Luther and the Jews Complete Paper


Martin Luther and the Jews

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements of the Course

CHS 662IZ  Luther

Dr. Marc Cortez

Matthew M. Thiesen

Box 178

History is full of heroes, men and women whose virtues are exemplary, whose deeds are awe-inspiring and memorable, and whose legacies are lasting.  They have achieved a “larger than life” persona in our societal consciousness.  Our society’s heroes stand as reminders of where we came from and who we are, challenging and encouraging us to keep pressing on in the great journey of life.

Unfortunately, there is oftentimes a serious side-effect to this “larger than life” status.  While the qualities that promoted them to societal awareness and memory are exulted and exemplified, we also usually lose sight of their all-too-human errors as well.  Their negative qualities are forgotten or brushed aside.  The real person is often left behind in the transition to the worthy position of “hero.”

The study of history reminds us that these men and women were still human, prone to error as well as good.  Aside from the GodMan, Jesus Christ, there have been no perfect heroes.  When we are aware of and understand their whole character, the good along with the bad, hopefully we will be able to learn both the positive as well as the negative lessons these heroes have to pass down to later generations.

For many people, Protestants especially, Martin Luther is a major hero of the Christian faith.  This legendary reformer is remembered and revered for his fearless stand against the corruption of the Late Medieval Catholic Church.  His uncompromising witness to the truth of the Gospel changed the course of the world.  His devotion to Christ and the Gospel is help up as an example for Protestant Christians’ emulation.

The study of history also shows, however, his many weaknesses.  He was physically quite unhealthy and prone to depression.  His anger combined with his rhetorical skills to produce blistering and coarse polemical tirades against his opponents.  While history praises his stubborn stand against Catholic corruption, it also laments the same characteristics when they lead to harsh arguments and schism with other reformers.  And of especial concern for post-Holocaust society, Luther is known for his anti-Semitism, which was later utilized by the Nazis.  This last concern, Luther’s view of the Jews, is the topic of this present study.

To begin, it is imperative that we attempt to understand Luther’s Jewish views in light of his own historical context.  In light of the present 20th/21st century context, the issue is greatly weighed down by the baggage of the Holocaust; Luther’s 16th century was similarly weighted by centuries of Medieval Christian “anti-Semitism.”  However, the two contexts are not analogous at all; the two periods had completely different worldviews.  Even what is meant by the term “anti-Semitism” is very different.[1]

The Reformation era is an intriguing period; Europe is still firmly caught up in the philosophy and culture of the Middle Ages.  And yet, Humanism and other Enlightenment ideas have begun to appear as well.  The famous Humanist, Erasmus, serves as a perfect case in point: known for his outstanding scholarship, desire for education reform and toleration, he also has no room for the Jew in his ideals.  He approvingly notes in a letter that France is the “purest blossom of Christianity, since she alone is uninfested with heretics, Bohemian schismatics, with Jews and with half-Jewish marranos.”[2] The toleration espoused by Erasmus was that of the intellectual, the exploration of ideas without threat of censure (or worse!) by the Church and/or the government.  The modern ideas of individual rights, of personal freedom regardless of race or creed, were unknown to Erasmus and his world.[3] His references to Jews and Judaism portray an anti-Judaism bias: in his polemical comments against “religious formalism and its host of prescriptions and proscriptions,” he sometimes inserted “Pharisee” as synonymous with “scholastic,” and likewise with “Judaic” for “legalistic.”[4]

Erasmus was not just an aberration either.  His views were roughly the same as those of the academic, intellectual world in which Luther worked.  Johannes Reuchlin was a textual scholar who became embroiled in controversy with the traditional scholastic establishment when he learned Hebrew and began arguing against the destruction of the Talmud and other Rabbinical works.  While he argued that Jews were, according to the law, co-citizens and their books therefore protected by law, he also still viewed them as adversaries of and under the judgment of God.  If they did not cease usurious activities and “improve,” they should be expelled.[5] Again, Reuchlin was arguing for a “tolerance” of research, the freedom to explore ideas, to enhance the Christian understanding of the Old Testament, not “toleration” according to modern concept.  While he defended the Talmud as legitimate for Christian research, he also viewed it as the primary obstacle to Jewish conversion.

The case of Johannes Pfefferkorn, a baptized Jew, is especially interesting.  Converting in 1505, he began publishing tracts in 1507 full of scorn for his past.  His goal was “to enlist the aid of Christians, notably princes and city fathers, in sweeping clear all obstacles that stood in the way of a Jewish conversion.”[6] He became involved in controversy not only with Reuchlin over the treatment of Talmudic literature, but, ironically, also with traditionalists for his harsh criticisms of Christians who believed and spread tales of Jewish ritual murders.  Later, the reformer Andreas Osiander agreed with Pfefferkorn and published his own refutation of popular blood ritual and similar stories, showing the absurdity and lack of evidence of the claims.[7]

Johannes Eck, a scholar known for his staunch opposition to Luther’s reformation, replied to both Osiander and Pfefferkorn, ridiculing them and furnishing “the anti-Jewish frenzy that was rife in the streets and pubs with a scientific basis, hence, credibility.”[8] As Mark Edwards comments, the alleged ritual murder stories illustrate well “the improbability of the charge of ritual murder, while at the same time it shows that even highly educated men such as Johann Eck firmly believed such libels.”[9] Ironically enough, Eck even blames Luther for the outbreak of the “Jewish evil” of Osiander and states that ““Luther-son” and “Jew-father” are just two sides of the same coin!”[10]

These are examples of scholarly attitudes toward the Jews from Luther’s 16th century context.  While not excusing Luther’s anti-Judaism, a comparison with his academic contemporaries does show a lack of any particular abnormality in Luther on this issue.  If anything, Eck’s firm belief in and support of the blood ritual libels places him perhaps further along the line of anti-Judaism than Luther.

As we attempt to grasp the 16th century Jewish context, it is important to understand the concept of Medieval Christendom.  Harking back to Constantine’s “Christian Empire” and the Greco-Roman society before that, religion and government were tied closely together.  Rejection of society’s religious beliefs was often seen as seditious and treason toward the state.  Additionally, almost all of society existed in an enmeshed state, “a society of corporations, of voluntary and involuntary communities bound together by mutual responsibility.”[11] An aberration in one segment of society was viewed as negatively affecting and contaminating the rest of society.

Amidst this “society of corporations,” only one group significantly stood out from the rest as almost completely separate (and this separateness continued to develop throughout the medieval era): the Jews.  Dietary laws kept Jews and Christians from sharing meals, religious convictions prevented intermarriage; even the basic work-week cycle differed on days for rest/worship and holidays.  As the Christian guilds slowly pressured Jews out of mainstream commerce and industry, many were forced into “disreputable” occupations, such as pawn-broking and money-lending.[12]

Due to their being forced out of most other occupations and their disregard for Catholic convictions, the financial industry became known for its high percentage of Jewish financers.  Usury, the charging of interest on loans, was considered a sin by the Catholic Church.  While there were Christian financers (the Fuggers, for example) as well, popular resentment against the “sinful, greedy, usurious Jews” became a staple attitude throughout medieval era Europe.

For these and other reasons, the Jews simply did not mesh with the rest of Christian society.  The Jew was often viewed as the bane of Christian society.  Stories of well-poisoning, desecrations of the Host, and Christian sacrifice and blood rituals abounded.  As previously mentioned, these libelous stories were commonly told and believed not only in the taverns by commoners, but also some of the elite as well.  Because of popular and political hostility, the Jews faced periodic persecution and expulsion throughout the medieval era.  Within the century preceding Luther’s reformational experiences, in fact, a wave of expulsions had forced the Jews out of many German cities and principalities with Electoral Saxony followed suit in 1536.[13]

The apocalyptic mindset of Luther will be discussed later, but as we attempt to define his context, it is worth mentioning here the apocalyptic mood of society in general.  Oberman notes: “The charges of exploitation and murder… were deeply rooted in the primordial fear that the Jews had joined forces with the apocalyptic powers.”[14] The Antichrist, it was commonly believed, would be either a Jew, or would find his first followers among the Jews.  Combined with the social and economic woes of the High and Late Middle Ages and the advancing menace of the Turks, Medieval society’s apocalyptic expectations and tensions were high.

In sum, Luther’s Jewish ideas did not appear in a vacuum; he was a product of his times.  And those times were not favorable toward the Jews.  Despite the stirrings of the coming Enlightenment, 16th century Europe was still heir to over a thousand years of social hostility toward Judaism.  There was no place in Christendom for the Jews, that stiff-necked people who rejected and killed their own Messiah.  It was within this world that Martin Luther developed his own opinions on the Jews.

Having set the contextual stage, we now move toward the drama of Luther’s own personal views.  While he makes brief references to the Jews in many of his works, there are four to five that specifically deal with the Jews.  The drama becomes quite complex, however, for there are two acts, an “early Luther” and a “late Luther.”  The challenge for historians has been in attempting to understand the apparent difference between the two.  And this “difference” is key, for the answer to this question directly effects one’s understanding of Luther’s overall attitude toward the Jews.

Luther published his work on the Jews in 1523, titled That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew.  The treatise was composed in response to rumors that charged him with rejecting the virgin birth of Christ and the perpetual virginity of Mary.  Never at a loss for things to say, Luther not only denied the charges, but took the opportunity to “also write something useful in addition.”[15] The tract has two main sections, the first setting forth Luther’s view, from Scripture, that Christ was born of a virgin, seed of Abraham, yet conceived via miracle.  The second section focuses on contemporary Jews: he expresses his hope for Jewish conversion and towards that end, encourages his fellow-Christians to treat the Jews with kindness and concludes with a theological apologetic for the Messiahship of Jesus Christ.

Of particular interest, especially in light of his later works, is Luther’s recommendation to “receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us.”[16] To be sure, Luther was not recommending acceptance of Judaism per se; his goal, clearly stated, was the conversion of the Jews.  Yet his advice on treating Jews “gently,” that they may “eventually” accept Jesus as their Messiah and Christianity, does appear peculiarly out of phase with the rest of his society.

Many years pass before anything of significance is again addressed to the Jewish issue.  It appears that Luther held a discussion with three educated Jews sometime prior to 1536, a discussion which filled him with much frustration.  Next, Josel of Rosheim, a prominent spokesman for the Jews, appealed to Luther in 1537 to influence John Frederick to appeal his expulsion order of the year before.  He declined to intervene, saying the Jews had taken advantage of his previous goodwill as expressed in the 1523 treatise.[17] Then in 1538, Luther published an open letter entitled Against the Sabbatarians, responding to news that Jews had been proselytizing and convincing some Christians that Jesus was not the Messiah, and to become circumcised and follow the Law.  Luther argued these and related points from Scripture and theology, showing the error of Jewish belief and exegesis.  Edwards notes, however, “his language is still, for the most part, temperate and restrained.”[18]

The current popular picture of Luther as an anti-Semite stems from his three treatises written in 1543: On the Jews and their Lies, On the Ineffable Name and on Christ’s Lineage, and On the Last Words of David.  “These three treatises are best understood as three parts of one major statement….  Together these treatises make up Luther’s last testament against the Jews and the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament.”[19] While these works still contain substantial theological and exegetical discourse, there is also a very hostile coarseness and scatological verbiage not used by Luther towards the Jews up to this point.  Luther’s infamous advice to burn Jewish synagogues, schools, houses, and Talmudic writings, among other recommendations[20] appears in On the Jews and their Lies, the largest of the three tracts.

Of the five “Jewish” works (including Against the Sabbatarians), it is interesting to note that none are addressed to the Jews themselves.  All are written to Christians, for their enlightened benefit and use in their relations with Jews.  Also, while some are more highly polemical (especially those of 1543), all contain significant theological exegesis and exposition portions.  Whether that theological content is consistent between the early and later writings is debated.

How should we understand the apparent difference between the Luther of 1523 and the Luther of 1543?  While there are a variety of theories, they generally fall under two main categories: (1) usually for psychological reasons, Luther simply changed his mind and/or attitude; or (2) there is a theological continuity alongside a change of practical outworking thereof.[21] There are also a host of considerations that must be explored before a judgment of any kind may be made.  Toward these concepts we now turn.

To begin, it is well known that Luther struggled with his health.  Throughout his reforming career, but especially during his last decade or so, his health was a serious issue.  He almost died (so he claimed) from heart congestion in 1527, and in 1532 he began suffering from kidney stones, which would continue to ail him for the rest of his life (he almost died from a severe case in 1537).  His death in 1546 was due to a heart attack.[22] Modern scholarship has also attempted to diagnose Luther as mentally ill.  While it is true he suffered occasional depression or Anfechtung, as he labeled it, the evidence for mental illness is less than persuasive.  Because of the exceptional high quality of some of Luther’s later writings, the charge of senility is not quite accurate either.[23] Edwards concludes:

His illnesses may have made him more irritable and less inhibited, but he had not lost complete control….  When all is said and done, the common description, and explanation, for the polemics of the older Luther—that they are the product of and ill and aged man—is not particularly illuminating historically.[24]

Another reason sometimes offered for Luther’s later change of attitude is a frustration over the lack of conversion among Jews.  While he did not expect a sudden, mass-conversion of all European Jews, he did expect some positive Jewish response to the “rediscovered” pure Gospel message.[25] As the popish nonsense and legalism that had covered over the Gospel message for the past millennia was removed, Luther saw no reason why anyone, Jew or Catholic, would choose to remain blind to the truth.  That the Jews (along with many Catholics!) did not accept only proved them to be tools and agents of the Devil.

As we attempt to set out Luther’s theology of the Jews, the effort, it must be admitted, is in some sense reductionistic.  As Oberman notes, “the Jews do not appear as an independent, autonomous theme in Luther’s theology.  From Luther’s point of view, there was no such subject as “Luther and the Jews.””[26] Still, it is helpful to survey some of Luther’s basic presuppositions toward the Jews that appear in his writings.

Even in the early years, Luther could comment negatively on the legalism and self-righteousness of the Jews.  “The reproaches had to do with the attempt to establish one’s own righteousness before God, with false trust in one’s own works, with “pride” that spurned the required “humility,” or with the attempt to strive after one’s own holiness.”[27] While these same charges were often leveled against the papists and fanatics as well, it is worth noting the negative Jewish criticism apparent in the early Luther.

As Luther continued his studies, he developed a love for the Old Testament Scriptures.  As such, he became very concerned to defend the continuity and connection between the Old and New Testaments.  Specifically, especially in the later years, he attacked any and all criticism of a “Christian” Christological reading of the Hebrew texts.  This brought him into sharp dispute with Jewish rabbis and rabbinical material.  Indeed, Edwards explains,

the primary target of these attacks [the 1543 treatises] was the way in which Jewish rabbis understood the Hebrew Scripture.  Luther interpreted the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible christologically and saw all promises by God in the Hebrew Bible as referring to Christ….  So the bulk of Luther’s anti-Jewish treatises consist of an elaborate attempt to dissuade fellow Evangelicals from employing rabbinic exegesis.[28]

In fact, Luther came to believe the rabbis were deliberately and knowingly distorting the truth, keeping their brethren away from the “plain” truth of Jesus their Messiah.[29]

Luther’s view of “Judaism” was likewise fairly critical.  Even in his earlier writings, he viewed Judaism, as a living, legitimate, God-approved “religion” as dead and ended with the death of Christ and the advent of the Church.  Amy Newman explains: “Judaism as a living religion had ceased to exist during the early Christian period, and the eventual disappearance of the Jews as a people—ideally through conversion—was an inevitability.”[30] Thus the Jews were stubbornly and mistakenly hanging onto an outdated faith, a now-false religion.  Through their disbelief and rejection of Jesus the Messiah, they had lost their favored status as “God’s chosen people.”  The loss of their land and nationhood for the past fifteen hundred years is proof that, as a religious entity, they have been cursed and abandoned by God.[31]

It has also been suggested that, within Luther’s theology, the Jew performs the role of a spiritual mirror, or a moral compass for society.  When Christians looked at the Jews, they view a people, formerly chosen and blessed by God, now bereft of hope (as a people; there is always hope in Christ).  The Jew serves as a moral social restraint for the Christian, seeing in the Jew the punishment and cursed state due him for his unrepentant sins.  As Betsy Amaru argues, Luther’s Jews were largely “unreal.”  Rather, their real significance is as powerful symbols:  “The Jew was a “witness” in positive terms, to the potential power of Christ; and in negative terms to the power of sin. In both forms the witness offered a reflection, one of man’s dreams, the other of his nightmares.”[32] Similarly, Oberman sees the Jews serving Luther as “prototypical “compass” for determining the devil’s points of penetration into the contemporary church.”[33]

The apocalyptic orientation of medieval society in general was mentioned above, yet this concern is much more acute within Luther’s thought.  For our purposes, it becomes significant both for the role the Jews played in Luther’s eschatology as well as the increased hostility of the later years.  While there is some debate over the extent of its role,[34] apocalyptic expectations and imagery certainly abound in Luther’s writings.

Oberman argues that to understand Luther, we must read his life “in the shadow of the chaos of the Last Days and the imminence of eternity.”[35] By his later years, Luther appears convinced the End was near and the lines between God’s obedient faithful and the Devil’s evil agents clearly drawn; he saw the signs of Daniel and Revelation all around him.  Daniel’s “kingdom of iron” was the Roman Empire, transferred to his contemporary German Empire; the papacy was the great antichrist, and the invading Turks were the small horn, the scourge of God, sent as punishment on Christendom for its sins and papal abominations.[36]

In light of these beliefs, Luther increasingly turned from writing tracts designed for outreach toward ones designed for “believers,” to strengthen the flock against both external (Turk and Catholic) threats as well as internal (fanatics/heretics and Jews, rather, Jewish exegesis) ones.  “The older Luther was largely done with cajoling his sinful Germans.  Like the prophets of old he excoriated them for their sins and declared God’s judgment on them.”[37]

The ferocity of Luther’s later attacks on Judaism must be seen within this apocalyptic mindset.  The unfettered Gospel had gone out, both to the Jews and the Catholics, but the time was quickly approaching to marshal the faithful, to defend against the attacks of the Devil and his minions.  While the tone of the 1538 Against the Sabbatarians is not yet quite hostile, the defensive entrenching has begun (in response to Jewish proselytizing, in this case).  By 1543, peace is at its end; Luther’s most vicious assaults occur during these final years, against both the Jews and Catholics.

Indeed, it is important to note that, in a certain sense, there is nothing special about Luther’s treatment of the Jews.  Throughout his career, he commonly listed the opponents of the Gospel as the papists, heretics, schismatics or fanatics (evangelical opponents), Jews, and Turks or variations thereof.  The vulgarity and scatological nature of the 1543 anti-Jewish treatises was even more so in the 1541 Against Hanswurst and the 1545 Against the Papacy at Rome.  Luther’s goal was to protect and prepare Evangelical Christendom for its struggle with the Devil and his minions: the popish antichrist, the Jews, and/or anyone else opposed to the true Gospel.  Toward this end, he engaged in combat with them all, utilizing his rhetorical and polemical skills to the utmost.

While Luther’s use of extreme scatological vulgarity is and was a source of embarrassment for his followers, it must be viewed in perspective.  Tjernagel pointedly compares Luther’s more coarse works to the English Sir Thomas More’s Response to Luther: “Suffice it to say that More’s language in this book and other essays against the Lutherans more than equaled the scatological vitriol of the angry essays of Luther’s later years.”[38] While excusing (or accusing) neither, it is worth noting that both men, highly acclaimed scholars and passionately firm in their convictions, saw fit to utilize that kind of language in their polemics.

A second perspective-rich comparison is that of Luther and his arch-rival, Eck.  While Luther’s polemics are clearly more coarse and vulgar in language, he only repeats some of the libelous blood ritual stories as hearsay, never stating their truth as fact.  Edwards comments: “A Horrible, Shocking Story [(anonymous)] and Eck’s Refutation of a Jew-Book, which employed more moderate language to express their attacks on Jews but which in their substance were more hostile and, from our perspective at least, more libelous than Luther’s works.”[39]

In conclusion, what may be said concerning Luther’s treatment of the Jews?  Several basic presuppositions are apparent.  First, he must be removed from the modern, post-holocaust world and replaced back in his own 16th century.  Luther’s anti-Judaism was hijacked by the Nazis and utilized for their racist anti-Semitism.  Second, as Oberman notes, the issue is much wider than just “Luther and the Jews:” Luther’s views on the Jews can only be understood (and judged!) in light of the 16th century world around him.[40] Third, as Edwards similarly argues, Luther’s later works should be compared to his earlier works in light of the different social, religious, and political pressures he found himself working in.[41]

It would appear to the present author that there is a certain continuity of theological conviction concerning the Jews and Judaism between the early and late Luther.  The increased irritability due to poor health, the frustration over the relative lack of Evangelical response, the heightened sense of apocalypticism, and the mired political nature of the reformation in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s must all be taken into consideration of Luther’s later works.  Yet, the theological status of the Jews does not appear to have changed, while, in Luther’s view, the societal and eschatological circumstances impacting the expectation for Jewish conversion did change.

In the end, Luther’s views and treatment of Jews and Judaism appear to have been inseparably linked with and based on the deep and wide-ranging anti-Judaism of the Middle Ages.  The medieval mindset unquestionably viewed the Jew as a threat to Christendom; while Luther’s concerns were more targeted toward Judaism as a religious entity (rabbinicism in particular), his basic worldview appears to be similar.

Perhaps the greatest lesson gained from this sobering study of “the Great Protestant Hero, Martin Luther” is the power and impact of our society and culture.  Despite the many qualities and convictions that deservedly earn him the title “hero of the faith,” his culture so shaped his thinking concerning Judaism that he could call for the official destruction and confiscation of Jewish property; not just synagogues and books, but homes and wealth as well.  In what ways are we blindly shaped by our culture today, to the detriment of our faith?  It is a question well worth thinking about.


Amaru, Betsy Halpern. “Martin Luther and Jewish Mirrors.” Jewish Social Studies 46, no. 2 (Spring84 1984): 95-102. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed August 20, 2009)

Edwards, Mark U. Jr.  Luther’s Last Battles.  Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1983

—            “Luther’s Polemical Controversies.”  The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther.  Edited by Donald K. McKim.  New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2003

Lohse, Bernhard.  Martin Luther’s Theology.  Translated by Roy A. Harrisville.  Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 1999

Luther, Martin.  “That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew.”  Translated by Walther I. Brandt.  In Luther’s Works.  Vol. 45, The Christian in Society II.  Edited by Walther I. Brandt.  Philadelphia, PA: Muhlenberg Press, 1962

—            “On the Jews and Their Lies.”  Translated by Martin H. Bertram.  In Luther’s Works.  Vol. 47, The Christian in Society IV.  Edited by Franklin Sherman.  Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1971

Newman, Amy. “The death of Judaism in German Protestant thought from Luther to Hegel.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 61, no. 3 (Fall93 1993): 455. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed August 20, 2009)

Oberman, Heiko A.  Luther:Man Between God and the Devil.  Translated by Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart.  New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2006

—            The Roots of Anti-Semitism.  Translated by James I. Porter.  Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984

Stephenson, Bret, and Susan Power Bratton. “Martin Luther’s Understanding of Sin’s Impact on Nature and the Unlanding of the Jew.” Ecotheology: Journal of Religion, Nature & the Environment 5, no. 9 (July 2000): 84. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed August 20, 2009)

Tjernagel, Neelak S.  Martin Luther and the Jewish People.  Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1985

[1] Since “anti-Semitism” is today inseparably linked with “racism,” a concept quite alien to the 16th century, I will prefer the term “anti-Judaism” to henceforth refer to Luther’s 16th century views.  See Tjernagel, Martin Luther and the Jewish People, 14-15, 75-76; Oberman, The Roots of Anti-Semitism, xi; Lohse, Martin Luther’s Theology, 338.

[2] As quoted in Oberman, Roots, 38.

[3] Ibid., 39.

[4] Oberman, Roots, 40.

[5] Ibid., 30.

[6] Ibid., 34-35.

[7] Ibid., 35.

[8] Oberman, Roots, 36.

[9] Edwards, Jr., Mark U. Luther’s Last Battles, 120.

[10] Oberman, Roots, 37.

[11] Edwards, Last Battles, 117.

[12] Edwards, Last Battles, 117.

[13] Ibid., 118; Tjernagel, Jewish People, 47.

[14] Oberman, Roots, 42.

[15] Luther, “That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew,” Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 45, 199.

[16] Luther, “Born a Jew,” Luther’s Works, vol. 45, 229.

[17] Edwards, Last Battles, 123-25

[18] Ibid., 125-27.

[19] Edwards, Last Battles, 128.

[20] Luther, “On the Jews and their Lies,” Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 47, 268-72.

[21] Edwards, Last Battles, 137.

[22] Ibid., 9.

[23] Tjernagel, Jewish People, 24.

[24] Edwards, Last Battles, 19.

[25] Ibid., 122-23; Tjernagel, Jewish People, 10-13; Lohse, Theology, 339-41

[26] Oberman, Roots, 72.

[27] Lohse, Theology, 339.

[28] Edwards, “Luther’s Polemical Controversies,” The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther, 203 (emphasis original).

[29] Lohse, Theology, 344.

[30] Newman, Amy, “The Death of Judaism in German Protestant Thought from Luther to Hegel,” Journal of American Academy of Religion, LXI/3, 457.

[31] Stephenson, Bret and Bratton, Susan Power, “Martin Luther’s Understanding of Sin’s Impact on Nature and the Unlanding of the Jew,” Ecotheology, 9 (2000), 94.

[32] Amaru, Betsy Halpern, “Martin Luther and Jewish Mirrors,” Jewish Social Studies, 46, no. 2, Spring 84 1984, 100.

[33] Oberman, Roots, 105.

[34] Lohse, Theology, 333.

[35] Oberman, Luther, Man between God and the Devil, 12.

[36] Edwards, Last Battles, 97-98.

[37] Ibid., 114.

[38] Tjernagel, Jewish People, viii.

[39] Edwards, Last Battles, 135.

[40] Oberman, Roots, 94.

[41] Edwards, Last Battles, 5.




  1. says

    Thanks for making this paper public. I am going to send it to a part of my congregation that is studying Luther. Although I read your paper quickly, I could see that you offer some context for Luther’s vitriole.

    I’m pastor of a small city congregation in Seattle
    Jami Fecher

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