Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Luther Added the Word "Free" to Romans 3:28?

This is a follow-up to my earlier critiques of Shoebat's Martin Luther- The Bare Truth Unfolded. Their recent hit piece includes some Luther quotes I've never gone into detail on or have never covered, or deserve a fresh look. For instance, they state that Luther added the word "free" to Romans 3:28:

Deliberate adding of the word ‘free’ to Romans 3:28 along with deliberate, Satanic arrogance in elevating himself above even the Holy Fathers and Holy Apostles! 

The very thought of excising from the Word of God should already cause one to cringe in disgust and make one wary of the eternal consequences. It should cause one to cringe even more to add to the Word of God as well. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for Martin Luther. Martin Luther in a deliberate attempt to support lawlessness in the Christian life, deliberately added the word “free” to his German bible, despite the fact that there is no serious evidence for this in the Greek text of the New Testament. To this he stated as his reasons for his deliberate distortion: 
“If your Papist annoys you with the word [‘alone’-Romans 3:28], tell him straightaway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by; the devil’s thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is doctor above all doctors in Popedom.” (Amicable Discussion, I, 127, ‘The Facts About Luther’, O’Hare, TAN Books (1987), p201)
Now you may be as puzzled by this "free" comment as I am.  The Shoebat article says twice that Luther added "free." The first time it says it was added to Romans 3:28, the second time to his German Bible. Then they proceed to provide a quote from Luther on his use of the word "alone" in Romans 3:28. Giving Shoebat.com the benefit of the doubt,  it appears to me that whoever put this article together was chugging along at a brisk pace and meant "alone" but was thinking "free." I'm going to assume that's the case.

This "free" blunder aside, the Shoebat snippet provides the opportunity to revisit the popular Luther quote they use.  In terms of polemics, this is probably one of the most famous quotes of Luther. It's been used by his detractors throughout the centuries. Even though the context of this quote is easily available, the documentation provided by Shoebat.com turns out to be an example of nineteenth century Roman Catholic plagiarism.

Documentation of Father O'Hare's Plagiarism
Shoebat.com cites "Amicable Discussion, I, 127, ‘The Facts About Luther’, O’Hare, TAN Books (1987), p201)." I don't think the article used either of these sources, but perhaps cut-and-pasted the quote from Luther, Exposing the Myth (see footnote 62).  Yes, the quote is in The Facts About Luther on page 201. O'Hare writes,
Romans III, 28, "We account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law" he renders by the interpolating of a word, "We hold that a man is justified without works of the law by faith alone." His answer to Emser's exposition of his perversion of the text was: "If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), tell him straightway: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so: Papist and ass are one and the same thing. Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom." (Amic. Discussion 1, 127.) Thus Luther defends his perversion of Scripture and makes himself the supreme judge of the Bible. His work, faulty and erroneous, places the true Lutheran in a serious dilemma. He needs the Bible for his salvation and yet he cannot be sure that Luther has given him a version possessing any binding force.
Rather than directly citing Luther, O'Hare cites "Amic. Discussion 1, 127." This refers to Jean François Marie Trévern, An Amicable Discussion on the Church of England and on the Reformation in General vol. 1. Various editions of  this nineteenth century text are available online. I've had a copy of this book for over a decade. When it arrived all those years ago, I recall thumbing through it attempting to check O'Hare's references. I was never able to locate this O'Hare-cited Luther quote in An Amicable Discussion. Now with so many old books available on-line,  I searched through a number of editions of An Amicable Discussion, and still could not find this quote as cited by O'Hare.

Father O'Hare's Facts About Luther was published in the early 1900's. In searching for the text O'Hare cites, I came across a book from 1888 entitled, Protestantism and the Bible by Rev. Thomas Preston.  It may actually be the case that Father O'Hare simply plagiarized this section from this source. Note the striking similarities:
Romans iii. 28, "We account a man to be justified by faith without the works of the law," he renders by the interpolating of a word, '' We hold that a man is justified without works of the law by faith alone.'' His answer to Emser's exposition of his perversion of the text was: "If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), tell him straightway: Dr. Martin Luther will have it so; Papist and ass are one and the same thing." "Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by; the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in popedom."
Rev. Preston does not document this Luther quote. In his next paragraph, he goes on to cite "Bishop Trevern" on other sixteenth century Bible versions (Beza, Calvin, etc.) and he does give a reference for these: "Amic. Discussion," 1.127." Because of the similarites, it appears to me that Father O'Hare simply lifted his Luther quote from Rev. Preston's book (or one of his books with the same material) and botched the footnote.

Documentation
This is one of the easiest of all Luther quotes to locate. It comes from Ein sendbrieff D. M. Luthers. Von Dolmetzschen und Fürbit der heiligenn (WA 30II, 632-646). The beginning of the quote can be found on page 635 (the rest of the quote comes some pages later):


This treatise has been translated into English: On Translating: An Open Letter. It can be found in PE 5:1-27, and also in LW 35:175-202 (LW's translation is a revision of PE's translation). There is also an online version found at Project Wittenberg. The quote in question is found in LW 35:185 or PE 5:12-13.

Context

Luther begins:
[T]here has been much talk about the translation of the Old and New Testaments. The enemies of the truth charge that in many places the text has been modified or even falsified, whereby many simple Christians, even among the learned who do not know the Hebrew and Greek languages, have been startled and shocked. With this publication it is devoutly to be hoped that, at least in part, the slander of the godless will be stopped and the scruples of the devout removed. Perhaps it may even give rise to further writing on questions and matters such as these. I therefore ask every lover of the truth to take this work seriously to heart and faithfully to pray God for a right understanding of the divine Scriptures, to the improvement and increase of our common Christendom. (LW 35:181-182)
The first section of the treatise is actually fairly angry, sarcastic, and humorous. Luther shows himself fed up with his Papal critics. His anger was fueled against them for an ironic reason- they rallied against his translation, while at the same time utilizing it for their own new translations. A strong Papal critic of Luther (Jerome Emser from Dresden) did just that:
We have seen the Dresden scribbler who played the master to my New Testament. I shall not mention his name again in my books as he has his Judge now, and is already well known anyway. He admits that my German is sweet and good. He saw that he could not improve on it. But eager to discredit it, he went to work and took my New Testament almost word for word as I had written it. He removed my introductions and explanations, inserted his own, and thus sold my New Testament under his name. (LW 35:184-185)
With this historical context in mind, Luther blasts away at his papal critics. Part of the quote can be found in these three paragraphs; 
If your papist wants to make so much fuss about the word sola (alone) tell him this, “Dr. Martin Luther will have it so, and says that a papist and an ass are the same thing.” Sic volo, sic jubeo; sit pro ratione voluntas. We are not going to be the pupils and disciples of the papists, but their masters and judges. For once, we too are going to be proud and brag with these blockheads; and as St. Paul boasts over against his mad raving saints [II Cor. 11:21ff.], so I shall boast over against these asses of mine. Are they doctors? So am I. Are they learned? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they theologians? So am I. Are they debaters? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they dialecticians? So am I. Are they lecturers? So am I. Do they write books? So do I.
I will go further with my boasting. I can expound psalms and prophets; they cannot. I can translate; they cannot. I can read the Holy Scriptures; they cannot. I can pray; they cannot. And, to come down to their level, I can use their own dialectics and philosophy better than all of them put together; and besides I know for sure that none of them understands their Aristotle. If there is a single one among them all who correctly understands one proemium [preface] or chapter in Aristotle, I’ll eat my hat. I am not saying too much, for I have been trained and practiced from my youth up in all their science and am well aware how deep and broad it is. They are very well aware, too, that I can do everything they can. Yet these incurable fellows treat me as though I were a stranger to their field, who had just arrived this morning for the first time and had never before either seen or heard what they teach and know. So brilliantly do they parade about with their science, teaching me what I outgrew twenty years ago, that to all their blatting and shouting I have to sing, with the harlot, “I have known for seven years that horseshoe-nails are iron.”
Let this be the answer to your first question. And please give these asses no other and no further answer to their useless braying about the word sola than simply this, “Luther will have it so, and says that he is a doctor above all the doctors of the whole papacy.” It shall stay at that! Henceforth I shall simply hold them in contempt, and have them held in contempt, so long as they are the kind of people—I should say, asses—that they are. There are shameless nincompoops among them who have never learned their own art of sophistry—like Dr. Schmidt and Doctor Snotty-Nose, and their likes—and who set themselves against me in this matter, which transcends not only sophistry, but (as St. Paul says [I Cor. 1:19–25]), all the world’s wisdom and understanding as well. Truly an ass need not sing much; he is already well known anyway by his ears. (LW 35:185-187)
The quote as cited by Father O'Hare is out of order. Above are the first and fourth sentences. The second and third sentences are found a few pages later:
And why should I talk so much about translating? If I were to point out the reasons and considerations back of all my words, I should need a year to write on it. I have learned by experience what an art and what a task translating is. Therefore I will tolerate no papal ass or mule to be my judge or critic, for they have never tried it. He who desires none of my translating may let it alone. If anyone dislikes it or criticizes it without my knowledge and consent, the devil repay him! If it is to be criticized, I shall do it myself. If I do not do it, then let them leave my translation in peace. Let each of them make for himself one that suits—what do I care? (LW 35:193)

Conclusion
Shoebat.com claims their Luther quote demonstrates a "deliberate attempt to support lawlessness in the Christian life." There's nothing at all in this context to suggest this. Second, Shoebat.com says Luther added words to Romans 3:28 as a "deliberate distortion." 

Luther used the German word “allein” to express a concept inherent in the original text. This is basic translating methodology (employed by both Protestant and Roman Catholic exegetes) and a technique not anathematized by Rome either during Luther’s time or ours. Luther's intention, a perfectly allowable intention, was to translate the Bible into an easily comprehended form of popular German. Hence, his translation at times employed forms of dynamic equivalence, as many translations do. Word-for-word translations can be cumbersome and awkward, and not appealing to average readers. Rather, many translations seek to maximize readability with a minimum of verbal distortion by translating according to “concept.” In translating Romans, Luther tried to present the “impact” of what the original Greek had on its first readers, and to present the German style and idiom equivalent for his readers.

If Luther was attempting to radically distort the New Testament, his doctored work failed in three ways. Luther did not add the word “alone” to Galatians 2:16, nor did he remove “alone” from James 2. Even in his revision of the Latin Vulgate, Luther left the Latin of Romans 3:28 as it was, because the contrast was apparent.

If Luther was attempting to introduce a radical mistranslation into church history he failed. Luther mentions others before him translated Romans 3:28 as he did (for example, Ambrose and Augustine). The Roman Catholic writer Joseph Fitzmyer verified Luther’s claim, and also presented quite an extensive list of those previous to Luther doing likewise. Even some Roman Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.” It is entirely possible Luther’s understanding of “faith alone” differs from those before him, but that is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the thrust of Romans 3:28 implies “alone.” Others previous to Luther may have differed in theological interpretation, yet saw the thrust of the words implied “alone.” Hence, as a translator, Luther holds company with others, and cannot be charged with a mistranslation. If he’s guilty of such a charge, so are many before him.

The entire Roman Catholic crusade against Luther on this issue is entirely unjustified when evaluated by their own paradigms. To my knowledge, there was not any official dogmatic statement prohibiting Luther from either translating the Bible, or translating Romans 3:28 as he did. There was not an infallible interpretation of Romans 3 during Luther’s translation work. Until such dogmatic declarations, those throughout church history previous to such cannot be held anathema for their positions or interpretations of Biblical passages. Further, there wasn’t a defined Roman position on Justification previous to Luther. That is, Roman Catholics cannot even indict Luther’s understanding of justification, because previous to Trent, there was not “one” Roman Catholic understanding of justification. Therefore, Roman Catholics who criticize Luther for not having authority to translate as he did forget their own Church allowed Luther to do so without him posthumously falling under an anathema.

Addendum 5/18/16
I came across a Roman Catholic citing the following:
You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word alone in not in the text of Paul…say right out to him: 'Dr. Martin Luther will have it so,'…I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough. I know very well that the word 'alone' is not in the Latin or the Greek text (Stoddard J. Rebuilding a Lost Faith. 1922, pp. 101-102; see also Luther M. Amic. Discussion, 1, 127).
This quote is similar to that cited by Shoebat. I'm including it for those who search out the reference and wind up here (the quote in this form is cited often). I suspect this citation may have originated from Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible?. The documentation is explained above.
 


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