Saturday, September 24, 2011

Luther: Sleeping in the Snow?

Here's one that just happened to scroll by in the Prosapologian chat channel- someone mentioned that as a monk, Martin Luther slept out in the snow. Now for most people such a comment would simply pass by. But as I thought back through all the stuff I've read on Luther, I simply couldn't recall this fact.

Indeed, Luther did claim "I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work." So I started digging around a bit, and while I couldn't find any actual helpful sources to document this fact, I found the following versions of this tale:



[source]


"As a young monk Luther was obsessed with atoning for his sins and went through vast lengths to punish himself. This ranged from extreme self denial and physical and mental tests to self flagellation. One such punishment consisted of lying in the snow, through the night at the height of winter until he would have to be carried back inside" [source] [source].

"These included fasting, manual labour and could include sleeping on hard benches, without any blankets on or in Luther's case sleeping or lying out in the snow" [source]

"Did you know...that as a young monk in Erfurt Luther was obsessed with atoning for his sins and went to ridiculous lengths to punish himself. This ranged from extreme self-denial and self- flagellation. One night, at the height of winter, he was found lying in the snow and had to be carried back inside the convent" [quote]

"In the monastery Luther was scrupulously obedient. He fasted. He prayed. He was diligent in his work. He sometimes slept in the snow without a blanket in order to mortify his flesh, so that he might be more pleasing to God" [source]

Now there may indeed be some sort of documentation for this tale, but in the 30 minutes or so I looked for it, I came up with nothing. If it does exist, my guess would be it's a Table talk statement. On the other hand, that some of the main biographies of Luther I checked don't mention it, this makes me just a bit suspicious that perhaps it's yet another Internet myth. That the story has multiple versions also is suspicious.

If anyone has any sort of documentation, please leave a comment.

9 comments:

PeaceByJesus said...

I searched, including many many online books, but like you i found no documentation, though i think the story goes back to much before the Internet.

I do find PBS asserting he sanctioned drunkenness and adultery, likewise undocumented, and which must help them to rationalize such.

James Swan said...

I do find PBS asserting he sanctioned drunkenness and adultery, likewise undocumented, and which must help them to rationalize such.

See:PBS Presents “Facts” That Luther Advocated Drunkenness and Promiscuity

Lvka said...

I think you're cleverly avoiding the main questions here, James:

1) With whom did he sleep in the snow?

and, more importantly:

2) Would Protestantism exist today if instead of an extreme Jain-like form of asceticism, Luther would have practiced a more moderate one (similar to the Buddhist doctrine of the 'Middle Way') ?

:-\

PeaceByJesus said...

Lvka, are you serious?

Luther sleeping with someone in the snow, while practicing a Jain-like form of asceticism (perhaps rcvd from some holiness Pentecostals)?

The desperate attempts of RC apologetic increasingly argues against them.

De Maria said...

PeaceByJesus said...
Lvka, are you serious?

Luther sleeping with someone in the snow, while practicing a Jain-like form of asceticism (perhaps rcvd from some holiness Pentecostals)?

The desperate attempts of RC apologetic increasingly argues against them.


Judging from Martin's own writings, it would seem the Protestant apologetics is increasingly desperate:
PeaceByJesus said...

“One spouse may rob and withdraw himself or herself from the other and refuse to grant the conjugal due or to associate with the other. One may find a woman so thickheaded that it means nothing to her though her husband fall into unchasteness ten times. Then it is time for the man to say: If you are not willing, another woman is; if the wife is not willing, bring on the maid. But this is only after the husband has told his wife once or twice, warned her, and let it be known and rebuked before the congregation. If she still does not want to comply, then dismiss her; let an Esther be given you and allow Vashti to go, as did King Ahasuerus.” [Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, entry 2811]

This is posted on this website.

Sincerely,

De Maria

James Swan said...

This is posted on this website. Sincerely, De Maria

I don't see your comment as sincere at all. I say that because of your selective citation of my entry and what Ewald Plass went on to say (as cited in the entry of mine you cited):

Biographer Ewald Plass notes of this quote, “The words, ‘If the wife is not willing, bring on the maid’ have been notoriously misconstrued by having been quoted out of context. As the following words clearly show, Luther is thinking of a separation and a remarriage, not a sort of concubinage.” [Ewald Plass, What Luther Says II:901, footnote 20]. This is substantiated by a similar statement from Luther in the same year in the treatise, ‘The Estate of Marriage’.

Joe said...

It truly is amazing how many times Luther is quoted out of context.

Recently had a discussion with a RC where he tried to show that Luther tried to "change" the bible.

Everyone one of his quotes (from Ohare) were out of context or a mistranslation or even showed the exact opposite. (thanks Mr. Swan for providing all you do here)

For the sake of Christ, and the love of man...I think the misrepresentations of other Christians, or anyone for that matter, is sinful, and considered libel.

Sorry for the vent.

in Him,

Joe

De Maria said...

James Swan said...
This is posted on this website. Sincerely, De Maria

I don't see your comment as sincere at all. I say that because of your selective citation of my entry and what Ewald Plass went on to say (as cited in the entry of mine you cited):

Biographer Ewald Plass notes of this quote, “The words, ‘If the wife is not willing, bring on the maid’ have been notoriously misconstrued by having been quoted out of context. As the following words clearly show, Luther is thinking of a separation and a remarriage, not a sort of concubinage.” [Ewald Plass, What Luther Says II:901, footnote 20]. This is substantiated by a similar statement from Luther in the same year in the treatise, ‘The Estate of Marriage’.


Have you not read in Scripture:
Matthew 5:32
King James Version (KJV)
32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

This is the behaviour you are defending.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Sorry, I keep forgetting to check that little box in order to get the email followup.

De Maria