Martin Luther Quotes

Does anyone know what the original date and source for these quotes by Martin Luther? I see them quoted often in books and on line, but haven’t reference seen the original source materials (i.e., one of his letters, books, speeches or sermons). Thanks in advance!

“This one will not hear of Baptism, and that one denies the sacrament, another puts a world between this and the last day: some teach that Christ is not God, some say this, some say that: there are as many sects and creeds as there are heads. No yokel is so rude but when he has dreams and fancies, he thinks himself inspired by the Holy Ghost and must be a prophet”(citation: De Wette III, 61. quoted in O’Hare, The Facts About Luther, 208.)

“Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers.” (**citation: **Walch XIV, 1360. quoted in O’Hare, Ibid, 209.)

As to the first quote:

“This one will not hear of Baptism, and that one denies the sacrament, another puts a world between this and the last day: some teach that Christ is not God, some say this, some say that: there are as many sects and creeds as there are heads. No yokel is so rude but when he has dreams and fancies, he thinks himself inspired by the Holy Ghost and must be a prophet”(citation: De Wette III, 61. quoted in O’Hare, The Facts About Luther, 208.)

The source is *to the Christians at Antwerp * April, 1525, “Werke,” Weim. ed., 18, p. 547 ; Erl. ed., 53, p. 342 " Briefwechsel," 5, p. 151

For more information on this quote, see this link.

Regards,
James Swan

The second quote: “Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers.” (citation: Walch XIV, 1360. quoted in O’Hare, Ibid, 209.)

For information about Walch’s version of Luther’s works, see this link, page 239.

The quote is: “Die Bauern und der Adel kennen das Evangelium besser denn St. Paul und Dr. Martin Luther, sie sind klug nnd dunken eieh heuser denn alle ihre Pfarrherrn”

It is roughly translated as:

“Peasants and noblemen know the Evangelium better than St. Paul and Dr. Martin Luther , they are clever and think themselves better than their pastors.”

“Now everybody, anybody, knows the Gospel better than Dr. Luther, or even St. Paul himself. Nobles, citizens, peasants, despise the pastors of God, or rather the God and Master of pastors.”

“Nobles, citizens, peasants, I might add almost all men, think they know the Gospel better than Dr. Luther or St. Paul himself; and look down on pastors, rather on the Lord and Master of pastors…”

D. Martin Luthers Brophezeiung mach dem Ubfcheiden des Churfurften Johannes

August 1532.

It appears to be a Tabletalk utterance, so not a reliable account of exactly what luther said.

Regards,
James Swan

Thank you, James, for your gracious and helpful reply.

Re: the second quotation: Why would a “Tabletalk utterance” be unreliable?

Table Talk are broad collections of quotes taken from friends and associates of Luther based on anecdotal conveyance and best recollections. Some versions of the publication have been stripped and censored of the mans more vulgar words by his supporters who did not want their audience to know just how vile and vulgar the man really was. A lot of the other quotes came right out of his own speeches or letters etc. and can be taken as more verifiable since they are direct writings.

Here is an online link to the entire works:
reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/documents/Table_talk/table_talk.html

Here is a blurb from the intro:

The contents of the book themselves were gathered from the mouth of Luther, by his friends and disciples, and chiefly by Antony Lauterbach and John Aurifaber (Goldschmidt), who were very much with the great Reformer towards the close of his life. They consist of notes of his discourses, of his opinions, his cursory observations, in the freedom of private friendship, in his walks, during the performance of his clerical duties, and at table. The reporters were brim-full of zeal: whatever “the man of God” uttered was forthwith entered upon their tablets. They were with him at his uprising and his down-lying; they looked over his shoulder as he read or wrote his letters; did he utter an exclamation of pain or of pleasure, of joy or of sorrow, down it went: did he aspirate a thought above breath, it was caught by the intent ear of one or other of the listeners, and committed to paper. An anecdote, told by Luther himself to Dr. Zinegreff, amusingly illustrates the assiduity of these German Boswells. During a colloquy, in which Dominus Martinus was exhibiting his wonted energetic vivacity, he observed a disciple hard at work with pencil and paper. The doctor, slyly filling his huge wooden spoon with the gruel he was discussing by way of supper, rose, and going up to the absorbed notetaker, threw the gruel in his face, and said, laughingly lustily: “Put that down too.” There can be as little doubt of the completeness as of the authenticity of their notes. Filled with the most profound respect for “the venerable man of God,” they would have deemed it sacrilege to omit, or alter, or modify, aught that fell from his lips. The oracle had spoken; it was their pride and glory to repeat his words with the most scrupulous fidelity. We will describe the result, in the words of an eloquent letter to the translator, prefixed to the folio edition of 1652;

James

I’m actually not sure if it’s a Table talk statement or not. The footnote on the bottom of the Google Books page needs to be translated (note the “*” in the title of the writing, and follow it down to the footnote). Perhaps someone here can translate it, it’s not all that long.

Generally speaking, the Table talk isn’t the first place to go to when studying Luther, because he didn’t write it. It can really only be used to corroborate something Luther actually wrote. Those who tend to want to attack Luther use the Tabletlak without conscience.

JS

It is true that during the history of the Tabletalk, there have been instances in which it was “cleaned up” by zealous defenders. On the other hand, the version now available to English readers, contained in LW 54 is very reliable, and is based on extensive documentary evidence. They made sure to include controversial material.

As to Luther being “vile and vulgar” as proved by the Table talk, I’d offer the opinion of one of Luther’s most hostile Catholic critics, Hartmann Grisar. He held that Luther was “improper rather than obscene, coarse rather than lascivious.” Commenting on the Table talk, Grisar states:

“We may peruse many pages of the notes without meeting anything in the least offensive but much that is both fine and attractive.… Much of what was said was true, witty, and not seldom quite edifying.”

James Swan

Here’s just a few more thoughts on the second quote:

Noblemen, townsmen, peasants, all classes understand the Evangelium better than I or St. Paul; they are now wise and think themselves more learned than all the ministers." (citation: Walch XIV, 1360. quoted in O’Hare, Ibid, 209.)

Previous to the quote, Luther says something like, “Denmark will now be punished, including Venice, the Frankish nobility also been punished.” The punishment appears to be for the people despising any authorities who have knowledge of the scriptures.

The beginning of the document is about Luther’s concerns for the newly in charge John Frederick over Electoral Saxony. During these months of 1532, Luther was concerned for the state of the church, and expressed this to John Frederick. Pastors were being treated poorly (including financially). The nobles as well as the peasants showed little respect for the pastors. Luther interpreted this lack of respect as an evidence for the last days. The gospel would be attacked on all fronts, and then the end will come. A remnant will be saved. The document, as far as I can ascertain reflects these concerns.

If you do an Internet search on the use of this quote, you’ll note it’s polemically used to describe the devastating results of sola scriptura. O’Hare uses it to prove, “…Luther himself testifies to the utter failure of the cardinal principle of his so-called Reformation.” What O’Hare fails to do though, is interpret Luther’s understanding of the Gospel and sola scriptura in his eschatological framework.

James Swan

It’s Sunday, so I’ll let dead dogs lie and not quote other of his period Catholic critics who used the man’s own vernacular to more poignantly describe a Heuchler so impudent to actually boast of his ordering the murder of thousands of his peasant supporters. I would like to find a period quote as well to express the popular feelings of the peasants who suspected that Luther would sell them out to the nobles – especially after Luther confirmed it in his quick acceptance of the Black Cloister[sup]1[/sup] (his prior Catholic Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg taken over by the nobles as part of Luther’s “reformation”). It was given to him as a wedding gift from the nobility ( John Frederick) for doing his part in the revolution. Luther quickly made it his personal manor home where he raised children with his new wife (ex-nun Katie).

[sup]note 1[/sup]Martin Luther - Father of the Revolution by Barbara A. Somervill

James

I probably won’t get involved in such a discussion as to Luther’s character over here anyway. I know many Catholics (and Protestants) have painted a scathing picture of Luther. Others have not.

If you have any information about the two quotes mentioned in this thread, I look forward to the benefits of your research. If not, well, then there isn’t much more to talk to about in this thread.

I put together a little something on the second quote.

Regards, James Swan

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Regards, James Swan

Why not James? Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will know them”. Let’s talk very seriously about his character and everything he said. After all, he’s the figurehead of quite a few of the 33,000 + non-Catholic denominations. It’s very important that he should stand up under intense scrutiny.

Because I don’t have any desire to dialog with someone who states, “Thanks Martin Luther, you king of idiots!”.

I think it would be nearer the truth to say you’re incapable of dialogue on this issue. But, I’ll happily leave it at that.

Paul,

Since I don’t know you, and you certainly do not know me, such a statement is mean spirited. If indeed your method of discourse involves calling historical figures idiots, and your parting comments to someone you don’t even know is slanderous, how motivated do you think a complete stranger would be to get to know you and correspond with you here on the Catholic Answers website?

Here are a few of my favorite Martin Luther quotes on Mary:

“Christ…was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mother bore no more children besides Him…‘brothers’ really means ‘cousins’ here, and Holy Writ and the Jews have always called cousins brothers” [Sermons on John: Chap. 1-4]

“The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart” [Sermon: Sept. 1, 1522]

“The infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin…From the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin” [Sermon: “On the day of the Conception of the Mother of God”].

“We can never honor her enough. Still, honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures” [Sermon: Christman, 1531]

“Whoever possesses a good faith says the Hail Mary without danger” [Sermon: March 11, 1523].

All quotations taken from: ‘Bible Basics’ by Steve Kellmeyer (pages 260-261)

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