculum bibe. || Violenter opprimor, Sed ille dixit mihi, & etiam faciet || Quia nomen eius I.N.R.I. || Oderunt me gratis. || Tantum propter Veritatem || Veritas odium parit. Sed || Deus adhuc Iudex in terra est. || Quaerat hic deus, Videat & iudicat. || In monte Videbit Deus. || Tandem bona Causa triumphat. || Deus Viuens, Deus Videns. || Facit iudicium iniuriam patientibus. || Suo tempore liberat. || Got richt, wan nemandt sprichtt. Ergo, || Mein Hulff vnd Ratt, Trost, Zuuersichtt || Bistu allein Herr Jhesu Christ. This is continued on the right-hand side: Spes mea Christus. || Fons Vitae Christus. || Iudica Dominus nocen||tes me. Psal 34 || Justis es Domine. Et ius-||ta iudicia tua. || Ecce infirmor hic. The theme of God as judge and helper of the oppressed runs through the text, together with a firm trust in Christ: the letters ‘INRI’ stand out from the entry as does the underlined statement that ‘all of this is because of Truth’.
The empty last page shows a similar mix of languages and sources, with four Bible quotations on praying for release from oppression (Is 38: 14) and rejoicing in adversity (2 Cor 7: 13) and two short Psalm statements about God as judge (Ps 43: 22 and Ps 5: 11). The German rhyming couplets thrown in are taken from different dialect areas: before the quotation from Corinthians there is the assurance in High German that no evil man will last before God (Der Bösen Raeth wirt balde vorghan / Vor Got kein Böser mach besthann), while the Psalm statements are introduced with a Low German verse about longing to be somewhere else (Ick bin nicht, dar ik bin, || Dar ick nicht bin, dar is min sin). And in the middle of it all is a proverb that is also used by Martin Luther about suffering first, enjoying glory later: Priores passiones Posteriores glorias (WA 44, 199, 17).
These verses and proverbs are neither original texts nor direct quotations from trusted authorities, but rather ad hoc compilations of proverbs, quotations, and popular sentiment; they were just accumulated from memory in much the same way that Luther kept a notebook for sayings,140.140. Notebook Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Add. A. 92, cf. the blog post by Alexander Peplow from 28 October 2017 on teachingthecodex.com rather than being an extract from a collection such as the popular Adagia edited by Erasmus. How the same phrases can be clustered together in different ways is apparent on the title page where originally there were only two lines of text: a proverb which reinforces the notion of being made invisible by the powers that be (Inuisus modo immerito) and the German saying also found on A4r that God is judge even if there is nobody who is able to make a formal accusation: Got richt, wan niemand spricht.141.141. Wander, Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon 2, 42 s.v. Gott, no. 963. When Johannes Klinker added his ownership entry, he also underlined both statements and added to the first another line with the word ‘invisible’ which linked to the theme of oppression: Calcat jacentem Vulgus, inuisum opprimet, and repeated the statement which had been underlined on A4r that all this is about truth. Together with his emphasis that the date follows the Reformation, this reveals a strong Protestant identity nearly a century after the pamphlet was first printed and a continuing acknowledgement of the liberating power of the text.
There are three further names given on the title page: in the right-hand bottom corner Jacobus Laurentius is in a hand which seems to predate Klinker; in the top right-hand corner F. Mollers is in a somewhat later hand; clearly an even later entry is Petri 1719, written with a flourish next to the title. Though it proved impossible to identify any of the owners, a clear pattern of use emerges: this is a string of Protestant readers proud of Reformation heritage and eager to associate themselves with the text by adding their name and mark to it. In a way, this has remained the case until the 20th century, as the acquisition history below shows.
Taken together, the Oxford copies of the Sermon thus allow an insight into Reformation as a process: how the pamphlet war shaped the development of print production, how it defined standards for presenting vernacular theological texts, and how the appeal of short, powerful texts in the vernacular secured the success of the movement.
The two versions of Luther’s Sermon on Indulgences and Grace in the Taylor Institution reflect not only Reformation history, but also the physical history of the copies themselves. Both items show various additions which clearly mark them out as historical objects: ownership marks, stamps, and pencil notes which all inform our understanding of the development of the library as a teaching collection and the role of its Reformation pamphlets as teaching materials.
A Duplicate from Heidelberg: Arch. 8° G. 1518 (5)
For both pamphlets, the first trace of the Taylorian can be found on the upper pastedown. In the case of Arch. 8° G. 1518 (5), an early Ex libris of the Taylor Institution Library has been added (ill. 17). It features the coats of arms both of the University of Oxford and of Sir Robert Taylor, the eponymous founder of the Institution. Underneath, a date added in pencil points to the year when the pamphlet entered the library: ‘1878’. This edition of the Sermon von Ablass und Gnade was therefore part of the first major acquisition drive of the library, which had only opened its doors in 1849.142.142. John Macray, the Taylorian’s first librarian, had been in post from as early as 1847. The first books were purchased in 1848, one year before the library officially opened. Cf. Jill Hughes, Taylor Institution Library, in: Handbuch deutscher historischer Buchbestände in Europa. Vol. 10: A guide to the collections printed in German-speaking countries before 1901 (or in German elsewhere) held by libraries in Great Britain and Ireland, ed. by Graham Jefcoate, William A. Kelly and Karen Kloth. Hildesheim 2000, 309–18, here 310. In the early years of the Taylorian, roughly £250 a year was spent on new books while the bills for the newly constructed building still had to be paid. In 1874, however, Max Müller, deputy Taylorian Professor of Modern European Languages from 1850 and Oxford’s first Professor of Comparative Philology from 1860, persuaded the Curators to allocate an extra sum of £500 to allow the library to purchase items related to one of his main research areas, the history of language and literature. Müller’s successful request led to the acquisition of both incunables and Reformation pamphlets in the 1870s and 1880s.143.143. Cf. Hughes 2000, 310–11. The Basel edition of the Sermon was among these very first pamphlets that came to Oxford at Müller’s suggestion.
A search through the Taylorian’s archives reveals that Arch. 8° G. 1518 (5) arrived at the library on 2 December 1878 as one of 139 Lutheran pamphlets bought from London bookseller David Nutt for a total price of £25.144.144. David Nutt’s invoice from 29 November 1878 can be found in the Taylorian Archives. Cf. Oxford University Archives, TL 2/14/4: Vouchers received from suppliers for payments made, with some cleared cheques 1877–82. On the title, the number ‘25’ is still visible and could refer to this sum. It is, however, more likely that it corresponds to the number given to this pamphlet by Nutt. In his invoice (ill. 13), he lists 139 non-consecutive numbers as abbreviations for the 139 pamphlets sold. Arch. 8° G. 1530 (9), Luther’s Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen was likewise acquired from Nutt in 1878 and features the number ‘22’ on A1r. In his invoice, Nutt also states that all of these pamphlets were duplicates from Heidelberg University Library. Our pamphlet still shows a blue stamp on A1v (cf. facsimile F4) and A4r (F14) that reads DVPLVM BIBLIOTH. HEIDELBERG.
As soon as the pamphlet entered the library, a place for it had to be found. To identify its exact location(s), the upper pastedown again proves useful (ill. 17). It shows not only the current shelfmark Arch. 8° G. 1518 (5), but also two older ones, both crossed out: 92 b 16 and Arch II b 5.145.145. The earliest shelfmark, 92 b 16, is also visible on the bottom of A1r (facsimile F2), again written in pencil. This change in shelfmark indicates a change of location in the library. When the pamphlet first came to the Taylorian, it was put in the 92nd bookcase, which can still be found on the upper gallery in the main reading room. It was placed on the second shelf from the top, shelf ‘b’, and was the sixteenth volume along. In the 20th century, the pamphlet then became part of the ‘Arch’ – short for ‘Archives’ – collection and was moved from this open bookcase to the second of five antique church vestry cupboards which were also located in the upper gallery. Here, it was again placed on the second shelf (‘b’), fifth along. Nowadays, the pamphlet is even more safely stowed: like all ‘Arch’ material, it is kept in the Taylorian’s strongroom.
Ill. 13: Invoice for Reformation pamphlets from David Nutt 29 Nov 1878 and the Librarian’s note that the sums are correctOxford University Archives, TL 2/14/4
An Annotated Rarity: Arch. 8° G. 1518 (6)
The second copy of the Sermon von Ablass und Gnade came to the Taylorian nearly fifty years after the first. The Ex libris we find on the upper pastedown features a later coat of arms (cf. illustrations 17/18 of both Ex libris on p. lxxviii), and a stamp on A4v gives the exact date: 11 April 1927. On this day, the Taylorian’s cashbook lists a payment of £2.2s.0d (= £2.10) to London bookseller Myers.146.146. For Myers’ invoice cf. Oxford University Archives, TL 3/2/8: New additions to the library (1922–34). For this purchase, the library used money available via the Finch fund, a sum bequeathed to the Bodleian, Ashmolean, and Taylorian by Oxford-educated antiquarian Robert Finch (1783–1830) to share and spend on the acquisition of books.
Two months earlier, the library had already acquired three other pamphlets from Myers, each for a price of £1.10s.0d (= £1.50): Eyn vnterrichtunge, wie sich die Christen yn Mosen sollen schicken (Arch. 8° G. 1526 (8)), Ein Sermon Von dem Heubtman zu Capernaum, Matth. viij. (Arch. 8° G. 1535 (7)) and Ein einfeltige weise zu Beten, fur einen guten freund (Arch. 8° G. 1535 (2)).147.147. A snippet of Myers’ auction catalogue which lists all three pamphlets bought in February 1927 can still be found in Arch. 8° G. 1526 (8). It is clear that the library was increasingly willing and able to pay up for single pamphlets – even for a title already in its holdings. What arguably makes this particular copy of the Sermon von Ablass und Gnade special are the numerous annotations on the title and the last two pages which add a second historical layer (cf. above).
The fact that the library was aware of this double purchase is evident in the location of the pamphlets. The invalid shelfmark Arch II b 6 testifies to the fact that the second Sermon was placed right next to the first one: in the second church vestry cupboard in the upper gallery, on the second shelf, the sixth volume along.
3. How to Read the Sermon
A sermon is a piece of prose meant to be performed: read out loud, performed with gestures, drawing the audience in. This holds true even for the text published here, which is likely to be a shortened and recast version of the original spoken sermon. When we read out and recorded the Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen to go with the edition of that work in this series of Luther pamphlets, we were struck by how the rhetorical indicators in the text served as cues for performance and brought the text to life.
The following short guide is therefore meant to provide pointers to oral delivery, to allow readers to lift the text off the page and understand the different system of punctuation, spelling, and structuring used for its printed representation. This has since been added to – much of the underlining done by an early reader in the Leipzig copy may have been designed to facilitate delivery, e.g. in §9: Aber wir habenmehr freyheyt czuuorachten (got lob) sulchs vnnd des gleychen plauderey/ dan̄ sie haben czu ertichten / dann̄ allepeyn /ya alls was gott auff legt/ ist besserlich vnd tzu treglich den Christen.
Ill. 14: Taylorian, Arch. 8° G. 1518 (6), A1v
Punctuation Early modern editions use full stops, brackets, question marks, and virgules (‘/’) primarily to help users punctuate their speech rather than as grammatical markers. It is useful to think of the whole Sermon as a recitative and the punctuation as musical notation, as in the example above where the interjection ‘thank God’ is marked in parentheses, indicating an interruption in the flow of argument to be stressed in speech to capture the audience’s attention.148.148. Henrike Lähnemann and Michael Rupp, Parenthese, in: Historisches Wörterbuch der Rhetorik, vol. 6 (2003), cols. 573‑76..
The point is used both for full stops at the end of sentences and for other strong interruptions of the speech flow where in modern punctuation a semicolon, a colon, or even just a comma would be used, as in §6 Jtem also hatt er selbs all die absoluirt. Maria Magda. den gichtpruchtigē. Die eebrecherynne &c. With modern punctuation this would read Item, also hatt er selbs all die absolviert: Maria Magdalena, den Gichtprüchtigen, die Ehebrecherinne etc.
/ The virgula (forward slash) is the main means of structuring sentences, standing for the modern comma and functioning like a musical caesura. It helps to create a rhythmical structure, particularly noticeable in the last paragraph of the Sermon where Luther builds the argument up to a crescendo with a dramatic sequence of parallel syntactic units. He claims not to care for eczlich finster gehyrne / die die Biblien nie gerochē / die Christenlichē lerer nie geleszē [/]yhr eigen lerer nie vorstanden / sundern in yhren lochereten vnd czurissen opinien vill nah vorwesen. If we were to mark up the translation accordingly, it would run: certain dark minds / who have never been within smelling distance of the Bible / never read the Christian teachers / never understood their own teachers / but under their tattered threadbare opinions are all but wasting away. In the Leipzig print, no virgule is needed after geleszē because a line break acts as the equivalent structural marker. This shows how punctuation is adapted to the physical copy and, like spelling, reflects the production of the text by the printer rather than exactly reproducing a predefined text.
- AbbreviationsEarly printing took over from manuscripts some handy ways to save space. The main abbreviation mark is a dash ‘ˉ’ over a character. Most frequently it is a nasal bar to replace a following -n, as in the Leipzig edition (L) §3: Beeten / vastē / almuszē which in the Basel (B) version reads Baͤtten / vasten / almůsen, but it also can replace -m, as in B §19 Zů dē neünzehenden (the previous paragraph has the full form: Zů dem achtzehenden). There are also a number of established abbreviations for frequent words, mainly ‘dz’ = das (only in B), ‘vn̄’ = und, and ‘ď’ = der.Other abbreviations are used for references such as ‘p̄s’ (L) or ‘Psal.’ (B) = Psalm. Twice in L, points used for punctuation double up as abbreviation marks (Magda. for Magdalena and Sentē. for Sententiarum). Capital ‘S’ as a title for saints is enclosed between two points, which function as space marker for the extreme abbreviation, and has to be resolved in accordance with whether the name or title is referred to in Latin or German. Ill. 15: Forms of Saint in L,Arch. 8° G. 1518 (6), A3r/v Thus .S. Petri (§15) is based on the Latin name of the apostle Petrus and needs to be resolved with a matching Latin case ending as Sancti Petri, while he is called by his German name Peter in the next paragraph; .S. Peters (§16) therefore reads either as Sankt orSant Peters – both German forms come up in full in the same paragraph. The first paragraph in L reads: Czum Ersten solt yr wissen / das eczlich new lerer / als Magister Sentē .S. Thomas vn̄ yhre folger gebē d’ pusz drey teyl. With modern spelling and punctuation, this would run as Zum ersten sollt ihr wissen, dass ezlich neu Lehrer, als Magister Sententiarum Sanctus (or San(c)t since the name Thomas is identical in Latin and German)Thomas und ihre Folger, geben der Puß (= Buße) drei Teil.
- u/v/w – i/j/y – v/f, and different s and r formsThe Roman alphabet had only one symbol for u and v and one for i and j. u/v/w (double u) and i/j (long i)/y (double i) are therefore graphic variants, not distributed according to their function as vowels or consonants, e.g. vnd (und), trewe (Treue), Ill. 16: vo2furtL §16, A3vyhn (ihn); v/f are both used for f, similarly to modern German. The two typographically different forms for s (s at the end, long ſ otherwise) and r (2 mostly after o, sometimes after b, d, h, p, otherwise r) have not been distinguished.
- Umlaut and superscript e and o The umlaut sound would in most cases have been in the same position as in modern German but there is no strict rule for writing it; the Leipzig print shows no diacritical mark at all and only keeps the Middle High German convention of writing the umlaut of a as e, e.g. §20 lestern / vnuorhort vn̄ vnuberwundē for lästern, unverhört,und unüberwunden. By contrast, the Basel print frequently uses umlaut dots for ü, e.g. in fünf and sünde, also occasionally after e (neünzehen), and makes an excessive use of superscript e: it not only serves for umlaut of long and short a, o, u (e.g. lasz die faulen schlaͤfferigen ablasz loͤsen forlaß die faulen Schläferigen Ablass lösen) but is also used (unhistorically) for e as in haͤrtzliche for herzliche. The Basel printer is fairly consistent in the use of ů, i.e. superscript o over u, for the Middle High German uo. The same sentence in §14 thus reads in Leipzig wollen kecklich vben in guten wercken and in Basel woͤlle kaͤcklich uͤben yn gůten werckē. When reading the text out loud, readers should use umlauts where they would be in standard modern German, or enjoy the freedom to modify the vowel sounds to fit their own dialect (cf. ‘Language and Style’ §§8–9).
- Double versus single consonants and s/sz/ß, k/ck, z/cz/tzThere is no consistency in writing single and double consonant such as f/ff or n/nn (except that the doubled spelling is avoided at the beginning of words), and they can be pronounced alike (but see §3 of ‘Language and Style’ below). This also applies to the s forms. ß started out as ligature ſ and 3 to indicate a double consonant and can be typeset as one character ß or as two distinct letters sz, e.g. ablasz, ablaß and ablas; ck is the spelling for double k; cz/tz is the spelling for z. A comparison between the two editions can be helpful: L Funffczehenden would have been pronounced like B fünffzehenden.
- Use of h and e after vowelsThe use of h after a long preceding vowel is not consistent, e.g. nehmen and nemen are used interchangeably; ee indicates long e (seele). As for ie/ye, whether these were read as a diphthong or long i would have depended on the dialect of the reader. See §§2 and 9–10 of ‘Language and Style’ below.
- Hyphenation, word division, and mergersHyphens in the form of ‘=’ are used frequently, but not consistently, to indicate the continuation of words across line breaks (ge=||bewde and ge||weyset). Split words have been linked in the transcription but the irregular use of spaces in-line such as got lob andgottlob, czuuorachten and czu vben, inszfegfewr and ausz dē fegfewr has not been normalized, even though it might just reflect the typesetter adapting to how much or little space was left in a line.
- Capital lettersCapital letters are used as in English to indicate the beginning of new sentences and for proper names but also for other words such as Creucz, Latin terms such as Medicatiuas and Satisfactorias for the two types of peyn, or the numbering of the paragraphs as in Czum Sechsten; these have not been normalized since they highlight key points in the text.
4. Language and Style
This section summarizes the differences between the German of Luther’s time and today’s standard language, compares the language of the two printed pamphlets (‘prints’) in this edition, and discusses Luther’s style. Further linguistic comments can be found in the notes to the transcriptions.
Phonology – general comments
We set out below the main phonological differences between the language of the Sermon and present-day standard German (‘New High German’ or ‘NHG’), and we comment on the dialect features of the two prints reproduced in this volume.
The modern reader is struck by the inconsistency in the spelling of Early New High German (ENHG)149.149. Early New High German (ENHG) refers to the German language between 1350 and 1650, Middle High German (MHG) to 1050–1350, and Old High German to the period before 1050. texts such as those in this edition. Some spelling variants represent the same sounds; these are discussed in ‘How to Read the Sermon’ above. The spelling variants dealt with in this section are those which reflect phonological variation, corresponding to language change at the time, dialect differences, or features of the spoken language.
The prints reproduced here were made in Leipzig and Basel (see chapter 2.1. ‘Production’ above), abbreviated here to ‘L’ and ‘B’ (or ‘LB’ if reference is made to both); numbered references are to points 1–20 of the Sermon. L is close in its spelling to the Wittenberg prints of the Sermon, and its dialect features are largely those associated with the East Central German area in which both Leipzig and Wittenberg are situated. The spelling of B diverges from that of L in ways that are characteristic of the Low Alemannic dialect area where Basel is located. However, as is typical of ENHG texts, both L and B include spellings which are not primarily associated with their own dialect areas. The transcription of L is contained in this volume; that of B can be found on the website editions.mml.ox.ac.uk.
Phonology - Typical Early New High German features found in both prints
§1 Omission of unstressed ‹e›. The omission of ‹e› in the middle of a word (reflecting syncope) or at the end (apocope) is widespread, e.g. ‘seins fleyschs’ (L3), ‘dritt’ (L2), respectively. When the consonants either side of the unstressed vowel are the same or similar, one of them may also be lost (by ‘haplology’), e.g. ‘desz ablas’ (L15; here the ending -es is omitted), ‘gegrund’ (L19; for ‘gegrundet’), ‘czurissen’ (L20; for ‘czurissenen’). Sometimes unstressed vowels are spelt in the prints which are omitted in the equivalent NHG word, e.g. ‘geteylet’ (L3; cf. NHG geteilt); at other times unstressed vowels are omitted in the prints which are spelt in NHG, e.g. ‘gnugthuung’ (L1; NHG Genugtuung).
§2 Marking of long vowels. Long vowels may be marked with a following ‹h› as in NHG, e.g. ‘hynnehme’ (L5), ‘wohl’ (B12). This is more widespread in L but inconsistent in both prints, e.g. hyn neme (L9), ‘wol’ (B12). Long [e:] is sometimes marked by doubling, e.g. ‘seelen’ (L18), ‘seer’ (L20).150.150. The marking of vowels in open syllables as long which had been short in MHG, such as in ‘hynnehme’ (cf. MHG neme with short [ɛ]), is consistent with such vowels generally having been lengthened (in line with NHG) by Luther’s time.
§3 Variation in single and double consonants. Within both prints there is inconsistency even in the spelling of the same words, e.g. ‘kann/kan’ (L8, 11), ‘will/wil’ (B7), ‘ablasz/ablas’ (L15). This variation reflects the breakdown of the phonological distinction between single and double consonants which operated in MHG, so that as a rule consonants were now pronounced short however they were spelt. As in NHG, double consonants tend to follow short vowels (except for ‹ff› – see below). However, as the examples just cited show, single consonants follow short vowels as well, so that the NHG practice of indicating a long vowel in a stressed medial syllable with a following single consonant and a short vowel with a following double consonant is not observed.151.151. We do not find consonant doubling used to make the graphemic distinction between dass and das as we do in NHG, e.g. ‘das (eczlich)’ (= NHG dass) and ‘das (yczt)’ (= NHG das) in L1. Printers sometimes used double consonants to fill up short lines and justify the text (in L4 we even find ‘dannn’).
Both texts have (often unhistorical) geminate ‹ff› in all positions except syllable-initially, e.g. ‘Funfften’ (L5), ‘vnuorworffen̄’ (L6), ‘bedarff’ (L16). This may signify a more fortis articulation than in syllable-initial position, where ‹f›, ‹v›, or ‹u› occurs, e.g. fleyschs (L3), ‘vastē’ (L3), ‘vnuolkōmen’ (L14).
§4 The spellings ‹dt› and ‹th›. The digraph ‹dt› often appears in syllable-final position where ‹d› would occur in NHG, e.g. ‘todtsund’ (L11), ‘yemādt’ (L13), ‘nyemandt’ (L16). The ‹dt› spelling is a compromise between the phonetic MHG spelling ‹t›, which reflects final devoicing, and the NHG spelling, which uses ‹d› consistently in a word if the sound is voiced in medial position (e.g. niemandem) and devoiced finally (niemand).152.152. The spelling ‹gk› in ‘Wittenbergk’ in the title of both prints represents a similar compromise.
The spelling ‹th› instead of NHG ‹t›, e.g. ‘thun’ (L4) reflects a learned practice associated with Humanism, possibly originating with German words modelled on Greek or Latin cognates in θ or th, e.g. thier on Greek θήρ ‘wild animal’, or names such as Thomas.
§5 Variation in final ‹t›. There is an unhistorical final ‹t› in ‘den nocht’ (L9), possibly added to reproduce a sound that was thought by listeners to occur at the end of certain words.153.153. See Hermann Paul, Mittelhochdeutsche Grammatik, Tübingen 252007, 140; and Charles V. J. Russ, Studies in Historical German Phonology. A Phonological Comparison of MHG and NHG with Reference to Modern Dialects, Bern/Frankfurt am Main 1982, 38–43. Further examples are ‘yczt’ (L1) (cf. MHG iez(e)) and ‘selbst’ (L18), although in all other instances of the latter in both prints the historical ‘selbs’ occurs (e.g. LB6). Note that final ‹t› is omitted in ‘begreyff/begreiff’ (LB3) and ‘nich’ (L18).
§6 The spellings ‹mpt› and ‹umb›. In spellings such as ‘nympt’ (L2), ‘kumpt’ (L16), and ‘alsampt’ (L19), the [p] sound is unhistorical. It is a so-called ‘epenthetic glide consonant’, meaning that it has been inserted to bridge the articulatory gap between the sounds either side. Thus, like [m], [p] is bilabial, and like [t] it is a voiceless plosive, so it shares features with its immediate neighbours and eases articulation. By contrast, the [b] represented in ‘darumb’ (e.g. L14) is historical (cf. MHG dar umbe).
§7 Contractions. Both prints show contractions between words: ‘wiltu’, ‘magstu’, ‘saltu’, ‘halts’ (all from LB16), no doubt in imitation of spoken German.
Phonology – Differences between the prints
§8 Umlaut. In both prints ‹e› is used for NHG ‹ä›, e.g. ‘Nemlich’ (LB1), ‘vnscheczlicher’ (LB13). Otherwise umlaut is unmarked in L; this is typical of Central German texts of this period and does not point to non-umlauted pronunciation.154.154. See also ‘erleubt’ and footnote (L17). In B, ‹oͤ› stands for NHG ‹ö›, e.g. ‘hoͤren’ (B3), ‘moͤchten’ (B4), and ‹ü› occurs as in NHG, e.g. ‘für’ (B4), ‘sünde’ (B5). Note that the symbol ‹aͤ› in B is a spelling variant for ‹e› found particularly for a long vowel or before ‹r›, e.g. ‘laͤsen’, ‘waͤrck’ (both B3). On ‹uͤ›, see §9.
§9 Monophthongization of MHG [uo], [üe], [ie]. In NHG these diphthongs have been monophthongized to [u:], [ü:], [i:], respectively. As is typical of ENHG texts from the Central German dialect area, this process is reflected in L, e.g. ‘czuthun’ (L4) for MHG zuo tuon, and ‘vben’ (L6) for MHG üeben. It is not possible to tell for certain whether ‹ie› represents a monophthong because this would be the spelling for the old diphthong as well. However, the fact that this spelling is used for the monophthong [i:] even when it is not the reflex of [ie] is consistent with its representing a monophthong throughout, e.g. ‘vielē’ (L5), ‘syeben’ (L11) – in these cases [i:] comes from the lengthening of [i] in open syllables, not from monophthongization.
In B, the diphthongal spellings ‹ů› and ‹uͤ› are typical of Alemannic texts of the time, reflecting the lack of monophthongization in this dialect area, e.g. ‘zů thůn’ (B4) and ‘uͤben’ (B6). As with L, it is not possible to tell for certain whether ‹ie› represents the old diphthong [ie] or its monophthongal reflex [i:]. However, unlike L, B uses the spelling ‹ie› only for what had been diphthongs in MHG (e.g. ‘niemandt’ B8, ‘lieber’ B9) and never for a long [i:] resulting from lengthening (e.g. ‘vylen’ B5, ‘syben’ B11). This is consistent with the spelling ‹ie› representing a diphthong, which would be in keeping with the diphthongal spellings ‹ů› and ‹uͤ›.
§10 Diphthongization of MHG [u:], [ü:] (=‹iu›), [i:]. In NHG these monophthongs have been diphthongized to [au], [oi], and [ai], respectively. As is typical of ENHG texts from the Central German dialect area, this process is seen in L, e.g. ‘auff’ (L6) (MHG ûf), ‘newen’ (L9) and ‘euch’ (L16) (MHG niuwen, iuch), and ‘deynē/dein’ (L16) (MHG dîn).
For the most part, B has diphthongal spellings too, e.g. ‘auff’ (B6), ‘newen’ (B9) and ‘eüch’ (B16), ‘dein’ (B16). However, this does not mirror the pronunciation in the Low Alemannic dialect area around Basel, where diphthongization did not, in general, take place. There are counter-examples to these diphthongal spellings, however, e.g. ‘vff’ (B16), ‘luter’ (B15), ‘nündē’ (B9), ‘verzyhet’ (B13; cf. L13 ‘vorczeyhet’ where the diphthong is spelt).155.155. For details on the geographical extent of diphthongization, see Oskar Reichmann, Klaus-Peter Wegera (eds), Frühneuhochdeutsche Grammatik, Tübingen 1993, 64–67; and Peter Wiesinger, Phonetisch-phonologische Untersuchungen zur Vokalentwicklung in den deutschen Dialekten. 1: Die Langvokale im Hochdeutschen, Berlin 1970, 86–95, 183–91.
§11 Vowel rounding. B shows rounding of [i] to [ü] in ‘würckest’ (B18), ‘gehürne’ (B20), and ‘wüstē’ (B20) (cf. ‘wirckest’, ‘gehyrne’, and ‘wisten’ in L) and rounding of [e] to [ö] in ‘zwoͤlfften’ (B12) (cf. ‘czwelfftē’ in L). The rounded forms are associated with the Alemannic dialect area. Note that NHG has adopted some rounded forms but not others.
§12 Variation between ‹a› and ‹o› in certain words. L tends to show the ‹a› spelling and B the ‹o› spelling in ‘ader/oder’ (e.g. LB15), ‘ab/ob’ (e.g. LB5), ‘sall/soll’ (e.g. LB11). The ‹a› spellings are associated particularly with the East Central German dialect area. However, there are some counter-examples in each print, e.g. ‘soll’ (L14), ‘ader’ (B12). The ‹o› spellings become more common in Luther’s later writings.
§13 Variation between the prefix ‘vor-’and ‘ver-’. L usually has the typical Central German prefix vor- where B has the typical Upper German prefix ver-, e.g. ‘vorlassen/verlassen’ (LB9) and ‘vorfurt/verfuͤrt’ (LB16). However, B also has a few instances of vor‑, e.g. ‘vorspricht’ (B7).
§14 Variation between long vowel and diphthong in words beginning ‹je› in NHG. The variation in spelling in, e.g. ‘yczt’ (L1) vs ‘jetzund’ (B1) and ‘yglich’ (L11) vs ‘jegliche’ (B11), points to a characteristic dialect difference between the long vowel [i:] in Central German and the diphthong [ie] in Upper German. However, the contrast shows up only in certain words: in ‘yemand’ (L10) and ‘yederman’ (L11), L, like B, reflects a diphthongal pronunciation (and B has an exceptional ‘jtzet’ in B11). Note that, in NHG, ‹je› represents [jɛ], a semi-vowel followed by a vowel, which is different from both [i:] and [ie].
§15 Other differences. See notes to ‘pusz’ (L1), ‘erbeiten’ (L3), ‘gottis’ (L7), ‘sulchs’ (L9), ‘brengen’ (L10), and ‘erleubt’ (L17).
Both prints have examples of MHG inflections which have not survived into NHG.
§16 Nouns. There are some feminine nouns with weak MHG endings (i.e. ‑(e)n in all cases, singular and plural, except for the nominative singular in -(e)), e.g. dative singular ‘der seelē’ (L3), ‘der ruthen’ (L7), and accusative singular ‘die Biblien’ (L20). Other feminine nouns decline with strong MHG endings (i.e. -(e) in all cases except for the dative and (sometimes) genitive plural in -(e)n), e.g. ‘(disze) peyne’ (nominative singular; L7), ‘(zweyerley) peyne’ (accusative plural; L9). There are also strong neuter nouns with uninflected nominative/accusative plural forms as in MHG, e.g. ‘gute werck’ (L5).
As for strong adjectives, the nominative singular of all genders and the accusative neuter and feminine singular had alternative uninflected forms in ENHG (as in MHG); we see this, for example, in ‘hart lager’ (L3) and ‘hart ligē’ (B3) where the adjective would be ‘hartes’ in NHG.
§17 Verbs. In ‘fund’ (LB16; = fünde), we have the MHG form of the preterite subjunctive of finden; this has become fände in NHG, where all forms of the preterite now show a (indicative) or ä (subjunctive) by analogy with the historical indicative preterite singular fand. Among weak verb forms we find ‘gedaucht’ (LB6) (the past participle of dünken), which is the reflex of the MHG gedûht showing diphthongization of [u:] to [au]; see §10. However, there is also the form ‘gedunckten/gedūckten’ in LB8, which shows levelling to the infinitive/present.156.156. Note that the (archaic) NHG forms of the preterite and past participle deuchte/gedeucht are based on the MHG preterite subjunctive form diuhte (with diphthongization of [ü:] to [oi]; see §10)
The main morphological contrasts between the prints are that L has the typically Central German ‘sein’ as the third-person plural present indicative of the verb ‘to be’ where B has the typical Upper German ‘sind’, e.g. ‘seyn/sind’ (LB11),157.157. L has one example of ‘sind’ in 19. and B has the typically Alemannic first- and second-person plural ending -ent (or here -end with [t] voiced to [d] by assimilation with [n]) in ‘soͤllend (jr)’ and ‘wellēd (wir)’ (B1).
§18 Latin inflections. A common feature of ENHG religious texts is the Latin inflection of Latin words, as seen, for example, in ‘Christi’ (L6), ‘doctores’ (L6), ‘doctorem’ (title B), ‘Medicatiuas’ (L9), ‘Petri’ (L15), and ‘scholasticos’ (L19).
§19 The terms around which the argument in the Sermon revolves are (with the translations used in this edition) ‘ablasz’ ‘indulgence’, ‘gnad’ ‘grace’, ‘pusz/bůsz’ ‘penance’, ‘peycht/beycht’ ‘confession’, ‘peyn’ ‘punishment’, and ‘gnugthuung’ ‘satisfaction’. See ‘Theological and Historical Background’.
Some words in the Sermon have different meanings from those of their reflexes in NHG or have dropped out of use. The differences are made clear in the translation or the notes to the transcriptions, but those which occur frequently in the text are listed below:
- als can mean ‘as’ corresponding to NHG wie, e.g. ‘als wachen…’, L3;
- dann can mean ‘than’ corresponding to NHG als, e.g. ‘dann̄ alleyne gottis’, L7;
- ob can mean ‘if’ or ‘even if’, corresponding to NHG (auch) wenn, e.g. ‘ob die Christenliche kirch…’, L9;
- so can serve as a conjunction meaning ‘if/when’, e.g. ‘szo du wilt’ ‘if you wish’, L16;
- vor in L can mean NHG für, e.g. ‘vor ein yglich todtsund’ ‘for each mortal sin’, L11 (cf. ‘für ein jegliche totsünd’ in B11);
- wol tends to mean ‘very’ or ‘indeed’ rather than ‘probably’ as in NHG, e.g. ‘Un̄d mocht woll gerne…’ ‘And I would very much like…’, L6.
The two prints sometimes show different choices from variant forms, e.g. ‘schrifft/geschryfft’ (LB1), ‘gebewde/gebew’ (LB15), ‘schmuck/ geschmuck’ (LB16); other lexical differences between the prints are mentioned in the notes to the transcriptions.
§20 Use of the subjunctive. The subjunctive is used more widely in the Sermon than it would be in NHG. For example, it is found in subordinate clauses which depend on another clause which is negative or doubtful, as in the following cases:
In NHG the equivalents of the underlined verbs would be in the indicative.
The subjunctive is also found after commands or implicit commands where NHG would have the indicative, e.g.
and in concessive clauses, e.g.
Luther makes widespread use of subordinate clauses without conjunctions to introduce indirect discourse, e.g.
The verb in the subordinate clause may be in the indicative or subjunctive, as these two examples show, respectively. The use of such ‘unintroduced’ subordinate clauses, with either mood, is also found in NHG, with the indicative associated particularly with colloquial usage. In ENHG such constructions are widespread even in official texts, and do not necessarily indicate a low register.158.158. For an example in a royal declaration, see Wladimir Admoni, Die Entwicklung des Ganzsatzes und seines Wortbestandes in der deutschen Literatursprache bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, in: Günther Feudel (ed), Studien zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, Berlin 1972, 263–64.
§21 Genitive phrases. There are examples in the Sermon of a genitive noun or phrase placed before the noun on which it depends, rather than after (as would be expected in NHG), e.g. ‘czu der Christenheyt schmach’ (L10), ‘von der dinger czall’ (L17). The latter of these is also an example of a ‘partitive genitive’, a phrase which denotes part of what is mentioned in the genitive. There are a number of such constructions in the Sermon, some of which would have to be rephrased in NHG. For example, ‘vill gutter werck’ (L16) literally ‘much of good works’ corresponds to NHG ‘viele gute Werke’.
§22 Word order in verb phrases. In the great majority of (i) main clauses in which there is more than one verbal element and (ii) subordinate clauses, there is a full verbal bracket with no ‘Nachfeld’, that is, with none of the clause occurring after the right‑hand part of the bracket. Here is an example in which there are two co-ordinated main clauses, each with a full verbal bracket:
In the following subordinate clause (also quoted above), there is again a full verbal bracket, formed this time of the conjunction ‘Wann gleych’ (= NHG wenngleich) and the finite verb ‘ginge’:
However, there are counter-examples, as in the following main clause and subordinate clause, respectively (‘Nachfeld’ underlined):
The order of verbal elements at the end of a subordinate clause is generally in line with the prevailing order in NHG, that is, with the finite verb in final position,159.159. The main exception to this order in NHG is in subordinate clauses in which there are two infinitives, one of which is the infinitive of a modal verb serving as a participle, e.g. … weil er den Brief hätte schreiben sollen. e.g. ‘wer das anders bewerē soll’ (L6), but there are exceptions, such as, ‘Szo (‘if’) seyn kinder werden sundigen … ’ (L7), where the NHG order would be ‘sundigen werden’.
In modern German the creation of a ‘Nachfeld’ and the placing of the non-finite verb element after the finite element in a subordinate clause are associated with colloquial or dialectal usage. However, it is unlikely that either practice was associated particularly with spoken, as opposed to written, German at the time Luther was writing the Sermon. Word order in subordinate clauses has been shown to reflect a mix of factors at the time, including the type and register of text, the role and status of the writer, the need to disambiguate subordinate clauses from main clauses, and, in translated texts, the word order of the original.160.160. For summaries of the literature, including references to studies on Luther’s word order, see Anne Betten, Grundzüge der Prosasyntax. Stilprägende Entwicklungen vom Althochdeutschen zum Neuhochdeutschen, Tübingen 1987, 127–37; and Jürg Fleischer and Oliver Schallert, Historische Syntax des Deutschen. Eine Einführung, Tübingen 2011, 159–73. On ‘unintroduced’ subordinate clauses, see §20.
In many respects the style of the Sermon is in line with German prose style at the time and is not peculiar to Luther. For any vernacular writing of the period we must allow for the linguistic differences between ENHG and NHG outlined above and for the fact that, in the intervening period, German has become standardized in spelling and grammar. German has also, since Luther’s time, developed an abstract vocabulary that was not available at that time, Latin being the medium for most academic discourse, so that even on serious topics the lexis of the vernacular may appear strikingly concrete to the modern reader.
Two important precedents in Luther’s time for serious German prose writing were chancery (that is, legal and administrative) documents and the sermons of earlier preachers. The contrast between the style of the Sermon and that of chancery documents betrays their different purposes. Chancery documents, whose content was often complex and legalistic, include lengthy subordinate clauses, often nested in each other down to several levels, and placed at the beginning of the sentence, during which the addressee has to wait for the arrival of the main clause (typically a declaration or command). Word order in subordinate clauses in chancery documents is largely in line with NHG practice, that is, with the finite verb at the end.161.161. For examples, see Admoni, Die Entwicklung des Ganzsatzes. In the Sermon, by contrast, there is rarely more than one level of subordination, the subordinate clause typically follows the main clause, and word order in such clauses can be variable, as shown in §22 above.
Vernacular sermons in German date back to the High Middle Ages, with Berthold von Regensburg (c. 1210–72), Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1328), and Johannes Tauler (1300–61) the best known exponents in Luther’s time. Luther was certainly familiar with the works of Tauler as well as with an anonymous work of mysticism which has come to be called Theologia Deutsch, which Luther admired for its spare, unadorned language.162.162. See Erwin Arndt and Gisela Brandt, Luther und die deutsche Sprache, Leipzig 1983, 14. Indeed, some of the stylistic aspects of the Sermon are shared with the sermons of his forerunners and the Theologia Deutsch: the simple syntax, largely comprising short co-ordinated main clauses (e.g. 3), the use of the first and second person for preacher and addressee (e.g. 16), references to ‘man’ (e.g. 14) and the inclusive ‘wir’ for generalizations (e.g. 4), and questions and answers to help make points through imaginary dialogue (e.g. 16).
However, Luther’s prose style stands out from that of his predecessors. The following features, illustrated in the Sermon, are considered characteristic of his German writing.
§23 Directness. A good example in the Sermon is in the exposition in 1–5, and particularly in 3 where Luther lists the three components of satisfaction before defining each in turn, all in short, paratactic sentences (similar to bullet-points today). However, directness is not synonymous with simplicity: in 8 he draws a stark logical conclusion from the preceding points but in a dense, grammatically complex sentence (see notes to the transcription and translation).
§24 Disparagement. Although insults were a feature of academic and polemical discourse at the time, Luther is especially fond of them in his popular vernacular writing.163.163. On the relative frequency of insults in Luther’s writings and those of his contemporaries, see Franzjosef Pensel, Zur Personalabwertung, in: Gerhard Kettmann and Joachim Schildt (eds), Zur Literatursprache im Zeitalter der frühbürgerlichen Revolution. Untersuchungen zu ihrer Verwendung in der Agitationsliteratur, Berlin 1978, 219–340, especially 339. They may be expressed through word choice (e.g. ‘plauderey’ L9, ‘geplerre’ L20), but can also involve sustained invective; thus the Sermon ends with a colourful swipe at his scholastic opponents, portraying them as sinister, ignorant, washed-out relics.
§25 Proverbs and sayings. Luther often lightens his writing with proverbs – or at least proverb-like statements, because it is sometimes not possible to tell whether he is reusing an existing proverb or coining one himself. Examples in the Sermon are: ‘Es ist besser eyn gutes werck gethā / dann̄ vill nach gelassen’, ‘[er] sucht yhe dein seel in deynem Beutell vnd fund er pfenning darinne / das were ym lieber dan̄ all seelē (both L16).164.164. See James C. Cornette, Proverbs and Proverbial Expressions in the German Works of Martin Luther, ed. by Wolfgang Mieder and Dorothee Racette, Bern 1997.
§26 Doublets and lists. Luther often uses two co-ordinated synonyms or near synonyms (in line with chancery practice), possibly for emphasis; examples from the Sermon are ‘duldet vnnd zuleszet’ (L14) and ‘gelassen vn̄ erleubt’ (L17).165.165. See Neil R. Leroux, Luther’s use of doublets in: Rhetoric Society Quarterly 30 (2000), 35–54. On the other hand he is fond of asyndetic lists, e.g. ‘die rew / die peycht / die gnugthuung’ (L1); ‘wachen / erbeiten / hart lager / cleider &c’ (L3); and ‘tzu den kirchen / altarn / schmuck / kelich’ (L16). Such lists, especially those ending ‘etc.’ (L3, 6), add pace to the text and sound spontaneous.
§27 Modal particles. These are unstressed words which convey, in general terms, the speaker’s attitude to what is being said. As in NHG, they were part of the language of persuasion in Luther’s time and avoided in formal writing,166.166. See Joachim Schildt, Modalwörter – Aufkommen und Verbreitung in Texten des 16. Jahrhunderts, in: Peter Wiesinger (ed), Studien zum Frühneuhochdeutschen. Emil Skála zum 60. Geburtstag, Göppingen 1988, 247–62; and Peter von Polenz, Deutsche Sprachgeschichte vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. 1: Einführung – Grundbegriffe – 14. bis 16. Jahrhundert, Berlin/New York 22000, 247–48. and it is a reasonable assumption that they were characteristic of the spoken language. They are not widely used in the Sermon, but examples with doch and ja include ‘so doch’ (‘when in fact’) (L13) and ‘ya alls was…’ (‘Indeed everything which …’) (L9).
We may wonder at the mix of stylistic features in the Sermon: homiletic in 16, with its clear instruction and imaginary question and answer; densely reasoned in 8, in which much of Luther’s argument is distilled into a few lines; disparaging in 20, with its comic portrayal of the wretches opposing him. But this was no ordinary sermon. Judging from its title it was preached at Wittenberg, but it was above all meant as an opportunity for Luther to set out his views on indulgences for a general audience (see ‘Theological and Historical Background’). In its style no less than in its subject matter, the Sermon set a precedent, and set the tone, for a stream of works in which Luther would give the reading and listening public access to the central arguments of the Reformation.
A note on the translations in this edition
The translations of the Sermon and of the 95 Theses are primarily meant as an aid to understand the original alongside. In the translation of the Sermon an attempt has also been made to convey in English something of Luther’s style.
These translations, as well as the analysis of Luther’s language and style (above), benefited enormously from perceptive comments and suggestions by Jeffrey Ashcroft, John Flood, Shami Ghosh, Lucas Jones, Martin Jones, Henrike Lähnemann, Martin Keßler, Nigel Palmer, Charles Russ, and Edmund Wareham, to all of whom I am extremely grateful.
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