A few years back, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta released Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger. One of Gary's arguments is that Luther was cornered in a debate and forced to deny the canonicity of the apocrypha (or deuterocanonicals). The picture above is from Gary's website. I guess it's supposed to highlight Luther's change of mind on this subject.
According to Mr. Michuta, before the Leipzig disputation against Eck, Luther accepted the Deuterocanon as authoritatively canonical (p.247-248). As proof, he notes "In 1518, Luther freely quoted Sirach and Tobit against his Catholic detractors; but by the following year, Luther's view of the Deuterocanon had taken a decidedly negative turn" (p. 248). The event of the following year provoking Luther's change was the Leipzig disputation. During the Leipzig Disputation, Eck cornered Luther by forcing him to deny the canonicty of 2 Maccabees. "Eck appealed to 2 Maccabees 12:46 as a clear and incontestable proof from Scripture that Purgatory exists" (p.249). He then quotes Luther responding "There is no proof of Purgatory in any portion of sacred Scripture, for the book of Maccabees not being in the Canon, is of weight with the faithful, but avails nothing with the obstinate" (249). Michuta concludes, "Like the Marcionites, Ebionities, and Gnostics before him, Luther's theological convictions determined what constituted the canonical Scriptures. Consequently, Maccabees could never be allowed full canonical authority because it contradicts Luther's theology" (p. 252). Luther simply pulled out Jerome's appeal to the smaller rabbinical Jewish canon in order to deny Purgatory. Reading between the lines, Michuta is arguing Luther is fundamentally dishonest and simply changed to the smaller canon to just pick and choose his theology.
I went through this argument in a previous blog entry. There I pointed out Luther was heavily schooled with the Glossa ordinaria. When commenting on the apocryphal books, this work prefixes this introduction to them: Here begins the book of Tobit which is not in the canon; here begins the book of Judith which is not in the canon' and so forth for Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, and Maccabees etc. The schooling Luther received informed his opinion on the canon. Even the Occamist influence in Luther's life would have probably informed him similarly. Michuta himself notes Occam held to the allowance of reading the apocrypha, but that the books were not canonical (p. 218).
As a follow up, I came across a few quotes about one of Luther's teachers, Jodocus Trutfetter (or Trutvetter) of Eisenach. I was correct, Luther did learn about the canon from his Nominalist teachers:
In a letter to Trutvetter Luther acknowledges that it was from him that he had first learned that the Christian faith must be based solely upon the canonical books of the Holy Scriptures and that all other writings must be critically studied (WA, Br 1, 171) [Willem Jan Kooiman, Luther and the Bible (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), p. 14]. [Reference to WA, Br 1 may be wrong]
[T]he two' men from whom Luther probably received the greater part of his theological and philosophical training, Bartholomew Arnoldi von Usingen and Jodocus Trutvetter of Eisenach, appear to have lived on friendly terms with the humanists, who were half-unconsciously their irreconcilable foes. Both were teachers in the philosophical faculty, and both, though tinged with classical learning, remained at the old standpoint of thought Usingen, perhaps the more conservative of the two, was an Augustinian, and so, after a time, brought into peculiarly close relations with Luther. His works, especially an exposition of Donatus, though written in a barbarous style, were full of illustrative quotations from Latin authors. Trutvetter best represented the orthodox speculation of the University. He was known, par excellence, as the Doctor of Erfurt. Luther calls him the first dialectician of the age. In 1507 he was invited to Wittenberg, where he taught for some years, returning to Erfurt in 1510. He was a Nominalist of the school of Occam, and at the same time a leader of the party who called themselves "moderns," in opposition to the "ancients": men, that is, who were not deterred by respect for old traditions from the attempt to improve existing textbooks and to carry forward their science into new fields of thought. His numerous works prove his acquaintance with classical, though chiefly Latin, authors, and the young humanists, with whom he lived on friendly terms, adorned them with commendatory verses. The most characteristic thing that we know of him is that he taught Luther to distinguish between the faith due to the Canonical books of Scripture and the free judgment that might be applied to others. Even so late as May 1518, some months after the publication of the Ninety five Theses, Luther writes to him in the friendliest terms, if not in the expectation of winning his support, at least hoping to disarm his opposition (De W. vol. i pp 107, 127) [source]
Jodocus Trutfetter, Luther's old professor at the University of Erfurt, heard from him, " You have been the first to teach me that we must read the canonical books with faith, all others with discernment." (Luther's letter to Trutfetter, May 9, 1518, Brief wechsel, I, No. 77, p. 187) [source]Mr. Michuta has responded to a number of my aomin blog entries, but as far as I know, he's not written a word about any of my Luther entries that were based on his book.
The approach I take is the exact opposite of Michuta. I consider Luther fundamentally honest on this issue. He denied the authority of 2 Maccabees to establish doctrine because that was simply how he was trained as a theologian, and he followed a tradition which denied the apocrypha authority to establish doctrine. Luther in fact provides detailed opinions of the apocryphal books in his biblical prefaces. I see no reason to grant that his entire opinion suddenly shifted because of Eck at Leipzig. Luther quoted from the Deuterocanonicals throughout his entire career, in a manner consistent with the views expressed in his Biblical prefaces.