His contempt for Holy Scripture does not end at just the book of James, but also extends to attacking even the book of Esther and Jonah in the Hebrew Bible, which he supposedly based his version of the Bible on for the Old Testament. Here are his words on the matter: “The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish foolishness.” (‘The Facts About Luther’, O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p202) And also: “The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible.” (Ibid.) Are we not surprised therefore that Lutheranism was the first to succumb to the blasphemous and ridiculous theories of Higher and Lower Criticism, and also to find her priests wanting to eliminate both James and Revelation? Let us not forget the earlier example of the Lutheran pastor/priest who stated on a radio program that both the Epistle of James and the Apocalypse/Revelation should be eliminated from our Bible. They are only following their wicked founder! Luther has in fact incurred God’s anathema on himself already. Many of these modern day Lutherans have become twice the sons of hell than Luther. Let us be warned.
This blog entry is going to cover Shoebat's Jonah quote. For responses to Shoebat.com on Luther's view of James and Revelation, see these links: Luther: We should throw the Epistle of James out of this school [Wittenberg] and Luther on Revelation: "I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it."
Shoebat.com cites this Luther quote from: "The Facts About Luther’, O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p202." I've mentioned this book often throughout the years (it has been a perpetual source of propaganda for Rome's defenders). In an earlier paper, I documented Father O’Hare's analysis of Luther: Luther was crazy, depraved, and corrupt. He was in contact with Satan. He lived indecently and sanctioned adultery. He dishonored marriage and authorized prostitution and polygamy. He was a drunkard blasphemer, and a revolutionary. To learn more about Father O'Hare, see this link. For this present quote, O'Hare states:
But even for the books he chose to retain, he showed little or no respect. Here are some examples of his judgments on them. Of the Pentateuch he says: "We have no wish either to see or hear Moses." "Judith is a good, serious, brave tragedy." "Tobias is an elegant, pleasing, godly comedy." "Ecclesiasticus is a profitable book for an ordinary man." "Of very little worth is the book of Baruch, whoever the worthy Baruch may be." "Esdras I would not translate, because there is nothing in it which you might not find better in Aesop." "Job spoke not as it stands written in his book; but only had such thoughts. It is merely the argument of a fable. It is probable that Solomon wrote and made this book." "The book entitled 'Ecclesiastes' ought to have been more complete. There is too much incoherent matter in it. It has neither boots nor spurs; but rides only in socks as I myself did when an inmate of the cloister. Solomon did not, therefore, write this book, which was made in the days of the Maccabees of Sirach. It is like a Talmud, compiled from many books, perhaps in Egypt at the desire of King Evergetes." "The book of Esther I toss into the Elbe. I am such an enemy to the book of Esther that I wish it did not exist, for it Judaizes too much and has in it a great deal of heathenish naughtiness." "The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible." "The first book of the Maccabees might have been taken into the Scriptures, but the second is rightly cast out, though there is some good in it."O'Hare provides no exact documentation for these quotes. He does say on page 201-202, "In his prefaces to these books [the apocrypha] he gives at length his opinion as to their character and authority," and then a little later, "But even for the books he chose to retain, he showed little or no respect. Here are some examples of his judgments on them." The assumption therefore, is that these comments come from Luther's Prefaces to the books of the Bible. When one looks at the Prefaces though, the quote is not there. The statement appears to find its genesis in the Table Talk. The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death. O'Hare probably didn't mine these quotes out of Luther's writings. The Jonah quote, for instance, had been circulating in polemical writings since at least 1834.
There are actually two Prefaces to Jonah, one from 1526, and one from 1532. Neither of these documents contains the quote cited by Father O'Hare, so the Table Talk is probably the culprit. For this Jonah quote, the source used originally may have been the text that now exists in WA TR 3:550- 551 (it was probably an earlier edition of Luther's works used). If so, it would have been from a comment made in January 1538 recorded by Anthony Lauterbach:
English versions are found in various 19th century editions of the Table Talk. This translation dates from 1818, so the quote was most certainly around in English previous to O'Hare's use. The most popular English translation was probably that put forth by William Hazlitt. More recently, James Limburg did truncated version of it in his Jonah Commentary. Below, I'm going to provide these translations.
1. Joseph Kerby (1818)
Of the Prophet Jonah. The majesty of the Prophet Jonah is worthy to be advanced. He hath but four chapters, and yet he moved therewith the whole kingdom, therefore under weakness he was justly a figure and a sign of the Lord Christ. Indeed it is surprising, that Christ should remember this but only in four words. Moses likewise, with few words describeth the creation, the histories of Abraham, and such great mysteries; but he spendeth much time about describing the tent, the external sacrifices, the kidneys and excrements, for he saw that the world greatly esteemed outward things which they beheld with their carnal eyes; but that which was spiritual they soon forgot. This history of the prophet Jonah is so great, that it is almost incredible; yea, it soundeth more strange than any of the poets' fables; and if it stood not in the Bible, I should take it for a lie; for consider, how for the space of three days he was in the great belly of the whale, whereas in three hours he might have been digested and changed into the nature, flesh and blood of that monster; may not this be said, to live in the midst of death? In comparison of this miracle, that wonderful passage through the Red Sea was nothing. But what appeareth more strange is, that after he was delivered, he then began to be angry, and to expostulate with a gracious God, touching a small matter, not worth a straw. It is a great mystery; I am ashamed of my exposition upon this Prophet, in that I so weakly touch the main point of this wonderful miracle.(source)
2. William Hazlitt (1848)
The majesty of the prophet Jonah is surpassing. He has but four chapters, and yet he moved therewith the whole kingdom, so that in his weakness, he was justly a figure and a sign of the Lord Christ. Indeed, it is surprising, that Christ should recur to this but in four words. Moses likewise, in few words describes the creation, the history of Abraham, and other great mysteries; but he spends much time in describing the tent, the external sacrifices, the kidneys and so on; the reason is, he saw that the world greatly esteemed outward things, which they beheld with their carnal eyes, but. that which was spiritual, they soon forgot. The history of the prophet Jonah is almost incredible, sounding more strange than any poet's fable; if it were not in the Bible, I should take it for a lie; for consider, how for the space of three days he was in the great belly of the whale, whereas in three hours he might have been digested and changed into the nature, flesh and blood of that monster; may not this be said, to live in the midst of death? In comparison of this miracle, the wonderful passage through the Red Sea was nothing. But what appears more strange is, that after he was delivered, he began to be angry, and to expostulate with the gracious God, touching a small matter not worth a straw. It is a great mystery. I am ashamed of my exposition upon this prophet, in that I so weakly touch the main point of this wonderful miracle. [source]
3. James Limburg (1993)
But this story of the prophet Jonah is so great that it is almost unbelievable, yes it even sounds like a lie, and more full of nonsense than any poet's fable. If it were not in the Bible, I'd consider it a silly lie. Because if one thinks about it, Jonah was three days in the huge belly of the whale, where he could have been digested in three hours and changed into the flesh and blood of the whale. He could have died three hundred times, under the earth, in the sea, inside the whale. Isn't that living in the midst of death? In comparison with this miracle [source]
Back in the 1800's, a defense of this quote was provided by Julius Charles Hare in response to an article by The Edinburgh Review. The author says of this quote:
On the book of Jonah the Reviewer makes Luther say, "The history of Jonah is so monstrous, that it is absolutely incredible." Verily the misrepresentation in these words is so monstrous as to be almost incredible. True, Luther is represented in the Tabletalk as saying those words; and he goes on thus (p. 2096): "yea, it sounds like a lie, and more extravagant than any fable of the poets; and if it did not stand in the Bible, I should laugh at it as a lie. For if one thinks about him, how he was three days in the great belly of the fish, where in three hours he might have been digested and turned into the substance of the fish: here he might have died a hundred times, under the earth, in the sea, in the fish, etc. Is not this to live in the midst of death? so that beside this miracle that in the Red Sea is nothing. And how oddly it turns out. After he is delivered and saved, he begins to rage and to grumble and to vex himself for the sake of a little thing, namely, a herb. It is a great mystery: I am ashamed of my interpretation of this prophet, that I have treated the main action and purpose of the miracle so weakly." So that the greatness of the miracle, instead of making Luther doubt its truth, as the Reviewer by his shamefully garbled quotation accuses him of doing, is merely magnified by Luther to shew the fullness of his faith in it." [source]Shoebat.com says that this quote is an example of Luther "attacking" the book of Jonah. Rather though, if one reads the quote in context, Luther concludes with a deep reverence for the book: "I am ashamed of my exposition upon this prophet, in that I so weakly touch the main point of this wonderful miracle." That isn't an attack. The entire snippet is a demonstration of the power of God's word- that the heart of faith will believe what it says, even if it seems against nature and reason.