Printing, Propaganda, and Martin Luther

By Mark U. Edwards Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Contested Authority in
the Strasbourg Press

One of the greater ironies of the early Reformation is that within months of having published a series of blistering attacks on Luther and his teachings on the Lord's Supper, Luther's onetime professorial colleague and fellow reformer, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, and his family sought and received sanctuary in Luther's own house. Expelled from Electoral Saxony the previous year, Karlstadt had been unable to find a secure refuge, and in the months leading up to his return he had been harried from place to place by the Peasants' War. Luther could provide temporary asylum, but the Saxon princes had to be persuaded to lift their order of expulsion. As their price for his remaining in Electoral Saxony, Karlstadt had to issue an Explanation of How Karlstadt Regards and Wishes His Teaching On the Highly Revered Sacrament and Other Matters To Be Regarded, for which Luther provided a foreword.1

In the late summer of 1525 this forced recantation arrived in Strasbourg and was quickly reprinted by the presses of Johann Prüß and Johann Knobloch. Both printings started with Luther's uncompromising foreword, which put his own harsh interpretation on Karlstadt's Explanation. Accompanying the Prüß edition, however, was a concluding Admonition to Peace regarding the Indicated Matter, that is, the quarrel over the Lord's Supper. Its anonymous author—we now know that it was the Strasbourg humanist and reformer Wolfgang Capito—attempted to put an interpretation quite different from Luther's on this document's significance.2 It is in the odd juxtaposition

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