Martin Luther

Martin Luther
Martin Luther by Cranach-restoration.jpg
Martin Luther (1529) by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Born10 November 1483
Eisleben, County of Mansfeld in the Holy Roman Empire
Died18 February 1546(1546-02-18) (aged 62)
Eisleben, County of Mansfeld in the Holy Roman Empire
EducationUniversity of Erfurt
Occupation
Notable work
Spouse(s)Katharina von Bora
Children
Theological work
EraReformation
Tradition or movementLutheranism
Signature
Martin Luther Signature.svg

Martin Luther, O.S.A. (ər/;[1] German: [ˈmaɐ̯tiːn ˈlʊtɐ]; 10 November 1483[2] – 18 February 1546) was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk,[3] and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the Catholic view on indulgences. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in his Ninety-five Theses of 1517. His refusal to renounce all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Luther taught that salvation and, consequently, eternal life are not earned by good deeds but are received only as the free gift of God's grace through the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God[4] and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood.[5] Those who identify with these, and all of Luther's wider teachings, are called Lutherans, though Luther insisted on Christian or Evangelical (German: evangelisch) as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ.

His translation of the Bible into the German vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible to the laity, an event that had a tremendous impact on both the church and German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation,[6] and influenced the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible.[7] His hymns influenced the development of singing in Protestant churches.[8] His marriage to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant clergy to marry.[9]

In two of his later works, Luther expressed antagonistic views towards Jews.[10] His rhetoric was not alone directed at Jews, but also towards Roman Catholics (whom Protestants labeled "Papists"), Anabaptists, and nontrinitarian Christians.[11] Martin Luther died in 1546, with his decree of excommunication by Pope Leo X still effective. On his deathbed, Luther was asked: "Are you ready to die trusting in your Lord Jesus Christ and to confess the doctrine which you have taught in his name?" He answered "Yes", before taking his final breath.[12]

Early life

Birth and education

Portraits of Hans and Margarethe Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1527.
Former monks' dormitory, St Augustine's Monastery, Erfurt.

Martin Luther was born to Hans Luder (or Ludher, later Luther)[13] and his wife Margarethe (née Lindemann) on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, County of Mansfeld in the Holy Roman Empire. Luther was baptized the next morning on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. His family moved to Mansfeld in 1484, where his father was a leaseholder of copper mines and smelters[14] and served as one of four citizen representatives on the local council; in 1492 he was elected as a town councilor.[15][13] The religious scholar Martin Marty describes Luther's mother as a hard-working woman of "trading-class stock and middling means" and notes that Luther's enemies later wrongly described her as a whore and bath attendant.[13]

He had several brothers and sisters, and is known to have been close to one of them, Jacob.[16] Hans Luther was ambitious for himself and his family, and he was determined to see Martin, his eldest son, become a lawyer. He sent Martin to Latin schools in Mansfeld, then Magdeburg in 1497, where he attended a school operated by a lay group called the Brethren of the Common Life, and Eisenach in 1498.[17] The three schools focused on the so-called "trivium": grammar, rhetoric, and logic. Luther later compared his education there to purgatory and hell.[18]

In 1501, at the age of 17, he entered the University of Erfurt, which he later described as a beerhouse and whorehouse.[19] He was made to wake at four every morning for what has been described as "a day of rote learning and often wearying spiritual exercises."[19] He received his master's degree in 1505.[20]

Luther as a friar, with tonsure.

In accordance with his father's wishes, he enrolled in law but dropped out almost immediately, believing that law represented uncertainty.[20] Luther sought assurances about life and was drawn to theology and philosophy, expressing particular interest in Aristotle, William of Ockham, and Gabriel Biel.[20] He was deeply influenced by two tutors, Bartholomaeus Arnoldi von Usingen and Jodocus Trutfetter, who taught him to be suspicious of even the greatest thinkers[20] and to test everything himself by experience.[21]

Philosophy proved to be unsatisfying, offering assurance about the use of reason but none about loving God, which to Luther was more important. Reason could not lead men to God, he felt, and he thereafter developed a love-hate relationship with Aristotle over the latter's emphasis on reason.[21] For Luther, reason could be used to question men and institutions, but not God. Human beings could learn about God only through divine revelation, he believed, and Scripture therefore became increasingly important to him.[21]

On 2 July 1505, while returning to university on horseback after a trip home, a lightning bolt struck near Luther during a thunderstorm. Later telling his father he was terrified of death and divine judgment, he cried out, "Help! Saint Anna, I will become a monk!"[22][23] He came to view his cry for help as a vow he could never break. He left university, sold his books, and entered St. Augustine's Monastery in Erfurt on 17 July 1505.[24] One friend blamed the decision on Luther's sadness over the deaths of two friends. Luther himself seemed saddened by the move. Those who attended a farewell supper walked him to the door of the Black Cloister. "This day you see me, and then, not ever again," he said.[21] His father was furious over what he saw as a waste of Luther's education.[25]

Early and academic life

A posthumous portrait of Luther as an Augustinian friar.

Luther dedicated himself to the Augustinian order, devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimage, and frequent confession.[26] Luther described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. He said, "I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul."[27] Johann von Staupitz, his superior, pointed Luther's mind away from continual reflection upon his sins toward the merits of Christ. He taught that true repentance does not involve self-inflicted penances and punishments but rather a change of heart.[28]

On 3 April 1507, Jerome Schultz (lat.Hieronymus Scultetus), the Bishop of Brandenburg, ordained Luther in Erfurt Cathedral. In 1508, von Staupitz, first dean of the newly founded University of Wittenberg, sent for Luther, to teach theology.[28][29] He received a bachelor's degree in Biblical studies on 9 March 1508, and another bachelor's degree in the Sentences by Peter Lombard in 1509.[30]

On 19 October 1512, he was awarded his Doctor of Theology and, on 21 October 1512, was received into the senate of the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg,[31] having succeeded Staupitz as chair of theology.[32] He spent the rest of his career in this position at the University of Wittenberg.

He was made provincial vicar of Saxony and Thuringia by his religious order in 1515. This meant he was to visit and oversee each of eleven monasteries in his province.[33]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Martin Luther
Alemannisch: Martin Luther
Ænglisc: Martin Luther
العربية: مارتن لوثر
aragonés: Martín Lutero
asturianu: Martín Luteru
azərbaycanca: Martin Lüter
Bân-lâm-gú: Martin Luther
башҡортса: Мартин Лютер
беларуская: Марцін Лютэр
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Мартын Лютэр
भोजपुरी: मार्टिन लूथर
Bikol Central: Martin Luther
Bislama: Martin Luther
български: Мартин Лутер
Boarisch: Martin Luther
bosanski: Martin Luther
brezhoneg: Martin Luther
català: Martí Luter
čeština: Martin Luther
Cymraeg: Martin Luther
Deutsch: Martin Luther
español: Martín Lutero
Esperanto: Marteno Lutero
estremeñu: Martin Luther
euskara: Martin Lutero
Fiji Hindi: Martin Luther
føroyskt: Martin Luther
français: Martin Luther
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Gàidhlig: Martin Luther
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: ल्यूथर, मार्टिन
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Martin Luther
한국어: 마르틴 루터
hornjoserbsce: Martin Luther
hrvatski: Martin Luther
Ilokano: Martin Luther
Bahasa Indonesia: Martin Luther
interlingua: Martin Luther
Interlingue: Martin Luther
isiZulu: Martin Luther
íslenska: Marteinn Lúther
italiano: Martin Lutero
Basa Jawa: Martin Luther
Kabɩyɛ: Martin Luther
kaszëbsczi: Môrcën Lëter
қазақша: Мартин Лютер
kernowek: Martin Luther
Kiswahili: Martin Luther
Кыргызча: Мартин Лютер
кырык мары: Лӱтер, Мартин
Lëtzebuergesch: Martin Luther
lietuvių: Martin Luther
lingála: Martin Luther
Lingua Franca Nova: Martin Luther
lumbaart: Martin Lüter
македонски: Мартин Лутер
Malagasy: Martin Lotera
მარგალური: მარტინ ლუთერი
مازِرونی: مارتین لوتر
Bahasa Melayu: Martin Luther
Baso Minangkabau: Martin Luther
မြန်မာဘာသာ: မာတင်လူသာ
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Martin Luther
Nederlands: Maarten Luther
Nedersaksies: Maarten Luther
नेपाल भाषा: मार्टिन लुथर
Napulitano: Martin Lutero
нохчийн: Лютер, Мартин
norsk nynorsk: Martin Luther
Nouormand: Martîn Luthèr
occitan: Martin Luther
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Lyuter Martin
پنجابی: مارٹن لوتھر
Piemontèis: Martin Luter
Tok Pisin: Martin Luther
Plattdüütsch: Martin Luther
polski: Marcin Luter
português: Martinho Lutero
reo tahiti: Martin Luther
română: Martin Luther
rumantsch: Martin Luther
Runa Simi: Martin Luther
русиньскый: Мартін Лутер
русский: Лютер, Мартин
саха тыла: Мартин Лютер
Gagana Samoa: Matini Luteru
संस्कृतम्: मार्टिन लूथर
sicilianu: Martin Luteru
Simple English: Martin Luther
slovenčina: Martin Luther
slovenščina: Martin Luther
ślůnski: Martin Luter
српски / srpski: Мартин Лутер
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Martin Luther
svenska: Martin Luther
Tagalog: Martin Luther
татарча/tatarça: Martin Lüter
Türkçe: Martin Luther
Türkmençe: Martin Lýuter
українська: Мартін Лютер
vèneto: Martin Lutero
Tiếng Việt: Martin Luther
Volapük: Martin Luther
Winaray: Martin Luther
Yorùbá: Martin Luther
粵語: 馬丁路德
žemaitėška: Martīns Lioteris