THE GERMAN EDITION
THIS BOOK has grown out of the lectures and seminars on Luther's theology which I have held regularly at the Universities of Rostock and Erlangen since the early 1920's. Many of the studies made in preparation for these lectures and many of my essays on Luther, particularly those which were presented to conferences of the Luther-Gesellschaft during the past decades, have—with considerable alteration—become part of this book.
My purpose in this book is the same as in my lectures, to present a comprehensive overview of the basic elements of Luther's theological work. I have not undertaken to summarize the results of “Luther research” or even to contribute to it through presenting the results of my own special investigations. And I have only occasionally entered into an explicit discussion of the results of this research. It has not been possible for me to follow and evaluate completely the vast number of studies on Luther's theology now being produced by Evangelical scholars as well as increasing numbers of Roman Catholic scholars—although I think that I am familiar with the most important of these studies. As a result the bibliographical references in the individual chapters are quite modest and incomplete.
I have tried to present a living picture of Luther's theology on the basis of my own ongoing study of the sources, and so to present this picture that it will be fruitful for theological study—and thereby also fruitful for the proclamation of the gospel in our time. This book was not written for specialists, but is directed to the broad range of theologians and pastors and, beyond them, to all who are in any way engaged in the ministry of the word and desire to use what they learn from Luther in their ministry.
I thus did not undertake a historical description of the development of Luther's thought The formative period of Luther's theology, together with all the important questions connected with it, has not been considered. The development of his thought from