The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

4
THE SCHOLASTIC LEARNING

"THE university at Erfurt used to be of such standing and repute that all the others might be looked upon as junior colleges in comparison."1 This remark of Martin's in the Table Talk belongs to a period more than a quarter of a century after his graduation. He could still recall his ecstasy when he was received into the rank of masters: "What majesty and splendor there was when one received his master's degree! They brought torches to him and presented them. I think that no earthly joy could be compared with it." These recollections and the regrets that he voiced at the decay of the university after the religious revolution give us some idea of the depth of the Erfurt experience. In later days he has, to be sure, many bitter things to say about university learning, particularly in the field of theology, and Erfurt does not escape: "It is no better than a stall full of sows," he declares in a well-attested remark in the Table Talk;2 and six years later he speaks with sorrow of the decay of the university due to the attitude of the archbishop of Mainz.3 These remarks stem from years of polemical bitterness and concern what he held to be an outworn theology. Occasionally also he recalls the pettiness and uselessness of the sophistry and word-splitting in his university training. The dialectic of his day was a "futile playing with words, with 'universals' and 'predicaments'" and a fighting of "horrible battles" about them without understanding their use.4 On another occasion he is said to have remarked to his friend Justus Jonas: "If your son were twenty years old I could teach him all the sophistical expressions with their meanings in three hours."5

Nevertheless, intensive practice in the "little logic" and the Aristotelian Organon set an enduring stamp on young Martin's impressionable mind. The first subjects which a young teacher has to present to pupils are usually

____________________
1
TR, II, No. 2788b.
2

TR, III, Nos. 2871a and 2871b.

3
TR, IV, No. 4033
4
TR, II, No. 2191.
5
TR, IV, No. 5033.

-47-

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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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