Saturday, February 11, 2006

A "Roman Catholic" Martin Luther Quiz

I love quizzes. I found this “Martin Luther Quiz” while searching for other things. The author and expert calls herself “Saint Therese of Avila”. The quiz was originally posted at Catholic in a post found here. Her answers will be in red. My answers will be in black. I wanted to send her this link so she could “check my work,” but it appears she no longer participates at


Question 1.
Luther tried unsuccessfully to get some inspired books of the New Testament kicked out of the Bible. Which NT books did he try to remove?


Her Answer: Luther tried to remove all four of these books from the Bible (because of their plain and clear teaching of Catholic doctrines)

My Answer: It is a simple historical fact that Luther’s translation of the Bible contained all of its books. Luther began translating the New Testament in 1521, and released a finished version in 1522. He published sections of the Old Testament as he finished them. He finished the entire Bible by 1534. There was never an attempt on Luther’s part to leave James, Jude, Hebrews, or Revelation un-translated or left out of his published Bible. For more information see: Luther’s view Of The Canon Of Scripture.

Question 2.
When Martin Luther wrote his German translation of the Bible, he added a word where it had never appeared in the text previously. What word was it?


Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS….alone. In Romans 3:28, Luther added the word “alone” after “faith” in his German translation of the Bible. Fortunately, this did not seep into our English version of the Bible. For more info, read “Where We Got the Bible” by Henry Graham. When people gave Luther grief for his adding of the word “alone” to the Bible, Luther replied: “If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), 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 a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom.” (Amic. Discussion, I, 127, “The Facts About Luther” O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p.201).

My Answer: The Roman Catholic writer Joseph A. Fitzmyer has shown in his book, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993) 360-361 that the word “alone” had been previously used in translation in Romans 3:28. He cites Origen, Hillary, Basil, Ambrosiaster, Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Bernard, Theophyylact, Theodoret, Aquinas, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Marius Victorinus, and Augustine- thus vindicating Luther’s point “I am not the only one, nor the first, to say that faith alone makes one righteous. There was Ambrose, Augustine and many others who said it before me.” In regard to the citation of Luther utilized in Therese of Avila’s answer, I suggest she re-read the source from the quote was pulled: Luther’s Open Letter on Translating (1530). It will provide a context for his remarks, as well as a detailed exegetical reason from Luther as to his reasoning for the translation. For further information see: Luther added The word “Alone” To Romans 3:28?”

Question 3.
After seeing how the Protestant movement (the “protest” of the Catholic Church) was causing a domino effect of division after division among Protestants, what did Martin Luther say would need to happen?

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS……After seeing the ripple effect of divisions, and the lack of unity that resulted when it came to interpreting Scripture within Protestant groups, Martin Luther said people would eventually have to return to abiding by the Catholic Church Councils. Unfortunately, the many characters of the Reformation were unable to agree even among themselves, and the return to the Catholic Church that they worked towards just never happened. Martin Luther wrote: "If the world lasts for a long time, it will again be necessary, on account of the many interpretations which are now given to the Scriptures, to receive the decrees of councils, and take refuge in them, in order to preserve the unity of faith." Epis. ad. Zwingli (ap. Balmes, p. 423). Luther saw the dangers and divisions that arose when people started interpreting Scripture apart from the first Church. He wrote: "There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit Baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams." "An Meine Kritiker" (by Johannes Jorgensen, p. 181)

My Answer: Luther said previous to his trial at Worms that he would be content to be judged by a council, at a future Council, by Scripture. After the advent of the Reformation, Luther lived under the conviction that the ultimate authority for the life of the Christians was the Word of God.

The first Luther quote used by Therese is from LW 37:16 and actually reads,

“If the world lasts much longer, men will, as the ancients did, once more turn to human schemes on account of this dissension, and again issue laws and regulations to keep the people in the unity of the faith. Their success will be the same as it was in the past.”

What will their success be according to Luther in the above quote?- Failure.

In regards to “sects”- Luther said of the Roman Catholic Church:

“…there is no other place in the world where there are so many sects, schisms, and errors as in the papal church. For the papacy, because it builds the church upon a city and person, has become the head and fountain of all sects which have followed it and have characterized Christian life in terms of eating and drinking, clothes and shoes, tonsures and hair, city and place, day and hour. For the spirituality and holiness of the papal church lives by such things, as was said above.  This order fasts at this time, another order fasts at another time; this one does not eat meat, the other one does not eat eggs; this one wears black, the other one white; this one is Carthusian,  the other Benedictine;  and so they continue to create innumerable sects and habits, while faith and true Christian life go to pieces. All this is the result of the blindness which desires to see rather than believe the Christian church and to seek devout Christian life not in faith but in works, of which St. Paul writes so much in Colossians [2]. These things have invaded the church and blindness has confirmed the government of the pope.”

Source: LW 39:221.

Contrary to the claim of Therese, Luther did not see “…the dangers and divisions that arose when people started interpreting Scripture apart from the first Church.” Rather, he said the Bible was pure, but men are wicked, and will misinterpret it being motivated by the Devil to do so (See Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, Volume 1, entry 315).

Question 4.
Luther’s burial chamber was adorned with the image of…..

Her Answer- According to Peter Stravinskas’ “Faith and Reason.” Luther’s “burial chamber in the Wittenberg church….was adorned with the 1521 Peter Vischer sculpture of the Coronation of the Virgin.”

My answer: so what?

Question 5.
Which of the following is NOT true about Luther?

A. He was devoted to the Blessed Mother
B. He believed in Baptismal regeneration
C. He believed the Body and Blood of Christ was truly present in the Eucharist
D. He referred to Mary as the “Mother of God.”
E. He thought our Lord´s mother gave birth to babies with two different fathers, God and Joseph.

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS…. E. (A, B, C and D are true about Luther, but not E)

My Answer: A is blatantly false (see Luther’s Theology of Mary). B and C are true, but not understood in the same way as Roman Catholicism. D is true, but again understood differently than Roman Catholicism (See again, Luther’s Theology of Mary). Thus to bring up these points in order to "prove" Luther was somehow in harmony with Rome is not true. E of course is false, Luther affirmed Mary’s perpetual virginity. That Luther did not spend entire treatises defending perpetual virginity serves to show that what was important to him was not Mary’s lack of children, but rather the child she did give birth to. Throughout his career, he would minimize the emphasis on this Marian doctrine.

Question 6.
All of these individuals believed and taught the perpetual virginity of Mary (i.e. that Mary remained a virgin after giving birth to Jesus) with the exception of:

-John Wesley (founder of Methodism)
-John Calvin
-Martin Luther
-Huldreich Zwingli
-Tammy Faye Baker

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS …….Tammy Faye Baker. That’s right, all of the founders of the Protestantism taught that Mary remained a virgin for life. Some Protestants are surprised to learn that most Protestant founders, including Martin Luther, also taught the Immaculate Conception (Mary conceived in St. Ann’s womb without original sin) Martin Luther wrote: "It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." [Martin Luther; "Sermon On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God", 1527] Luther also wrote: “It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin….” Calvin wrote: “There have been certain folk who have wished to suggest from this passage [Matt 1:25] that the Virgin Mary had other children than the Son of God, and that Joseph had then dwelt with her later; but what folly this is! For the gospel writers did not wish to record what happened afterwards….” Zwingli wrote: “I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin.” Luther: “Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . ´brothers´ really means ´cousins´ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. “ (Sermons on John, chapters 1-4, 1537-39)Luther: “Christ . . . was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him . . . ´brothers´ really means ´cousins´ here, for Holy Writ and the Jews always call cousins brothers. “ (Sermons on John, chapters 1-4, 1537-39)Luther: “God says . . . :´Mary´s Son is My only Son.´ Thus Mary is the Mother of God. “(Ibid.)Luther: “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," 1527)

My Answer: While retaining a belief in perpetual virginity, Luther did so in undogmatic terms, making sure that Mary was not to be deified for such an attribute. He implied in the Table Talk that it was Mary’s choice to remain a virgin after the birth of Christ, rather than her continued virginity being a miraculous gift from God.

However, Luther did not hold a lifelong belief in Mary’s immaculate conception. The Quote above from Luther’s "Sermon On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God” was brought to cyber-space via Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar. A Catholic apologist quoted Luther from Grisar’s book and disregarded both the historical context of Luther’s writings, as well as Grisar’s explanation of the quote. If one looks up the reference, Grisar states, “The sermon was taken down in notes and published with Luther’s approval. The same statements concerning the Immaculate Conception still remain in a printed edition published in 1529, but in later editions which appeared during Luther’s lifetime they disappear.” The reason for their disappearance is that as Luther’s Christo-centric theology developed, aspects of Luther’s Mariology were abandoned. Grisar recognizes this. In regards to this Luther quote, Grisar says, “As Luther’s intellectual and ethical development progressed we cannot naturally expect the sublime picture of the pure Mother of God, the type of virginity, of the spirit of sacrifice and of sanctity to furnish any great attraction for him, and as a matter of fact such statements as the above are no longer met with in his later works.”

In regard to Therese’s Calvin quote, it really isn’t certain that Calvin held to the perpetual virginity of Mary. A few quotes from Calvin have been used by Catholics to prove his adherence to it, yet a close reading of the quotes doesn’t really prove anything definitively. Calvin’s main point in his comment on Matthew 1:25 is that the gospel writer did not wish to record what happened afterwards to Mary. Calvin calls it “folly” at one point, when describing those who wish to make a text say more than it does. Those who would make a necessary inference where the Gospel writer has only made a possible inference engage in folly (according to Calvin). So it can’t really be concluded that Calvin is teaching here Mary’s perpetual virginity, it sounds to me as if Calvin is simply being careful. While I myself would make a possible inference from these passages that Mary had other children, It cannot be concluded that Calvin believed in Mary’s perpetual virginity, or her “sinlessness”, only that Calvin held the gospel writer does not explicitly say, one way or the other. Interestingly, this conclusion was reached similarly by William Bouwsma in his book, John Calvin: A 16th Century Portrait. He says in a footnote on p.275, "Among matters on which (Calvin) discouraged speculation were the order of angels and the perpetual virginity of Mary."

Question 7.
What did Luther write was permissible in the Bible?

-marijuana smoking

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS….. Polygamy. Martin Luther, De Wette, II, 459: “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife, he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case, the civil authority has nothing to do in such a matter.” As one of the first Sola Scriptura advocates, Luther interpreted the Bible on his own, apart from the Church, which resulted in this surprising Biblical conclusion.

My Answer: Therese has DeWette vol. 2? Amazing. The book has not been in print for well over 100 years, and it's in German. Her translation of this quote into English from the German is very good. It is true Luther allowed for polygamy, but only in a very narrow sense. Luther scholar Heinrich Boehmer points out that it was only to be in cases of “severe necessity, for instance, if the wife develops leprosy or becomes otherwise unfit to live with her husband… But this permission is always to be restricted to such cases as severe necessity. The idea of legalizing general polygamy was far from the reformers mind. Monogamy was always to him the regular form of matrimony…” (Luther And The Reformation in Light of Modern Research, 213-214). Most often, Luther detractors point out Luther’s involvement in the bigamy of Phillip of Hesse. Luther’s final opinion on the whole mess: “…if anyone thereafter should practice bigamy, let the Devil give him a bath in the abyss of hell.”

Question 8
Fill in the blank for this famous Luther quote: “…with regard to God, and in all that bears on salvation or damnation, [man] has no ______________ but is a captive, prisoner and bondslave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.”

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS…. Free will. This quote if from Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”). As you can imagine, it is regarded as heresy by the Catholic Church.

My Answer: Galatians 3:22 describes the whole world as a “prisoner of sin”- this hardly sounds like freedom. This is but one verse among countless that describe mankind as in slavery to sin.

Luther taught that Erasmus’ view of the free will is that it is “ineffective” without God’s grace, but, Luther said, if the free will needs a little of God’s grace, then it must be a permanent prisoner to evil since it cannot turn itself to the good. Luther’s doctrine of the will at times seems deterministic. He sees neither puppet or automaton. He does not try to figure out how it all works (the relationship between creature and creator). He says we are free in horizontal relationships, to choose things (like food or spouses), but we are bound though in the vertical relationship away from choosing God. We are all born with defiance in the heart.

Question 9
What book of the Bible was Luther referring to when he said: “I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is a sufficient reason for rejecting it.”

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS: the Book of Revelations. Here’s what he said about the Book of Revelations: “to my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character… Everyone may form his own judgment of this book; as for myself, I feel an aversion to it, and to me this is sufficient reason for rejecting it.” (Sammtliche Werke, 63, p. 169-170, “The Facts About Luther,’ O’Hare, TAN Books, 1987, p.2-3).

My Answer: The reference to The Facts About Luther is inaccurate- it is not “2-3” but rather page 203. Luther’s Preface To The Revelation of St. John is frequently cited by Luther detractors, that is, in its original form written in 1522. Luther eventually rewrote it entirely in 1530- his opinion of the book had changed. John Warwick Montgomery points out,

“Luther’s short and extremely negative Preface to the Revelation of St. John was completely dropped after 1522, and the Reformer replaced it with a long and entirely commendatory Preface (1530). Because “some of the ancient fathers held the opinion that it was not the work of St. John the apostle,” Luther leaves the authorship question open, but asserts that he can no longer “let the book alone,” for “we see, in this book, that through and above all plagues and beasts and evil angels Christ is with His saints, and wins the victory at last.” In his original, 1532 Preface to Ezekiel, Luther made a cross-reference to the Revelation of St. John with no hint of criticism; in his later, much fuller Preface to Ezekiel, he concludes on the note that if one wishes to go into prophetic study, more deeply, “the Revelation of John can also help.”

Question 10
Fill in the blank for this 1523 Luther quote: “Whoever possesses a good faith, says the ______________ without danger.”

a. Lord’s Prayer
b. Hail Mary
c. Glory Be

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS……B……Hail Mary. Luther: “Whoever possesses a good faith, says the Hail Mary without danger. (Sermon, March 11, 1523)

My Answer: Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Luther’s timeline will recognize that 1523 was early in his Reformation career- a close look at Luther’s Mariology shows that his opinion of Mary decreased as the years went by, particularly praying to her.

Luther’s “Hail Mary” was a much different approach to what was normal during the sixteenth century. Eric Gritsch states, “{Luther} tolerated the "Hail Mary" in "A Personal Prayer Book" of 1522, which was to be an evangelical alternative to existing prayer books advocating the wrongful veneration of Mary as co-redemptrix. Luther urged people to understand this well-known addition to the Lord's Prayer "as a meditation in which we recite what God has given her" and as an admonition "that everyone may know and respect her as one blessed by God. That is why the "Hail Mary," like the Lord's Prayer, is concerned "purely with giving praise and honor"; it is "neither a prayer nor an invocation" to Mary as the one who prays for us. Instead, Mary should be regarded as being without sin, that is, as being "full of grace" (voll Gnaden) in the sense of being "graced" (begnadet)' all she did was done by God in her, that is, "God is with her"; "she is blessed above all other women" because she became fertile through the Holy Spirit, and through Christ's birth, not through her participation in it, humankind is redeemed from death and damnation. To bless her with rosaries and a constant mouthing of "Hail Mary" takes the honor away from Christ, who alone mediates salvation.” (Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, 238).

The Catholic work, Mariology Vol. 2 notes, “Luther had set the style for Protestants when he attacked the Catholic prayer "Hail Holy Queen" which he regarded as blasphemous. "Your prayers, 0 Christian," he says, "are as dear to me as hers. And why? Because if you believe that Christ lives in you as much as in her, you can help me as much as she." Eventually Luther was led to limit the communion of saints to the Church on earth because of his complete rejection of any intercessory power on the part of the saints in heaven {Juniper B. Carol (ed.) Mariology Volume 2, 195}.

Comparing John 7:37-38 (“If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water”) with the “Hail Mary” Luther says,

“This is the correct and reassuring message of the blessed Gospel, which the pernicious and blasphemous see of Rome has trodden underfoot for several centuries, deluging all Christendom with its lies and demonic doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1) and instituting its worship and innumerable other abominations. As a consequence, Christendom neglected and, unfortunately, lost this chief fountain and source, which overflows with rich and full grace; and it substituted Christ’s mother Mary for Christ, praying to her for grace. Thus only the words “Hail Mary, full of grace!” remained current, and the words of our text passed into oblivion. But the words remain written: “And from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.” (LW 22:136).

Question 11
In 1519, Luther wrote: I never approved of a ___________, nor will I approve of it for all eternity.”

a. Bible tax

b. curfew

c. schism

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS…..C…… Schism. LUTHER’s full quote: “I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity. . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted. St. Peter and St. Paul, forty-six Popes, some hundreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, having overcome Hell and the world; so that the eyes of God rest on the Roman church with special favor. Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church.” “On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. We must not separate from God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with the children of God who are still abiding in the pale of Rome on account of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who are united.” (SOURCE: Letter to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519 more than a year after the Ninety-Five Theses quoted in The Facts about Luther, 356)

My Answer: The letter was never sent. The letter was the result of Luther’s meeting with the Papal nuncio Miltitz. Miltitz was somewhat of a renegade nuncio, and was attempting to reconcile Luther with the Pope. He spoke of how favorably the pope felt toward Luther, and how angry he was with Tetzel. He attempted to make this deal with Luther: Luther would cease with his part of this controversy- and he promised those who opposed Luther would also be silent. He also requested Luther write a letter to the pope (a section of which Therese quoted above). Boehmer notes Miltitz specifically requested that Luther’s letter contain a confession-

“…that [Luther] had been too vehement and sharp although he had never thought of injuring the Roman Church, but was aiming only at the disgraceful preaching [of indulgences]…he would have a note sent out, exhorting everyone to be obedient to the Roman Church and also confessing that he had expressed the truth in an all too heated and, perhaps untimely fashion….The letter [was to] close with the characteristic words: ‘I am willing to do anything, provided I am not made to renounce anything more, for nothing will come of the recantation.’”

Source: Heinrich Boehmer, Road To Reformation (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1946), 254.

Boehmer notes the letter was written and presented to Miltitz, but Luther “absolutely refused to recant.” Miltitz then dropped the whole idea of the letter. Luther was under the impression the Miltitz would set up a meeting in which a learned bishop would evaluate Luther’s points. Luther writing to elector Frederic says, “Miltitz will write the Pope at once, informing him how things stand, and asking him to recommend the matter to some learned bishop, who will hear me and point out the errors I am to recant. For when I have learned my mistakes, I will gladly withdraw them, and do nothing to impair the honor and power of the Roman Church.” Miltitz did write the Pope- informing him Luther was ready to recant everything. Thus, the letter quoted by Therese was "Papal Nuncio subterfuge."

Question 12
12. How did Luther describe contraception?

a. "a sin greater than adultery and incest"
b. "a sin equal to adultery and incest"
c "permissible if the husband is unable to refrain from relations one week each month."

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS……A….Luther said contraception was “a sin greater than adultery and incest.” Calvin called it “a monstrous thing.” Wesley and Zwingli also condemned contraception Protestants traditionally interpreted the story of Onan in Genesis as a condemnation of contraception. (until the 20th century)

My Answer: I can't add too much to this one- Luther did in fact look down on birth control, though i've not found any references to medieval contraceptive devices in his writings. The above quote comes from LW 7:20. Luther commenting on Onan, who is told to take his brothers' wife, but he refuses to impregnate her, and thus fulfill the duty of the demanded Leverite marriage (Duet. 25:5-6).

Luther says,
"Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment. He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. Therefore he did not allow himself to be compelled to bear that intolerable slavery. Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him."

Question 13
Which book of the Bible did Luther call "an epistle of straw."

a. James
b. Philemon
c. Acts

Her Answer: THE ANSWER IS….A…. Luther called the Book of James “an epistle of straw.” Referring to the book of Revelations, Luther said “Christ is not taught or known in it." Luther also said he wanted to toss the book of Esther into the Elbe River. “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. There are many things objectionable in this book [Revelation]. To my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character.”

My Answer: An interesting fact about this quote “epistle of straw” (hardly ever mentioned by Luther-detractors!) is that it only appears in the original 1522 Preface To The New Testament. John Warwick Montgomery points out: “Few people realize — and liberal Luther interpreters do not particularly advertise the fact — that in all the editions of Luther’s Bible translation after 1522 the—Reformer dropped the paragraphs at the end, of his general Preface to the New Testament which made value judgments among the various biblical books and which included the famous reference to James as an “Epistle of straw.” Montgomery finds that Luther showed a “considerable reduction in negative tone in the revised Prefaces to the biblical books later in the Reformer’s career.” For anyone to continue to cite Luther’s “epistle of straw” comment against him is to do Luther an injustice. He saw fit to retract the comment. Subsequent citations of this quote should bear this in mind.

I covered Luther's view of Revelation in question 9. In regard to the Esther, Luther still translated it and allowed it in his Bible. Curiously, Roger Beckwith (author the outstanding book The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church) has said, “It is sometimes said that Luther, following certain of the Fathers, denied the Canonicity of Esther, but Hans Bardtke has questioned this, as not taking into account of all the evidence (Luther und das Buch Esther, Tubingen Mohr, 1964).” One can only hope that this work will one day be available in English.

"The history of Jonah is so monstrous that it is absolutely incredible…”This quote About Jonah sounds suspiciously like a quote from John Aurifaber’s version of the Table Talk. The quote from Aurifaber’s Table Talk reads,

“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 to 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."

I don’t really understand what The problem with Luther is here. Indeed, being swallowed by a giant fish is monstrous, and absolutely incredible! The context above speaks for itself. Obviously, Luther valued the Book of Jonah highly. Elsewhere Luther said of Jonah:

“I have therefore chosen to expound the holy prophet Jonah, for he… represents an excellent, outstanding, and comforting example of faith and a mighty and wonderful sign of God’s goodness to all the world. For who would not trust God with all his heart, proudly defy all the devils, the world, and all the fulminating tyrants, and exult over God’s kindness, when he contemplates this story and beholds how easily God’s power and grace are able to preserve Jonah in the midst of the deep sea, even in the belly of the whale, thus saving him not only from one death but from various deaths, deserted and forgotten as he is by all men and all creatures?” (LW 19:36)