Sunday, October 02, 2011

Discussion of My Luther Marian Research in a Lutheran Blog Combox / One Citation Mistake from 1994 (With Clarification and Retraction)

I am not "anti-Luther." I am opposed to tenets of Luther's theology that I deem to be erroneous from a Catholic perspective. Catholics argue for Catholic theology; Lutherans for Lutheran theology. That's not rocket science. But honest differences do not equate to being "anti-". On my Luther and Lutheranism web page I have two sections of papers where I was either neutral on some view of Luther's, or defended him against calumnies. Examples of the latter:

The Supreme Importance of Interpreting Martin Luther in Context (E.g., His Views on Marriage and Sexuality)

Was Luther Primarily Responsible For Hitler?

Zwingli, Bucer, and Oecolampadius Said Martin Luther and Lutherans Weren't Christians

Did Martin Luther Believe That Jesus Had Carnal Relations With Mary Magdalene and Others? (vs. "BJ Bear" and "Bonnie" + EL Hamilton)

Martin Luther Despised the Widespread Antinomian Distortions of His Teaching on Faith Alone and Did Not Reject Mosaic Law

Martin Luther's Violent, Inflammatory Rhetoric and its Relationship to the German Peasants' Revolt (1524-1525) [partially a defense]

"Man-Centered" Sacramentalism: The Remarkable Incoherence of James White: How Can Martin Luther and St. Augustine Be Christians According to His Definition?


And here are examples where I agreed with Luther's positions or took a neutral stance:
 

Martin Luther on Sanctification and the Absolute Necessity of Good Works as the Proof of Authentic Faith

The "Catholic-Sounding" Utterances of Martin Luther: Concise Overview of 25 Areas of Agreement

My Luther Book Blasted For Being Far Too Kind and Charitable to Luther / Pre-Vatican II Popes' Use of the Description "Separated Brethren"

The Ghost of Martin Luther Interviews Bishop James White About Dastardly, Wascally Luther-Basher Dave Armstrong [portrays Luther as saved and in heaven]

Martin Luther Refutes Zwingli and Other Deniers of the Real Presence

The Protestant Sacramentarian Controversies (Calvin vs. Luther vs. Zwingli)

Baptismal Regeneration: Luther, Wesley, and Anglicanism

Martin Luther on Crucifixes, Images and Statues of Saints, and the Sign of the Cross

Has Martin Luther's "Snow-Covered Dunghill" Mystery-Legend Been Solved?!

Why Did God Kill Onan? Luther, Calvin, Wesley, C. S. Lewis, and Others on Contraception

Martin Luther: Strong Elements in His Thinking of Theosis and Transformational Sanctification Closely Allied with Justification

Martin Luther's Condemnation of the "Secret Sin" of Masturbation and Acceptance of Celibacy if One is Indeed Called to It By God

There is a current lively discussion (in the combox of  "The Pope on Luther") on a Lutheran blog: Cranach: The Blog of Veith, about Luther and Mary. I was criticized (I thought, unjustly), but after I replied, things became surprisingly pleasant and constructive discussion ensued. I am simply interested in Luther's Mariology as a question of historic theology and comparative theology, because I am greatly interested in 1) Luther, 2) Mariology, and 3) the history and development of Christian theology and doctrine. I note where he agrees with Catholics and where he disagrees.

Of course he has some strong disagreements, but he also agrees on many things, such as calling Mary "Mother of God" (Theotokos), her perpetual virginity, and (interestingly) in his espousal of her immaculate conception in a manner only slightly different from the Catholic dogmatic belief on that score. I've written four papers on the latter issue, and have done some very in-depth research on it:

Martin Luther's Mariology (Particularly the Immaculate Conception)

Luther's Belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception: Much Lutheran Scholarship)

Luther and the Immaculate Conception: More Opinion From (Mostly or All) Non-Catholic Historians and Other Scholars


Luther and the "Immaculate Purification"

Now let's examine the claims made about myself and my research on the combox cited above:

Webmaster Gene Veith opined:

Yes, Grace, this is NOTHING like the Roman Catholic approach to Mary as an intermediary in heaven, even as a “co-redemptrix.” Luther is saying in this quotation that we should learn from her humility, her faith, and her trust in the grace (Grace!) of God. He is even alluding to the Roman Catholic views and turning them upside down. They portray her as exalted; Luther and Mary herself stress her “low estate.” We don’t go “through her to God” in the sense of praying to her and doing Marian rituals, but only “thus”: to marvel at the exceeding abundant grace of God Who regards, embraces, and blesses so poor and despised a mortal. (9-28-11)

I agree with this, for the most part. Luther certainly didn't believe that Mary was a mediatrix, or in the invocation of saints, including the Blessed Virgin Mary. Grace wrote:
Luther believed Mary to be sinless which she was not. Of course one can make excues for that as well.
It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin Martin Luther
Sermon: “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” December 1527; from Hartmann Grisar, S. J., from the German Werke, Erlangen, 1826-1868, edited by J.G. Plochmann and J.A. Irmischer, (9-28-11)

As far as I can tell, I introduced this particular quote, or some version thereof, to the Internet in 1997, from my reading of Grisar. A portion of it was included in my first published article in Febuary, 1993 (The Catholic Answer), and the entire citation as given above, in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (completed in May 1996; self-published in 2001, pp. 202-203; Sophia Institute Press edition, 2003, pp. 205-206). It's controversial because this particular sermon is not included in the 55-volume English collection Luther's Works. But it is a genuine citation.

I discussed the source in my first lengthy article on Luther's Mariology. The primary source is from the Weimar edition of Luther's works (German standard collection): 17, II, 287-289 (German title: Am tage der Empfengknus Marie der mutter Gottes). This source was cited by Thomas A. O'Meara, O. P., in his book, Mary in Protestant and Catholic Theology (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966, pp. 117-118). It was cited at length by the Catholic Archbishop William Ullathorne, in his book, The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, revised by Canon Iles, Westminster: Art and Book Co., 1905 (pp. 132-134).

Lutheran scholar Eric W. Gritsch, who was a major translator in the English set of the works of Luther, also mentioned it in The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary, Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VIII (edited by H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1992): footnote 22 on page 381: "Sermon on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8?) 1527. Festival Postil (Festpostille). WA 17/2:288.17-34.")  

This book is one of an ongoing series of works detailing ecumenical Catholic-Lutheran efforts. Twelve Lutheran and ten Catholic scholars participated. Their "Common Statement" (a sort of creed-like formulation agreed-upon by all) yielded some very interesting conclusions indeed: 

(87) Luther himself professed the Immaculate Conception as a pleasing thought though not as an article of faith . . .

(p. 54)

(89) Luther preached on the Assumption . . . There were early Lutheran pastors who affirmed the Assumption as both evangelical and Lutheran.

(p. 55)

(101) From the Lutheran side, one may recall the honor and devotion paid to the Mother of God by Luther himself, including his own attitude to the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, which he accepted in some form.

Footnote 20 for this section, on pp. 340-341, is very informative:
With regard to the Immaculate Conception, Luther taught that Mary had been conceived in sin but her soul had been purified by infusion after conception. Sermon on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1527. Festival Postil (Festpostille). WA 17/2:288.17-34.
See also: Michael O'Carroll, Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1982, 226-228.

Luther did modify his view somewhat in later years, and it is a bit complex to explain the differences. I go through all that in my four papers on Luther and the Immaculate Conception. But his Mariology, even in its final, most developed form, is still more robust than virtually any Lutherans' views today.


Todd (henceforth in blue) wrote, replying to Grace:

You’re copying-and-pasting sentences you neither understand nor have even read in context. And you refuse to tell us where you’re getting these (apparently partially fabricated) quotes from — perhaps because it would embarrass both of us. (9-29-11)

I mean, we’re interested in correcting the record when someone posts obvious falsehoods about Luther — but only in the interest of facts, not because we subscribe to everything the man wrote. (9-29-11) 


. . . you keep quoting from what appears to be one of a handful of anti-Lutheran websites — the quotes from which are apparently partially spurious . . . (9-29-11)
. . . regurgitating half-fabricated, contextless quotes from a website that is poorly researched but quoted from for the sole reason that it has the same bias as the person quoting. (9-29-11)
. . . you flit from one Luther-bashing quote-mangling to another as you see fit. You clearly have no defense for your accusations against Luther, nor for the spurious quotes with which you hope to back them up. (9-29-11)
Of course, you’ll have to explain why your quotes don’t actually seem to match up with the original texts — while they do, ever-so-curiously, line up word-for-word with the quotes found on those hack pages. Because it certainly looks for all the world like you’re relying on extremely shoddy sources for your Luther attacks. But please, go ahead, prove me wrong. Point me to the original sources. I’ll wait. (9-29-11)
. . . you’re much more adept at quoting from shoddily-researched anti-Lutheran websi… I’m sorry, I mean from relatively obscure works of Martin Luther than you are at quoting from the actual document that defines Lutheranism. (10-2-11)

We have seen how my citation was quite genuine. If Todd wishes to spar with Lutheran scholar Eric W. Gritsch about that (or the Reformed apologist), it would be fun to see. Anyone who reads German can consult the Weimar edition and verify it for themselves.

I claim that Luther agreed with Catholics in some ways regarding Mary and disagreed with others. If that is too subtle and nuanced for Todd or others to grasp, that's their problem, not mine or my readers'. Luther did have a far more robust Marian theology than most Lutherans today, for sure (as many Lutheran scholars have noted). Nor is my goal to slander Luther. In these particular papers I am mostly in agreement with him, so it is hardly "slander" from my viewpoint. How is it "slander" to note that Luther accepted a version of the Immaculate Conception that is almost identical to my own Catholic view? That is an absurd notion.

Grace also cited another Luther utterance that originally (on the Internet) came from me:

“One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace. Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ. Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.”
Martin Luther (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521) (9-28-11)

This drawn word-for-word from my paper, Martin Luther's Devotion to Mary: a paper that is at least as old (online) as Nov. 1999, and which was written in 1994. It is no longer even online, on my site (I removed most or all of my older Luther papers as I learned more in my research and wrote newer, fuller papers).

In any event (I need to clarify and make clear, given the hysteria and alarmism in this thread, and accusations against my research), I never used this quote, myself, as any sort of defense of Luther believing that Mary was a mediatrix or channel of grace. I have never argued at any time that Luther believed that. It's simply a devotional statement in which Luther expresses Mary's extraordinary humility and Christocentric behavior: something with which we Catholics would heartily agree.

Tom Hering (words in red) then joined in the fun (10-2-11), and I replied (10-3-11 in the wee hours):
I’m not sure what to make of a Roman Catholic apologist defending a non-denominational Evangelical

Who’s defending Grace? I was defending myself against the charges made by Todd and [so-and-so], that I engage in research so bad that I fabricate quotations, and all with an “anti-Luther” motivation. She didn’t misrepresent him insofar as she cited my quotes from Luther, because I didn’t misrepresent Luther. I didn’t even read 90% of her comments in this thread.

who likes to regularly slander Luther, Lutherans, and Lutheranism

I don’t know what she does or doesn’t do. I don’t know who she is at all. This is all irrelevant to my reply.

– and this on a blog that’s authored by a Lutheran, and frequented by Lutherans.

How is it at all relevant what the blog is devoted to or who runs it? My name was brought up (in a venue that was public) and associated with atrocious research. If my name hadn’t been mentioned as a source I would never have found this (I discovered it in a Google blog search that I run regularly).

As usual, the folks who want to run me down didn’t have the courtesy to let me know about what they were saying. This is precisely why I do such searches, because critics rarely let one know they are being criticized. The unwillingness to make such a communication is usually directly proportionate to the ignorance and cluelessness of the criticism (as presently).

Since my name and research have been dragged through the mud, I have every intellectual right to come and give my side of it. And you want to quibble that it is a Lutheran blog? I don’t care if it is a red-headed, green-eyed Rastafarian blog. It has absolutely nothing to do with a public claim being made about person x, and x being able to respond publicly in the same venue, and face his accusers.

The world gets weirder every day.

Yes it sure does, and you are contributing to that with these weird, odd comments that show but a dim comprehension of why I commented here at all.

Tom keeps it up in another comment, and I counter-respond again:


Dave, the very first words out of your mouth here (@ 101) were, “You gotta love it when two people … chide Grace for supposedly misrepresenting Luther …” (emphasis added). 

I figured you would make an issue of one word interpreted with little regard for context. Like I said, I know nothing about Grace. But let’s play your game. I also wrote: “She didn’t misrepresent him insofar as she cited my quotes from Luther . . .” My only concern for Grace’s position in this situation is how she cited my words (and caught flak for it, simply because folks didn’t like some of Luther’s own words). I have expressed no opinion on anything else she has argued here. Like I said, I didn’t even read most of it. Yet you are convinced I have some profound bias towards her expressed opinions.

You kind of established your sympathies right off the bat, don’t you think?

Absolutely. I am very biased towards my own work and am willing to defend it, or retract where that necessity arises out of discussion and correction. I’m weird that way.

And I wonder how, if you “didn’t even read 90% of her comments in this thread,” you can say anything at all on the subject of Grace misrepresenting Luther.

Again (read this real slowly . . .), I commented on her only insofar as she had anything to do with me. She did by using a quote that appeared in my book, and a second from one of my Internet papers.

I love the smell of offended RC apologists in the morning.

Then you need to get a life, if that is what you think you smell. I’m trying to have a rational discussion. I think it is possible with some here; probably not with you, judging from our present “discussion.” But four out of five ain’t bad. I’ll take it!

Todd then commented, and I replied" (one / two):

Dave, I had to re-read my comments to see if I had even mentioned your name that you would feel the need to respond to me. I hadn’t ([so-and-so] did, @59), but I did, somewhat unfortunately, link (@61) to a site that contains an article of yours.

It was a situation of allegedly “shoddy” research being bashed (complete with “fabricated” words); it turned out that the two Luther citations were drawn from my work (alas, without attribution); then my name was indeed mentioned (by someone else). If one person only is named, then for those reading, that person is associated with all the charges being slung around. And that is a scenario where the person has the right to respond and defend his work.

I say “somewhat unfortunately” because I wasn’t really paying close attention to the sites I offhandedly referred to.

Luther quotes are often used in an irresponsible manner; I agree. I’ve learned many things about Luther myself, the more I have studied him through the years. My own quotes, I find, are too often used in a manner that I would not sanction, myself.

But I would say that inaccuracy is not guaranteed simply because a site is Catholic. I’ve had bigwig Lutherans (at good ol’ Concordia this or that) tell me that Luther never sanctioned capital punishment for heresy, when it is well-known that he did. I knew this in 1984 as a Protestant, when I read Bainton’s Here I Stand (he documents it). Yet Lutherans who supposedly are informed will vigorously deny this. So there is enough bias to go around.

And, indeed, if you peruse the first two sites, you’ll see what I mean. A collection of random quotes with no explanation, much less context. It was especially the “Martin Loser” site, which I listed first, that I had in mind. Honestly, give it a look. Quality stuff, that.

I know that happens a lot, so I’ll take your word for it.

Or, heck, type in the quotes (of yours) that Grace pasted and see on what sites they’re found. Tell me if you disagree that such sites are not, in fact, “poorly researched”.

Oftentimes, yes. I know because citations that I originated on the Internet are usually used without noting where they came from (my books or papers). So the secondary source (myself) was eliminated, so that folks can’t check the context where I presented the quote.

But, like I said, your article on CatholicCulture.org was in the first three results I found, and I included it without much noticing that you actually included explanatory comments along with the Luther quotes. I certainly had no idea that yours was (apparently) the source for all those other slapdash websites. So for including you in my links, I apologize.

I understand. Thanks. My Luther research has been bashed many times before, so you’ll understand that I get a little tired of that. It’s refreshing to be able to talk and make the point that I am not like every site that cites Luther’s one-liners, etc. I appreciate the opportunity.

That said, my comment (@53) probably best explains my criticism of the alleged “Magnificat” quote that Grace offered up (@16):


At the very least, the quote you offered (@16) is a piecemeal quote that should have ellipses in it, but doesn’t. But I can’t even find most of it in Luther’s explanation of the Magnificat.

Possibly. The problem, I’ve found, in some of these Luther quotes that float around, is that there are many different sets of Luther’s works, and also translations of same into English. Before 1883 and the 1930s (German [Weimar] and English [Philadelphia] sets of Luther’s works), it was a lot more chaotic than it is now. I’ve entered into huge debates about single lines. Almost always it is a variable primary source or translation issue. Occasionally, it is a botched citation, where someone was irresponsible.

And this is true, though I notice now that the omission of the ellipses (which I still consider to be misrepresentative and shoddy work) is apparently unique to Grace’s sort-of quotation of your citation.

I will check back to see where that came from originally, and what else I can find out about it.

Still, it’s true that I can’t find most of what you say is in Luther’s “Magnificat”. Perhaps you can help me out here. As I have already said, I can find the bit about “Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God”, though I have also already shown that this sentence in no way means what Grace would have us believe. What I can’t find are the preceding two bits:


One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace … Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ.

I’ll do some further research and see what I can find out. I’m sure I can find where I got the quote. Then if there is a problem, it would be in that person’s work. If I made a mistake, I’ll be happy to publicly retract it.

I’ve already pointed to the place I’m reading Luther’s “Magnificat”, which, though poorly formatted, is itself taken from Muhlenberg Press’ Works of Martin Luther. I have searched and searched that online version, and I can’t find any quotes similar to those bits above which were in your original article.

Okay; well I think it is fun to go on these little “detective” searches. I enjoy it. Google Books and Internet Archive make it easy to do.

You seem to say that this quote (again, a piecemeal collection from “Magnificat”) “probably came from Grisar, too, though I’d have to check back on that.” Could you? Because, while I’m fully ready to believe that the online source I’m browsing isn’t perfect, it is all I have to go off at this point.

Will do.

As to your Immaculate Conception quote, I do not believe I addressed either you or your research.

I think you can see that that has a solid pedigree of documentation. I think many comments here were mocking the very notion that Luther might have thought Mary was sinless at any point of her life. But he did hold that in some sense. Luther and early Lutherans even still discussed Mary’s Assumption, though in a sub-dogmatic or optional sense. But they did, and they sure don’t do so now very often, do they? This is why I find history of doctrine an intriguing and fascinating study.

kerner wrote, and I responded:

You might print the apologies, responses, retractions and/or modifications that Todd and [so-and-so] posted in response to your protestations . . . I’m not sure they were ultimately as unfair to you as you imply here. . . .

I don’t blame you for being irritated in the first instance, but give give Todd and [so-and-so] their due. You might give it some thought.

Yes, I think we are making good progress and having a constructive discussion now. I’m in the process of replying to all comments made here today. Then I will post them and my replies in my paper, so all clarifications, apologies, etc., will be included in that. I do greatly appreciate the thoughtful replies, including your own.

I also changed the title of my blog paper to make it less polemical and more neutral. :-) So I am quite flexible myself in these matters, and love to find common ground wherever I can. I’m delighted at the present discussion and the irenic tone that is dominating it.


* * * 


I’m having unexpected difficulty tracking down the “Luther commenting on the Magnificat” citation, as I used it (from someone else). It doesn’t seem to be in Grisar (six-volume biography, Luther, or Patrick O’Hare (The Facts About Luther), or Janssen (History of the German People): three sources I often used in my Luther research in the early 90s (before I was even on the Internet; I had the O’Hare book and the other two sources were selectively photocopied from libraries).

I have mentioned that I no longer have this quote on my blog, to my knowledge. That was mistaken. I do have a copy of it, linked off of my Literary Resume page, because it was a twice-published article (Hands On Apologetics, Nov/Dec 1994, 20-23, 26 / The Coming Home Journal, January-March 1998, 12-13 ). I removed it, however, from my Luther and Lutheranism web page, because it was not fully documented research. That happened somewhere between Nov. 2007 and 24 May 2008: at which time the paper is no longer listed there, according to Internet Archive.


I have at least verified that ellipses were present in the paper on my website. Grace’s citation from who knows where (#16 above), doesn’t have them, and reads:

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace. Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ.Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.

In this form, it’s a botched citation (and Todd was right about that), because it runs together sentences that were originally separated. My citation, as used first in 1994, has two sections with ellipses:

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.

Anyone can verify this by checking out the Internet Archive scan of the paper from 5 December 1998: close to the time it was first posted online. Also, the version posted at the Catholic Culture website is identical (i.e., with the ellipses). And it is the same in the paper now present on my blog.

Therefore, someone took the ellipses out later on, and that "editorial decision" had nothing to do with my original (that I am having trouble finding the secondary or primary source for). That is indeed shoddy research, and rather inexcusable.

The version of the Commentary on the Magnificat from the Philadelphia edition of the early 30s (available online; I think Todd found this, too) reads as follows for the final clause (my bolding):

What, think you, would please her more than to have you thus come through her to God, and learn from her to put your hope and trust in Him, notwithstanding your despised and lowly estate, in life as well as in death? She does not want you to come to her, but through her to God.

The previous paragraph also has this “through her” terminology:

Hence all those who heap so great praise and honor upon her head are not far from making an idol of her, as though she were concerned that men should honor her and look to her for good things, when in truth she thrusts this from her, and would have us honor God in her and come through her to a good confidence in His grace.

Interestingly, the Lutheran editor writes in his Introduction:

Although Luther regards her in one place as sinless, and invokes her aid and intercession at the beginning and close of his work, these are isolated instances; the whole tenor of the exposition is evangelical, and as far removed from the Mariolatry of Rome as from an ultra-protestant depreciation of the Mother of our Lord. 

I looked but couldn’t find what he was referring to. But we can be assured something to the effect was present, if a Lutheran scholar was fair-minded enough to admit it. :-)

I shall look trough the online text to see what might match up with the rest of “my” citation.

* * *

It looks more and more like this will come down to different editions of Luther’s Works, and not deliberate textual mischief (apart from the ellipses issue, that was messing with the text used (wherever it came from).

There are several German sets of Luther’s writings, and there are Latin and German versions of original primary texts, and sometimes revisions from Luther himself. Then there are various English translations, and not just the sets from the 1930s (Philadelphia) and 1955 (Pelikan et al, 55 volumes). Scholars writing in English cite portions, too; usually from Weimar (1883).

If, e.g., my citation were from Grisar, it would be an English translation of his German, that was in turn drawn from a Luther primary source (from one of the several sets; Grisar uses more than one) that may have been in either German or Latin. These factors can easily account for variations. I know this to be the case for sure because I have engaged in several intense debates about short Luther texts. All kinds of things are possible, text-wise.

No one even need take my word for it. Albert T. W. Steinhaeuser, the translator, wrote at the end of his Introduction (my italics and bolding):

The treatise is found in Clemen, 2, 133-187; Weimar, 7:583-604; Erlangen, 45:211-290; Berlin, 6:161-248; Walch, 7:1220-1317; St. Louis, 7:1372- 1445. For a list of the early editions the student must go to the Weimar Edition, 7:540 ff. The only other English translation known to us is one published by James Nicholson in Southwark, in 1538 (Clemen, 2:138), which we have not been able to see. Lonicer prepared a Latin translation (Martin Lutheri super Magnificat commentarii nuper e vernacula in latinurm versi a Jobanne Lonicero, Strassburg, 1525), which is of value in throwing light on several textual difficulties. The gradual growth of the treatise, as well as a short summary of its contents, may be traced in Kostlin-Kawerau, Martin Luther, 5. ed., 1:368, 374 f., 401 f., 445 f.


So that is six versions from German sets, before we even get to English. They will not be identical. Therefore, folks can quote different ones, and they will sometimes seem like different quotes, or deliberately modified ones.

I happen to have a hard copy of Works of Martin Luther, Vol. III (Philadelphia: 1930) in my own extensive Luther library, and so can locate some things that are not as easily found in the online version. She is described by Luther as sinless on p. 161 (my bolding):

Mary also freely ascribes all to God’s grace, not to her merit. For though she was without sin, yet that grace was too surpassing great for her to deserve it in any way. How should a creature deserve to become the Mother of God!

Three places are noted, where Luther asked for or mentioned Mary’s invocation and/or intercession (my bolding):

May the tender Mother of God herself procure for me the spirit of wisdom, profitably and thoroughly to expound this song of hers, so that your Grace as well as we all may draw therefrom wholesome knowledge and a praiseworthy life, and thus come to chant and sing this Magnificat eternally in heaven.  (p. 125) 
That is why I said Mary does not desire to be an idol; she does nothing, God does all. We ought to call upon her, that for her sake God may grant and do what we request. Thus also all other saints are to be invoked, so that the work may be every way God’s alone. (p. 164) 

Very Catholic! Luther understands biblical paradox: God does all; at the same time (without contradiction) He uses us to do it.

We pray God to give us a right understanding of this Magnificat, an understanding that consists not merely in brilliant words, but I glowing life in body and soul. May Christ grant us this through the intercession and for the sake of His dear Mother Mary. Amen. (p. 198)

Therefore, Luther at this time believed in the invocation and intercession of the saints, including Mary. This writing (so says Steinhaeuser) was completed by 10 June 1521 and published in late August or early September 1521.

Later, Luther changed his view on those things, but he still believed them as late as after the Diet of Worms, which ran from 28 January to 25 May 1521.
And how many Lutherans would have known that? I dare say, not one in a hundred (if that), including many (if not most) reading this very combox. But there it is, right in a June 1521 treatise. I haven’t even noted this before, myself, but I certainly will now.

* * *

I would note that every concept in the citation that I used is present in Luther, here or elsewhere. We may quibble about texts till kingdom come, and I have given my opinion on the difficulties there, but my task and point as a Catholic apologist and student of Church history and the "Reformation" (so-called), studying the history of Luther's beliefs (particularly on Mariology), is to establish through historical and textual research
what he believed about certain things at certain times.

We have already figured out that the last clause in my citation is from this Commentary on the Magnificat. I would like to submit that most of the rest is in there, too, and that it is a matter of variations. Here is my citation, minus the last part that has been sufficiently verified:

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . 

Now, note the following passage, from Steinhaeuser (1930):

But she does take it amiss that the vain chatterers preach and write so many things about her merits. They are set on proving their own skill, and fail to see how they spoil the Magnificat, make the Mother of God a liar, and diminish the grace of God. For, in proportion as we ascribe merit and worthiness to her, we lower the grace of God and diminish the truth of the Magnificat. The angel salutes her but as highly favored of God, and because the Lord is with her, wherefore she is blessed among women ( Luke 1:28). Hence all those who heap so great praise and honor upon her head are not far from making an idol of her, as though she were concerned that men should honor her and look to her for good things, when in truth she thrusts this from her, and would have us honor God in her and come through her to a good confidence in His grace.

Whoever, therefore, would show her the proper honor must not regard her alone and by herself, but set her in the presence of God and far beneath Him, must there strip her of all honor, and regard her low estate, as she says; he should then marvel at the exceeding abundant grace of God Who regards, embraces, and blesses so poor and despised a mortal. Thus regarding her, you will be moved to love and praise God for His grace, and drawn to look for all good things to Him, Who does not reject but graciously regards poor and despised and lowly mortals. Thus your heart will be strengthened in faith and love and hope. What, think you, would please her more than to have you thus come through her to God, and learn from her to put your hope and trust in Him, notwithstanding your despised and lowly estate, in life as well as in death? She does not want you to come to her, but through her to God. Again, nothing would please her better than to have you turn in fear from all lofty things on which men set their hearts, seeing that even in His mother God neither found nor desired aught of high degree.

Except for the last sentence, which doesn't seem to be there, everything else is (conceptually), which leads me to believe that it is merely a variant issue.  What I have seems to be a shorter, or abridged version of the longer one that was translated in 1930 (probably from the Weimar edition, 1883). In the following couplets, I will present my version, then Steinhaeuser's (with color coding for particular comparisons):

A1 One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat.

A2 But she does take it amiss that the vain chatterers preach and write so many things about her merits. They are set on proving their own skill, and fail to see how they spoil the Magnificat, . . .

B1 She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her?

B2  Hence all those who heap so great praise and honor upon her head are not far from making an idol of her, as though she were concerned that men should honor her and look to her for good things, when in truth she thrusts this from her, and would have us honor God in her . . . 

C1 The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace . . .

C2 Whoever, therefore, would show her the proper honor must not regard her alone and by herself, but set her in the presence of God and far beneath Him, must there strip her of all honor, and regard her low estate, as she says; he should then marvel at the exceeding abundant grace of God Who regards, embraces, and blesses so poor and despised a mortal. Thus regarding her, you will be moved to love and praise God for His grace, . . .


The final clause ("Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ") is difficult to find in anything approaching this form (based on a search for "Christ"), but surely very similar sentiments are expressed. For example:

. . . must not regard her alone and by herself, but set her in the presence of God . . . [seen above]

She does not desire herself to be esteemed; she magnifies God alone and gives all glory to Him. She leaves herself out, and ascribes everything to God alone, from Whom she received it.

. . . she counted herself alone unworthy of such honor and all others worthy of it.

That is to magnify God alone, to count only Him great and lay claim to nothing.

That is to say, “As I lay no claim to the work, neither do I to the name and fame. For the name and fame belong to Him alone Who does the work. It is not meet that one should do the work, and another have the fame and take the glory. I am but the workshop wherein He performs His work; I had nothing to do with the work itself. None, therefore, should praise me or give me the glory for becoming the Mother of God, but God alone and His work are to be honored and praised in me. It is enough to congratulate me and call me blessed, because God used me and wrought in me His works.” Behold, how completely she traces all to God, lays claim to no works, no honor, no fame. 

In other words, even if someone is skeptical of the above speculative textual comparisons, it remains true that in"my" citation, nothing is present which would suggest that Luther believed something (at this time) that he did not in fact believe. He has not been misrepresented in that (conceptual) sense. I still believe it is a genuine citation; just from another edition of his works that has yet to be determined. Failing that, we see all the same sorts of beliefs in the "official" English version of 1930.

If I had, on the other hand, made an argument like, for example, stating that Luther held to Mary Mediatrix precisely as St. Bernard or St. Alphonsus de Liguori did, this would be false and would truly misrepresent Luther's Mariology, no matter what text was suggested as proof of it. The present citation, wherever it is from (considered more abstractly, apart from the textual issue that needs to be resolved) does no such thing.

* * * 


Todd wrote:

Dave (@127), just for the record, I think you’ve so far duplicated my own (amateur) sleuthing into the matter.


Not being an actual Luther scholar, I don’t own a copy of Luther’s works in any collection larger than the Book of Concord (which, you know, doesn’t contain his treatise on the Magnificat). There does not appear to be a definitive answer to this question online. I’ve given it a fairly extensive go, and that’s my conclusion.


I mean, have a go yourself at the translation available at GodRules.net. I did some spot-checking of that version against the Muhlenberg Press text (which is searchable, but only sort of, through Google Books), and they seem to be identical. Perhaps you’ll do a better job than I of discovering “what might match up with the rest of [your] citation”, but I tried searching for an awful lot of potentially unique segments from your citation (as well as possible variations that might have resulted from varying translations), and I could, again, only find the “through her to God” sentence, which is, by now, fairly well established. . . . 

Oddly, a year ago, Grace had posted this same quote on this blog (you see how long she’s been at it) in an attempt to make a point about Luther/Lutherans believing in Mary as mediatrix (which you’ve denied), but with the correct ellipses. So we should probably mark their omission as merely sloppy on her part.

My reply:

I think it’s a basic category error. Luther writes in the Commentary on the Magnificat:

She does not want you to come to her, but through her to God.
and:

[Mary] . . . would have us honor God in her and come through her to a good confidence in His grace. 

The doctrine of Mary as mediatrix is that God chooses to channel His grace (of which only He is the source; we agree with y’all) to men through Mary. Here, Luther is expressing something the opposite of that: going through Mary to God (rather than vice versa, which is the mediatrix doctrine). I think what Luther means is one or possibly two things:

1) Honor towards Mary (what we call veneration) redounds to God the creator and source of all her fine attributes; hence, goes “through” her to Him.

2) Going “through” Mary is another way of saying that she intercedes for us at our request (since Luther in the same work alludes to such invocation / intercession three times).

Neither is nearly the same thing as Mary acting as a mediatrix, by God’s sovereign choice.

Todd again, with my reply (one / two):

Dave (@137, 138), I must admit to being slightly confused as to your purpose, at this point. As you may recall (@101), you burst onto the scene complaining about you and your research being “misrepresented”, and rallying under the banner of “accuracy and truth”.

Yes, of course. At that point the claim was made that deliberate botching and fabrication was occurring. What would you expect me to do? There have been apologies or retractions or recognitions of same from now three people, so why go back to a more negative tone after we have gotten past all that?

My “purpose, at this point” is to simply find the source; and I have speculated about the text being a variant. I think it’s fun. It's no big deal. What was a big deal was the charge of deliberate misrepresentation or “slander,” that was backed away from.

Might I, then, be forgiven for thinking that your new standard (@137):

ME: “every concept in the citation that I used is present in Luther, here or elsewhere”

That’s not a “new standard”; it is simply anticipating another possible objection: hitting it from another angle. No biggie.


is a little disappointing?

You’re entitled to your opinion. It is a valid point in and of itself, whatever you think of it.

I mean, I get that your interest is in what Luther believed, over time. And while that isn’t, as such, my interest, I also have no particular issue with your saying that Luther had some ideas about Mary that not only changed over time, but are not terribly common among modern Lutherans.

Good. You shouldn’t. He believed what he believed, and that is a determination of historiography.

But, again, the whole thing that brought you here was about the accuracy of a quote — namely, this one allegedly from the explanation of the Magnificat. 

It wasn’t one quote. My main focus at first was the one about the Immaculate Conception, that I defended at great length (and no one has since contested). Then I got curious about the other, but unexpectedly had trouble finding the source I got it from.

As you must know, it is hardly scholarly to say a quote is accurate merely because it sounds like something Luther might have said, or said somewhere else — or at least it is consonant with things that we can all agree he actually did say.

But I didn’t say (or argue) that (nice try). I didn’t say that the quote qua quote was accurate (textually) because it is conceptually similar. I said something very different: that whatever happens in the textual discussion, it remains true that Luther believed what is in this quote. This is a completely different consideration entirely distinct from the textual argument. It was an aside; nothing more, meant to deal with the anticipated objection that the motivation of the person who constructed the quote was to misrepresent Luther.

I stated above: “I still believe it is a genuine citation; just from another edition of his works that has yet to be determined.” My belief that it is genuine (could still be wrong, if someone shows that) isn’t based on conceptual similarity, but on the fact that I know (almost certainly) that I found the quote from some kind of scholar; hence, that it is very likely authentic, and is a textual variation, such as was discussed in the Introduction.

ME: “We may quibble about texts till kingdom come”

Again, this [Magnificat citation] is a quote from you, and you’re standing behind it. I expect a better attitude than that, if you’re going to continue to stake your reputation on this quote. 

That’s ridiculous. What I stood behind was my general contention that I don’t deliberately fabricate quotations, as you charged. It’s absolutely absurd to state that I have staked my “reputation” on this quote. Not at all. It was from 1994 research, before the Internet. I have noted already how I removed the paper it came from, from listings on my Luther web page because it was not sufficiently documented. It is hardly, then, an example of anything I would stand behind.

I stood firmly behind the Immaculate Conception quotation, because I have done a great deal of additional research since. This one may still turn out to be objectionable in some fashion, and I will retract what is necessary to retract, if that is shown. That said, it seems to me that enough evidence has been presented to suggest that it is from the same work, but from a different German version of it. 

You’ve made this about you, personally, 

No, you and [so-and-so] made this about me personally (and he specifically apologized and you softened your stance, too). I was merely responding, since this comes up a lot: how I am supposedly such a terrible Luther researcher (mostly from anti-Catholic quarters). 

and, as you’ve noted, the quote you produced has gone on to be replicated on many, many other websites that use it as proof of this or that. 

That’s correct. 

Is the quote accurate? As in, does there actually exist an English translation with those words in it, or even a German one that would produce such a translation? 

That’s obviously what we’re trying to find out. I thought we were starting to work together towards that end, but now you have decided to go back to the oppositional, polemical thing again. 

This is hardly “quibbling”. You had no problem noting (@127) that the omission of ellipses from your quote was “botched”, “shoddy”, and “rather inexcusable”, though in that case, someone else was at fault. 

Deliberate tampering with a text like that is indefensible. 

Surely, then, the manufacturing of a quote that is merely accurate at the conceptual level would be even more botched, shoddy, and inexcusable — the very accusations that brought you to this site all in a tizzy! 

That remains to be proven. 

Of course, I’m not saying that you did manufacture it. But you are in the awkward position of claiming that you popularized the quote, you stand behind it, and you don’t know where it came from. The ball is definitely in your court on this one. 

I’m not omniscient. I spent a few hours trying to track something down that occurred 17 or more years ago. I wasn’t able to find it (almost always I am able to do so when I search for such “unknown sources”). Most people would understand that I gave it the old college try, and that it is a piece of lost information. But now you want to get all melodramatic (with distortions I have noted above) and go back to polemics.

Feel free. I think it is unnecessary and uncalled-for. But I’m controversial as always (what else is new?).
* * * 


As I had expected, I did locate the citation that I utilized. I skimmed one of my photocopied articles too fast and missed it the first time around. Determined, I went back to look again and found it. My guess was correct. It’s from:

“Was Luther a Devotee of Mary?, by William J. Cole, Marian Studies, Vol. 21, 1970 (Mariological Society of America; edited by Eamon R. Carroll), pp. 94-202 (citation in question found on pp. 132-133).

I can see now what happened. The author presented the quotes in a somewhat confusing manner, leading me to merge what now appear to be two separate works, with some ellipses. It was an inadvertent mistake — human error –, certainly not deliberate tampering, but a serious one in terms of citation, which I now acknowledge and retract. I’m just happy that we got to the bottom of this. Here is the entire section. The words that I eliminated (substituting ellipses) will be in blue:


We cannot dispute the fact that Luther honored Mary and wished her to be honored. As Preuss has observed,

Mary is and remains for Luther worthy of honor or veneration. He always maintains this although he changed the reason for it. For him the main reason is not that she has given us Christ, but that she is a model for our acceptance of Him. 143

There remains the question how. Luther himself responds in the Magnificat and many other places:

One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace. God has given Mary the honor to be the Mother of God and this honor we all wish to give her, to praise her highly, and to hold her in respect. But we must thereby enter the right path, and this way is Christ, for Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ and she bore Christ for me, not herself. 144

Putting it negatively,

One must not attach himself to the mother of God and depend upon her, but through her he must press on to God. Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God. 145

143 Horst Dietrich Preuss, Maria bei Luther, G├╝tersloh, 1954, p. 26.

144 WA 1, 60; cf. 7, 193, 553, 560, 565, 568, 575; 11, 60; 15, 477, 480; 17 (2), 320; 32, 265; 34 (2), 496.

145 WA 7, 564, 567, 568, 569, 574; 10 (3), 316; but especially 10 (2), 407.

So why did I take out so much text? if I recall correctly, I was trying to get to the heart of the matter at hand: veneration of Mary. Most of what I removed had to do with “Mother of God”, so it was not some conspiracy to take out “evangelical” elements of his words. I left in the very evangelical-sounding “Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ.” Thus, there is no grounds for suspecting that I was seeking to distort what was written.

My mistake was to combine the two, thinking they were from the same work. Oddly, Cole introduces both citations by mentioning the Magnificat, so I assumed that the first one was from that (also since, "Magnificat" was mentioned in the first quote). But it appears that only the second was. The first is from WA 1, 60, and the second from WA, 7, with a bunch of pages listed (which is also confusing, for an excerpt just two sentences long).

So there you have it. It was a legitimate secondary source in English, with a mistake on my part that I think is perfectly understandable, because of the confusing nature of the presentation.

I was also wrong in speculating that it was from a version other than Weimar. My source verifies that it is indeed from WA. The mystery is in explaining the difference between the Cole version and the seeming same passage in the Steinhaeuser 1930 version. I don’t have the LW version on-hand to compare that:

Steinhaeuser (1930): What, think you, would please her more than to have you thus come through her to God, and learn from her to put your hope and trust in Him, notwithstanding your despised and lowly estate, in life as well as in death? She does not want you to come to her, but through her to God.

Cole (1970): One must not attach himself to the mother of God and depend upon her, but through her he must press on to God. Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.

Steinhaeuser doesn’t state in his Introduction the exact source that he is translating (unless I missed it).

I found an obituary for The Rev. Dr. William J. Cole (1923-1994). It states that he was “professor of theology for 25 years at the University of Dayton.” The article cuts off before one can learn where he obtained his doctorate.

Todd wrote:


And thanks, Dave, for owning up to your error. I know that’s difficult to do, perhaps especially in online discussions in which one is invested. You are forgiven.


That said, I hope it’s not pouring too much salt in the wound to express hope that you’ll post this final update to the parallel blog post you’ve been running, or even that it might merit its own post (as unwieldy as that one post has become)! I ask this not out of some misguided notion of penance being paid for your error (of course not), but rather in the perhaps vain hope that your blog would show up early in the Google results for the next poor soul trying to track down the source of a somewhat spurious Luther quote being (ab)used in an online discussion.


Absolutely. I will also go into my original post and make the clarification there of the quotation.

[added now to this paper] I have also changed the title of this post, to indicate that I made a mistake and have retracted it.

* * * 

I was having difficulty tracking down the initial source for my citation, as I noted earlier in the discussion.  But, egged on by Todd, in went back to the lengthy Cole article on Luther's Mariology, and managed to find it.  

Cole's version had no ellipses. He has two sections, but that's all he does in terms of separation. If he is stringing sentences together that don't belong together, according to the primary text, then it is a botched citation, and indeed a fabricated one, because it should have ellipses where there are gaps in the text. 


I was being strongly urged to produce the [source of the] quotation, and I agreed. I had trouble finding it at first (because I hadn’t highlighted the portion I was looking for); then I did find it. It’s (partially) in a photocopy that has been part of my Luther files for some twenty years now.

It was “my” source in the first place, in the sense that I found it in the library and may have also been the first to mention it on the Internet. I found it in 1994 and used it as a source in an article that was published twice in print (though it wasn’t mentioned in that article, which is why I had to look for it).

I cited the article by full name in my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, which was completed in 1996, published on my own in 2001, and then by Sophia Institute Press in 2003. I cite Cole twice on p. 205 (also footnotes 213-214), and three times on p. 206 (footnotes 218, 220-221).




  
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5 comments:

Dave Armstrong said...

An exchange with Tom Hering was added to the end at 12:50 AM EST, 10-3-11.

Ben said...

Dave, you do great work, regardless of what your detractors may say or think.

Keep up the good work.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, much, my fiend. You do good work, too!

Dave Armstrong said...

Many more dialogues have been added, as of 12:45 PM EST, Monday. The discussion has taken a very pleasant, constructive turn, which is unusual in these encounters (with even some retractions and apologies offered). I'm very pleased about that.

Dave Armstrong said...

Much more added at 7:53 PM EST Monday. This is a dialogue in process. All was going very well, but now it is becoming a bit more acrimonious . . .