The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

11
PROFESSOR AND PREACHER AT WITTENBERG

"ONCE Staupitz was sitting absorbed in thought under the pear tree which still stands in the middle of the yard of my house. Finally he said to me: 'Master, you must take the doctor's degree; that will give you something to do.'"1 The place and the mood in which the younger brother heard this program for his future dwelt vividly in his mind twenty years later. We do not know the time of the conversation, but it was probably in the spring or summer of 1512. Perhaps, if Martin shared Lang's exile from the Erfurt cloister for taking the side of Staupitz, he may have joined the Wittenberg cloister in the preceding winter. His abilities, his spiritual experiences, and Staupitz's friendship made him a marked man among the Augustinians, and many must have looked at him with interest when he appeared among the representatives of reformed cloisters at the Cologne conference of 1512. The administrative duties of subprior at Wittenberg which were put on him at this conference could not occupy fully the energies of so dynamic a personality. It soon became apparent that Staupitz intended him for an office that would call forth all his reserves, since becoming a doctor of theology would bring with it two serious tasks: he would have to preach and to take the place of the general vicar as Biblical professor. The latter entailed giving a series of formal and formidable magisterial lectures on those books of the Old and New Testament which lent themselves to dogmatic interpretation. The former meant standing before his brother friars and his teachers -- quite another matter than facing an uncritical group of theological students. It was the call to preach that made him hesitate, he declares later, and the reports of his remarks on this subject are so categorical that they attest a deep and genuine feeling of uncertainty and even fear. On one occasion two decades later, standing under the same pear tree, he talked to a young

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1
TR, II, No. 2255a ( 1531).

-179-

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The Revolt of Martin Luther
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1 - Early Days at Home and School 3
  • 2 - The Schoolboy Abroad 20
  • 3 - Early Years at the University 32
  • 4 - The Scholastic Learning 47
  • 5 - Entrance into the Cloister 66
  • 6 - The Novitiate Year 79
  • 7 - Brother Martin of the Eremites 91
  • 8 - Student of Theology 104
  • 9 - The Young Lecturer 128
  • 10 - The Journey to Rome 161
  • 11 - Professor and Preacher at Wittenberg 179
  • 12 - Interpreter of Augustine and Paul 203
  • 13 - The Final Break with Scholasticism 224
  • 14 - The Attack on Indulgences 245
  • 15 - In Battle with the Dominicans 272
  • 16 - The Hearing at Augsburg 288
  • 17 - An Attempt at Compromise 305
  • 18 - The Leipzig Disputation the Prelude 327
  • 19 - The Leipzig Disputation the Combat 349
  • 20 - The Leipzig Disputation the Aftermath 368
  • 21 - A Battle of Polemics 395
  • 22 - Humanistic Friends and Allies 415
  • 23 - Growth as Teacher and Preacher 436
  • 24 - The Rising Tide of Revolt 463
  • 25 - The Attack on the Sacraments 479
  • 26 - The Break with Rome 491
  • 27 - Appeal to the Secular Classes 507
  • 28 - The Final Break with Church Tradition 524
  • 29 - The Bull and the Counterattack 539
  • 30 - Book-Burning on Rhine and Elbe 562
  • 31 - Prelude to the Diet at Worms 587
  • 32 - The Diet in Session 614
  • 33 - Martin before the Diet 649
  • 34 - Refusal to Compromise 670
  • Conclusion 693
  • List of Abbreviations 694
  • Selected Bibliography 695
  • Index 715
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