Perhaps the most notable Luther disciple and critic in the nineteenth
century was the Dane Sören Kierkegaard whose own legacy, however, lay
not so much in his own time as in posterity, especially in twentieth-century
20 Kierkegaard combined a deep appreciation for Luther,
expressed, for example, in his statement“Oh, Luther is, after all, the master
of all masters” with increasingcriticism of the reformer that matched, in its
intensity, the most strident comments levied in the sixteenth century.
When Europeans emigrated to North America in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a notable portion were Lutherans from
Scandinavia and Germany. They brought their Lutheran faith with them
and the churches they established not only used the Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, or German vernacular, but were also organized in ethnic synods.
Not until the twentieth century did a series of mergers bring about Lutheran
ecclesiastical bodies in the United States that transcended the various
European ethnic backgrounds.
The literature on the historical legacy of Martin Luther is extensive. I cite
the most important publications: Horst Stephan, Luther in den Wandlungen
seiner Kirche. 2nd edn. (Berlin: Töpelmann, 1951); Ernst Walter Zeeden, Martin Luther und die Reformation im Urteil des deutschen Luthertums.
Studien zum Selbstverst¨andnis des lutherischen Protestantismus von Luthers
Tode bis zum Beginn der Goethezeit. 2 vols. (Freiburg: Herder, 1950–52);
Heinrich Bornkamm, Luther im Spiegel der deutschen Geistesgeschichte. 2nd
edn. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970); Jaroslav J. Pelikan, ed., Interpreters of Luther (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968); A. G. Dickens and John
Tonkin, The Reformation in Historical Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985).
Ernst Heidrich, Albrecht Dürers schriftlicher Nachlass (Berlin: J. Bard, 1920), 95f.
Zeeden, Martin Luther, i:4ff. Cf. Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: The Preservation
of the Church 1532–1546, trans. James L. Schaaf (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,
1993), 378–82 and Robert Kolb, Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, and Hero:
Images of the Reformer, 1520–1620. Texts and Studies in Reformation and PostReformation Thought (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 34–37.
On Matthias Flacius Illyricus see Oliver K. Olson, Matthias Flacius and the
Survival of Luther's Reform (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000) and Olson, “Flacius
Illyricus, Matthias” in Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the
Reformation. 4. vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), ii:110–11.
Robert Kolb, Luther's Heirs Define His Legacy: Studies on Lutheran Confessionalization (Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1996).
A. J. F. Zieglschmid, ed., Die ¨alteste Chronikder Hutterischen Brüder (Ithaca, NY:
The Cayuga Press, 1943), 43.