Archive for the ‘Cochlaeus’ Category

>Cochlaeus Misparaphrase Debacle Summary

October 6, 2010

>We’ve had a few posts on the issue of the misquotation of Luther (i.e. Cochlaeus provided a paraphrase that did not accurately represent what Luther said, and this was then picked up and used as an alleged quote from Luther). The scope of this error is significant. In general, it appears that the quotation was generated by Cochlaeus, and then picked up by influential Romanist scholars Melchior Cano (died 1560)(who acknowledged that he got it from Cochlaeus) and Robert Bellarmine (died 1621)(who did not identify his secondary source, although he was familiar with works by Cochlaeus). From there, numerous other – mostly Roman Catholic – folks picked up the quotation, some citing back to Cochlaeus (suggesting they got it from Cano) and others simply alleging it is from Luther (suggesting they got it from Bellarmine).

In the following list, I’ve tried to highlight a number of the instances where Cochlaeus’ “quotation” from Luther reappeared over the centuries in the Latin. The dates I’ve given may be misleading. For example, as noted above, Melchior Cano died in 1560, but the edition of his works that I found is significantly later.

Also, I’ve limited myself to the Latin. If I were to include English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Polish, I suspect the list would be much longer. Also, I’m sure that if someone with more time on their hands did a more thorough search of the literature, they would find even more instances. This is just a quick survey of some of the easier-to-locate instances.

1. Jaime Luciano Balmes (Protestantism and Catholicity, American Edition 1850)

See also, original(?) Spanish edition 1842:

2. D. Hallinen (Irish Ecclesiastical Record, April 1882)

3. Francis de Sales (Works, 1892)

4. Guglielmo Audisio (Juris naturae et gentium privati et publici fundamenta, 1852)

5. Melchior Cano (Works, 1734)(note the explicit citation to Cochlaeus)

Same thing in the 1727 edition of his works:

6. Robert Bellarmine (Works, 1856)

7. François Marie De Brouwer (Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, in quo etiam de Romano Pontifice, 1881)

8. Leonhard Rieff (Primae Lineae historico-theologicae, Volume 1, 1824)

9. Giuseppe Brunati (De nomine, auctore, emendatoribus et authentia Vulgatæ dissertatio, 1827)

See also Brunati in L’amico d’Italia, Volume 9 (1826)

10. Treatise in Ex Theologia Polemica Positiones Selectae: “DE VERA CHRISTI ECCLESIA CATHOLICO ROMANA” (1837)

11. Fulcran Vigouroux & Louis Bacuez (Manuel biblique: ou, cours d’écriture sainte a l’usage des séminaires, Volume 1, 1884)

12.Damian Czerny (Institutiones Hermeneuticae Novi Testamenti, 1780)

13. Franz Leopold Bruno Liebermann (Institutiones theologicae, Book 2, 1831)(notice that Liebermann specifically cites to Bellarmine)

14. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Philosophische Schriften, Volume 4, Part 1, p. 2288)(apparently quoting from Bellarmine)
15. John Chrysostom of St. Joseph (Dissertatio: De Canone Sacrorum Librorum Constituto A Sanctis Patribus In Magno Nicaeno Concilio, Volume 1, 1742)

16. Joannes Ranolder (Hermeneuticae biblicae generalis principia rationalia, christiana et catholica selectis exemplis illustrata, 1859)

17. Giuseppe Zama Mellini (Institutiones Biblicæ; sive Dissertationes isagogicæ in sacram Scripturam, 1841)(notice that he refers to Bellarmine here, though he doesn’t explicitly say that he found the alleged Luther statement from him)

18.Ubaldo Ubaldi (Introductio in sacram scripturam, Volume 3, 1884)

19. José de San Pedro de Alcántara Castro (Apología de la Theología Escholástica, 1796)

20.Seweryn Lubomlcyzk (Monotessaron Evangelicum, Seu Catena Aurea, Volume 1, 1607)

21. Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz (Theologiae moralis fundamentalis, 1676)

22. Christiani Kortholti (De variis scripturae sacrae editionibus tractatus theologico-philologicus, 1668) (quoting Bellarmine, to respond to Bellarmine)

23. Marin Humbelot (Sacrorum bibliorum notio generalis, 1700)

24. Leonhard Rieff (Primae Lineae historico-theologicae: Volume 1, 1824)

25. Stephan Wiest (Institutiones Theologicae: Demonstratio Religion. Catholicae, 1786)

26. Wolfgang Wilhelm (Muri civitatis sanctae, hoc est religionis catholicae fundamenta XII, 1615)

27.Pedro López Sánchez (Elementos de derecho internacional público: 1866)

28. Aleksander Tyszyński (Rozbiory i krytyki: Volume 1, 1854)

29. Buszczynski (Décadence de l’Europe, 1867)

30. Philippus Nerius Chrismann (Regula fidei catholicæ, 1792)(notice that he specifically cites Cochlaeus)

31. Benedikt Stattler (De locis theologicis, 1775)(notice the explicit citation to Cochlaeus)

32. Tobias Mollik (Dissertationes Dogmaticae, Volume 2, 1786)

33. Christoph Besold (Axiomata philosophiae christianae, Volume 2, 1626)(cites to Bellarmine)

34. William Whitaker (Disputatio de sacra scriptura contra huius temporis Papistas, 1588)(Notice that Whitaker is responding to Bellarmine, and that Whitaker is saying that Cochlaeus is the source)

That’s a good place to end the list. There are a number of morals to the story. (1) Listen to and read William Whitaker. (2) Don’t fall into the trap of counting the noses of scholars. The fact that the quotation is attributed to Luther by dozens of scholars in a half dozen countries doesn’t mean it really was something written by Luther. (3) Always try to locate the primary source for your material, and if you do not, identify your secondary source.


1. Matthaeus Praetorius (Tuba pacis, 1685)

And in the index:

2. Tommaso Bozio (De signis ecclesiae Dei, 1626)

3. Antonius Sanderus (Vindiciarum sive Dissertationum biblicarum libri tres, 1650)

Mr. Paul Hoffer, in the comment box, also states that “Von Hoeninghaus” provides this quotation.

>Final Piece in Cochlaeus’ Misquotation of Luther Puzzle

October 5, 2010

>A few years ago, James Swan and I provided some documentation that a footnote provided by Steve Ray (link to discussion of “When Footnotes Attack”)(additional response) was actually a false quotation, an invention of “that slanderer Cochlaeus,” as Whitaker expressed it in the 16th century (link to discussion of the transmission of the spurious statement).

Cochlaeus was paraphrasing (badly) one of Luther’s writings on the words “This is my body.” We showed that the German does not support Cochlaeus’ mistranslation.

Nevertheless, some of Steve Ray’s supporters seemed to hold out hope that that Matthew Judex “official” Lutheran Latin translation of the work from 1556 might support Cochlaeus. It does not. The relevant portion in Matthew Judex’ translation is this:

Si haec mundi machina per aliquot annos duraverit, iterum more patrum ad tollendas dissensiones humana quaerentur praesidia, constituemur qui; leges et decreta ad conciliandam et servandam in religione concordiam, quod quidem similem priori sortietur eventum.

That is a far cry from Cochlaeus’ paraphrase:

Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, ut propter diversas scripturae interptationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandum fidei unitatem, Conciliorum Decreta recipiamus, atquae ad ea confugiamus.

Hopefully this last piece of the jigsaw puzzle lays the matter to rest, once and for all. It is not the case that Cochlaeus simply adopted the Matthew Judex translation.

– TurretinFan

P.S. Perhaps Mr. Armstrong will now complete his post since the work is available (via Google Books), and provide a retraction/apology to Mr. Swan.

Cochlaeus Work On-Line

March 24, 2009

Further to my last post about the BSB digitization project, one may recall an informal debate that I conducted with Dave Armstrong last January on the issue of a spurious quotation attributed to Luther. The full work of that slanderer Cochlaeus, from which the quotation originated, has been digitized and is available freely on-line, though one will have to navigate some German menus to download it (link).


Cochlaeus in the Original Latin

January 30, 2008
This post has a high chance of getting bumped off the main page within a short amount of time.

in De Autoritate Generalium Conciliorum, (Chapter XI of De Autor. Scrip. &c.), Cochlaeus scribit:

Quinimo & contra tuoy amicos Zuingliu & Oecolampadiu scribes, pro substantia et veritate corpis & sanguninis Chri in Eucharistie sacremeto, sic ait. Si diutius steterit mud9, iteru erit necessariu, ut ppter diversas scripture interptationes, q nunc sunt, ad coservandum fidei unitatem, Concilioru Decreta recipiamus, atq ad ea confugiamus.
See image version, below:

Image provided via scan from Dave Armstrong.

Loose translation, below. I realize Dave has posted a translation on his web site. I’ll compare it later and update as may be needed:

Instead, and against your friends, Zwingli and Oecolampadius, he wrote, for the substance and true body and blood of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrament, this he said: “If the world lasts long, it will again be necessary, then, because of the diverse Scriptural interpretations which now are, in order to conserve the unity of the faith, we will receive the decrees of Councils and then flee to them.”

Various Readings of the Great Luther Citation

January 23, 2008

The following are the fourteen readily obtainable uses by authors of the spurious Latin gloss on Luther’s statement, as instigated by Cochlaeus and perpetuated by Bellarmine, and as brought to the public’s attention as spurious by both Whitaker and Swan. The words: “Si diutius steterit mud, iteru erit necessariu, ut, ppter diversas Scripture interptationes, q nunc sunt, ad coservandam fidei unitatem, Concilioru …” are Cochlaeus’ words, not Luther’s words. This has been shown. Armstrong mentioned that the entire passage by Cochlaeus may be forthcoming. That would be wonderful, as it would permit us to fill out the first item in the list, and particularly to see whether Cochlaeus handled the matter like Grisar.

These are only the readings in which the Latin language is used. It is also known that there are additional related readings in German and English.

1. Si diutius steterit mud, iteru erit necessariu, ut, ppter diversas Scripture interptationes, q nunc sunt, ad coservandam fidei unitatem, Concilioru … [which, being expanded is: Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, ut propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem, Conciliorum …] Cochlaeus, [work from Opuscula] (link to snippet) (link to book) (info about book) Opuscula includes, “De canonicae scripturae et catholicae ecclesiae auctoritate,” the speculative original source of the fictious gloss.

2. Lutherus ipse in lib. 1. cont. Zwingl. et Oecolampad., nonne scriptum reliquit; Si diutius steterit Mundus, iterum fore necessarium, propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ut ad conservandam Fidei unitatem, Conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus.
Bellarmine, Opera Omnia, p. 98 (link)

3. Quare Martinus Lutherus in lib. cont. Zuvinglium de verit. corp. Euchar. Si diutius, inquit, steterit mundus, iterm erit necessarium, ut propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem, conciliorum decreta recipiamus , atque ad ea confugiamus.
Bellarmine, Opera Omnia, p. 76 (link)

4. Lutherus ipse scribens contra Zwinglium et Oecolampadium I. 1. ait: Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum fore necessarium, propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes, quae nunc sunt, ut ad conservandam fidei unitatem, Conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus.
Mellini, p. 138, Institutiones Biblicae (link)

5. Luther lib. 1. contra Zwinglium et Oecolampadium ait: si diutius steterit mundus iterum fore necessarium propter diversas sacrae scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ut ad conservandam fidei unitatem, Conciliorum decreta recipiamus, et ad ea confugiamus.
Leibniz, Philosophische Schriften 4, p. 2288 (link)

6. Luther, writing to Zwinglius, said, “If the world lasts for a long time, it will be again necessary, on account of the different 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 the faith.—Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, propter diversas Scripturœ interpretationes quœ nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem, ut conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus.”
Balmes, Protestantism and Catholicity Compared in Their Effects on the Civilization …, p423 (link) (p. 360 in this version)

7. (1) Luther lui-même écrivait : « Si diutius steterit muridus, iterum necessarium erit, ut propter diversas Scripturœ interpretationes quae mine sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem, Conciliorum decreta recipiamus atque ad ea confugiamus. » De veritate corporis Christi cont. Zuinglium.
Bacuez (and Vigouroux), Manuel Biblique, p. 215 (link)

8. Such was the confusion in the camp of Protestantism, that Luther himself had to exclaim “si diutius steterit mundus, iterum esset necessarium, ut propter diversas scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem concilii decreta recipiamus atque ad ea confugiamus”—(De Veritate Corporis Christi contra Zwinglium.)
Hallinan, Modern Erroneous Systems of Biblical Interpretation (pub. In Irish ecclesiastical record), p. 236 (link)

9. Imo iam olim Luther, de veritate corporis Christi contra Zvingl. scripsit : „Si diutius steterit mundus, iterum erit necessarium, ut propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem Concilii decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus.”
Ranolder, Hermeneuticae Biblicae Generalis Principis Rationalia Christiana et Catholica, p. 272 (link)

10. Luther écrivait dans une lettre à Zwingle, qu’à cause des interprétations différentes de l’Ecriture sainte, il faudrait, pour conserver l’unité de la religion, admettre de nouveau les décrets des conciles et y avoir recours. « Si mundus diutius steterit, ad conservandam fidei unitatem iterum erit necessarium propter diversas Scriptura interpretationes ut conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus. »
Buszczynski, La Decadence de l’Europe, p. 429 (link)

11. Et c’est icy ou je crois d’avoir fermement prouvé que nous avons besoin d’une autre Regle pour nostre foy outre la Regle de l’Escritture Sainte : Si diutius steterit mundus (dict une bonne fois Luther *), iterum fore necessarium, propter diversas Scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ut ad conservandam fidei unitatem Conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atque ad ea confugiamus; il confesse qu’auparavant on la recevoit, et confesse que ci apres il le faudra faire. J’ay esté long, mays cecy une fois bien entendu, n’est pas un petit moyen de se resouvre a une tressainte deliberation. [marginal note] * Contra Zuing. et Œcol.(1) [footnote] (1) In libro, Qod haec verba, « Hoc est corpus meum, » etc. Vide in Parte Prima, cap. III, art. IV, p. 97.
Francis, Oeuvres de Saint Francois de Sales, p. 207 (link)

12. Lutherus ipse sic scribebat 83): Si diutius steterit mundus , iterum necessarium erit, ut propter diversas scripturae interpretationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam Fidei unitatem Conciliorum decreta (Tridentini videlicet) recipiamus atque ad ea confugiamus.”
Brunati, De nomine, auctore, emendatoribus et authentia Vulgatæ dissertatio, typis …, pages 45-46 (link)

13. And he is willing in his despair to take refuge from the anarchy he has made in the decrees of the Catholic Councils.FN12 … FN12 “Erit necessarium, ad conservandum fidei unitatem, ut Conciliorum decreta recipiamus atque ad ea confugiamus.” – Letter to Zwingli
Dominic Bevan Wyndham Lewis, Charles of Europe (link to snippet) (link to book) (link to second copy of book)

14. „Si diutius steterit mundus, iterm erit necessarium, propter diversas scripturae interpretationes quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem, ut conciliorum decreta recipiamus, atquae ea confugiamus.” List Lutra do Zwingli.
Aleksander Tyszyński, “Rozbiory i krytyki,” “Pczatki, Filozofii Krajowej,” Page 264, Footnote 1 (link)

15. Noverat hoc exitiosissimum periculum iam ipsemet LUTHERUS, qui teste Cochlaeo in l. de canon. Script. auctoritate c. II ingenue sassus est : „ Si diutius mundus steterit, iterum erit necessarium , ut ob divinas Scripturae interpretationes, quae nunc sunt, ad conservandam fidei unitatem concilii decreta recipiamus.”
Chrismann, Regula Fidei Catholicae et collection domatum …, p. 68 (link)

This may be updated at some point, for example, either as additional examples/details/etc. come to light, or as related readings in other languages are addressed. This was originally posted just after midnight London time on 23 January 2008. It will probably get backdated along with all the Luther citation materials, as it does not demand a great deal of further immediate attention. At the moment, the list exceeds the growing list at Armstrong’s corresponding page, in that it also includes the use by Ranolder, as well as the full text of the use by Wyndham (Armstrong was apparently unable to obtain the relevant text) and the use by Aleksander Tyszyński.

Adding the English usage will complicate the tree.

For example, we see Balmes’ English regurgitated in

Everett Pomeroy, “‘The Great Reformation’ a Great Mistake,” p. 13 (link) (1912)

But, on the other hand, we see Rheims’ English regurgitated in

Thomas Grave Law, “The Latin Vulgate as the Authentic Version of the Church,” p. 62 (link)


Will Converse Wood, “Five Problems of State and Religion,” p. 237 (link)

and quoted uncrtically:

Brooke Foss Westcott, “A General View of the History of the English Bible,” p. 257 (link)

Luther Citation Discussion – Status Report

January 16, 2008


1. Partial “original” from Cochlaeus.
2. English translation of Luther, apparently from the German original.
3. Armstrong has the German original of Luther as produced in his “works,” which we expect will simply reveal that the English translation is accurate.
4. We also have a practically illegible (to me) photograph of a single page from a manuscript copy of the work in question, in Luther’s hand.
5. I don’t think anyone has bothered to obtain a copy of the original German work pre-compilation into Luther’s works.
6. Apparently, no one has been able to get a copy of the original “official” translation of Luther.


At this point there are several possible outcomes.

1. If the English ends up essentially matching the German and “official Latin” we can simply agree with Whitaker that the “quotation” made by Cochlaeus is a spurious gloss, and Catholic apologists should have heeded Whitaker’s warning.

2. If the “official Latin” ends up matching Cochlaeus’ Latin, it will be a bit surprising, but we will have to acknowledge that Whitaker may well have been wrong.

3. It seems fairly apparent that the single line of German that Armstrong has produced does not correspond to Cochlaeus’ Latin, but does correspond to the English translation (cf. the German back-translation from the Latin previously provided). However, if the “German Scholars” (apparently including Steve Ray’s relative and one other person) conclude otherwise, we will have to figure out why they do so.

I suspect that we will end up with number (1), which will demonstrate that James Swan’s intuition was right all along.

Preliminary Conclusions:

1. So far, I think it is resaonable to conclude that none of the Catholic apologists except Cochlaeus ever read the Latin sentence that Cochlaeus reported in any work by Luther. As such, if no more evidence appears, we can simply dismiss the alleged “quotation” as a spurious gloss loosely based on a sentence with a different meaning, and handed down as – in effect- an “urban legend” via reliance on secondary sources by Catholic apologists.

2. Also, I think it is reasonable to conclude that there is no other Luther work from which Cochlaeus might have gleaned the spurious gloss than the one that has been identified.

3. Finally, I think it is reasonable to conclude that Leibniz (putatively a Lutheran, not a Catholic) simply borrowed from Bellarmine.

These preliminary conclusions would be rather different if the “official Latin” turned out to match Cochlaeus’ gloss – so we are, I suppose, still waiting to see what will be pulled from the hat.

Incidentally, while I probably have missed some things along the way, I think this quotation by Ranolder of Cochaelus’ gloss has been omited from Armstrong’s list (link). Of course, unsurprisingly, his wording is roughly the same as those who went before him, with no additional context provided.

Selection from “That These Words of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics,”

January 16, 2008

Once Scripture had become like a broken net and no one would be restrained by it, but everyone made a hole in it wherever it pleased him to poke his snout, and followed his own opinions, interpreting and twisting Scripture any way he pleased, the Christians knew no other way to cope with these problems than to call many councils. In these they issued many outward laws and ordinances alongside Scripture, in order to keep the people together in the face of these divisions.

As a result of this undertaking (though they meant well), arose the sayings that the Scriptures were not sufficient, that we also needed the laws and the interpretations of the councils and the fathers, and that the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to the apostles but reserved certain things for the fathers. Out of this finally developed the papacy, in which there is no authority but man-made laws and interpretations according to the “chamber of the holy father’s heart.”

When the devil saw this he jeered and thought: “Now I have won! Scripture lies prostrate, the fortress is destroyed, the weapons are beaten down. In their place they now weave walls of straw and make weapons of hay, i.e., they intend now to array themselves against me with man-made laws. Ah, this is serious! What shall I do? I shall not fight against this, but pitch in and help them build so that they remain nicely united, and help them gather enough straw and hay. It serves my purpose well that they should neglect the Word and not dispute over the Scriptures, but that at this very point they should be at peace and believe what the councils and the fathers say. But within this peace and unity I shall stir up many another controversy and quarrel, so that the pope will contend against emperor and kings, bishops against princes and lords, scholars against scholars, clerics against clerics, and everyone against the other, for the sake of temporal honor, possessions, and pleasure, yet leaving untouched their unity of belief in the holy fathers. The fools! What can they expect to accomplish with quarrels over the Scriptures and the things of God they do not understand? It is better for them to quarrel over honor, kingdoms, principalities, property, pleasure, and bodily needs, which they do understand, and meanwhile remain faithful Christians united in the glossed faith of the fathers, i.e., a flimsy faith.”

This is the way the plot worked out for the fathers: Since they contrived to have the Scriptures without quarreling and dissension, they thereby became the cause of men’s turning wholly and completely away from the Scriptures to mere human drivel. Then, of course, dissension and contention over the Scriptures necessarily ceased, which is a divine quarrel wherein God contends with the devil as St. Paul says in Ephesians 6 [:12], “We have to contend not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in the air.” But in place of this, there has broken out human dissension over temporal honor and goods on earth, yet there remain a united blindness and ignorance of the Scriptures and a loss of the true Christian faith, i.e., a united obedience to the glosses of the fathers and to the holy see at Rome. Isn’t this also a piece of devilish craftiness? No matter what play we make, he is a master and an expert at the game.

Now in our day, having seen that Scripture was utterly neglected and the devil was making captives and fools of us by the mere straw and hay of man-made laws, we have tried by God’s grace to offer some help in this matter. With immense and bitter effort indeed we have brought the Scriptures to the fore again and released the people from man-made laws, freed ourselves and escaped the devil, although he stubbornly resisted and still continues to do so.

However, even though he has had to let us go, he does not forget his tricks. He has secretly sown his seed among us so that they may take hold of our teachings and words, not to aid and assist us in fostering the Scriptures, but while we were leading in the fight against human drivel to fall upon our host from the rear, incite rebellion and raise an uproar against us, in order that caught between two enemies, we may be more easily destroyed. This is what I call throwing quicksilver into the pond!

However, he does not leave the matter there, but quick as a flash goes to work on the sacraments, although in this respect he has already torn at least ten rips and loopholes in the Scriptures. I have never read of a more shameful heresy, which from the outset has gathered to itself so many heads, so many factions and dissensions, although on the main point, the persecution of Christ, they are united. But he will keep on and attack still other articles of faith, as he already declares with flashing eyes that baptism, original sin, and Christ are nothing. Once more there will arise a brawl over the Scriptures, and such dissension and so many factions that we may well say with St. Paul, “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Th 2:7), just as he also saw that many more factions would arise after him.

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. In short, the devil is too clever and too mighty for us. He resists and hinders us at every point. When we wish to deal with Scripture, he stirs up so much dissension and quarreling over it that we lose our interest in it and become reluctant to trust it. We must forever be scuffling and wrestling with him. If we wish to stand upon the councils and counsels of men, we lose the Scriptures altogether and remain in the devil’s possession body and soul. He is Satan, and Satan is his name, i.e., an adversary. He must obstruct and cause misfortune; he cannot do otherwise. Moreover, he is the prince and god of this world, so that he has sufficient power to do so. Since he is able and determined to do all this, we must not imagine that we shall have peace from him. He takes no vacation and he does not sleep.

Choose, then, whether you prefer to wrestle with the devil or whether you prefer to belong to him. If you consent to be his, you will receive his guarantee to leave you in peace with the Scriptures. If you refuse to be his, defend yourself, go at him! He will not pass you by; he will create such dissension and sectarianism over the Scriptures that you will not know where Scriptures, faith, Christ, and you yourself stand.


Emphasis added to the words in question. This short quotation was originally extracted from the American Edition of Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961) volume 37, pp. 14-17, Robert H. Fischer, translator/editor (quoted as a “fair use” – should the copyright holder disagree, it is requested that he contact the blog owner through the email found on his profile).

This context provides a rather different sense as to what Luther was trying to say, than the sense conveyed by Cochlaeus and many who have followed him.

But let us not render final judgment. Perhaps Mr. Fischer has rendered the text too kindly to Luther. Perhaps the German or Latin source documents will reveal a pro-Lutheran bias in Mr. Fischer’s translation.

Those interested can read more of the document here (link), notes on the work beginning at page 3, work itself beginning at page 13 (bold portion above at page 17), with the last available part of the treatise ending at page 73 (obviously, there is a lot more context that could be provided).


Speculative Luther Citation Tree

January 15, 2008

German Original statements in “These words, ‘this is my body,’ etc.”
Cochlaeus’ inaccurate gloss on a single sentence from that work.
Bellarmine and Chrismann (independently of one another)
with Bellarmine serving as major node, with many Catholic apologists (possibly including Gregory Martin, de Sales, and so forth) and Leibniz obtaining it from Bellarmine or from someone who relied on Bellarmine.
For example,
Audioso obtaining from Bellarmine
Balmes obtaining from Audioso
Ray obtaining from Balmes

Caveat: This is just speculative (though certain connectors, like the Leibniz-Bellarmine connector, are strong). I can’t recall where Steve said he found the quotation.

UPDATE: I note that the current version of Dave’ page states: “The other remaining task is to give a solid contextual interpretation (because the accusation all along has been that the quotation was snatched from context and isolated, thus leading to a false impression of what Luther meant). I have already made an ambitious start in that endeavor in section VIII above. More is forthcoming, including the analysis of a Professor of German of our citation, based on the context of the original work in German (we have photocopies of the beginning of it, from the Weimar Werke collection, obtained at the University of Detroit). We also have photocopies of the relevant sections from the Erlangen and Walch editions (obtained at Concordia University library in Ann Arbor).”

Hopefully the original German text will be shared if only in image form. That would permit the main question (about whether the quote is being abused by being taken out of context), to be answered. The other questions (about whether the translation from German to Latin is fair (or not) or even whether it is the “official” translation or a Cochlaean paraphrase, are interesting but secondary.

Oh well … I guess we will wait and see.

At this time I am most interested in (in order of interest):

1. The original German context. (I assume that this will be forthcoming, and will demonstrate that the Latin translation we have seen is something of a [more or less, I’m not sure] rough paraphrase. I assume it has not been posted yet because of size issues.)

2. The “official” Latin translation (to contrast with Cochlaeus’) [If it is close to Cochlaeus’ it will reduce the issues involved]

3. Even one writer (Catholic, nominal Lutheran, or anything) who quoted more of the context than Cochlaeus. (I doubt this will be found, but I’d be happy to be wrong.)

4. Any Catholic writer who ever answered Whitaker’s charge that the quotation was a spurius Cochlaean invention. (I also doubt that this will be found, prior to this particular exchange.)


I note that I have omitted the possibility that Cochlaeus may have obtained his gloss legitimately from the “official” translation, since Cochlaeus wrote prior to the issuance of that translation. This pretty much solves the derivation puzzle.

Mostly it goes:

Bellarmine and Chrismann
-and from Bellarmine-
Many Catholic writers (including Balmes) and to Leibniz (plagiarizing Bellarmine), either directly or indirectly

I’m conflicted about whether to assign Gregory Martin’s translation (in English) to derivation from either Cochlaeus or Bellarmine. I’m not sure it matters much.

(Incidentally, I think Grisar’s different quotation is not derived directly from this family. Grisar appears actually have read the original work. Grisar misstates Luther’s position, but he is far more fair and reasonable than any who followed Cochlaeus.)

Here is Grisar:

Grisar’s tag is clearly incorrect, as even Armstrong seems to have admitted. Luther was not “plead[ing] the cause of the Catholic principle of authority.” Luther attributed not “his own Scriptural system” to the devil, but the dissension of the fanatics and the quicksand of popery. Grisar was far more fair (his “obliged” seems to go to far) but was still incorrect. The context is available for anyone to read it. If you doubt my word read it (link).

As far as I am concerned, the derivation puzzle is solved. Cochlaeus is the ultimate source, and Luther never wrote the words attributed to him, although he wrote something from which Cochlaeus derived what he did. Furthermore, Bellarmine is the secondary major source.

All that remains is (a) the interesting question of whether Cochlaeus’ gloss was fair. If the English translation is accurate, then “necessarium” is Cochlaeus’ invention and is misleading. It is “necessarium” chiefly that is key to the Catholic use of the quotation. It’s a fairly subtle change, but one that creates a vast difference in meaning. The (b) for that (a) is that we should check the “official” Latin version to see if “necessarium” appears there too. If so, then that will weaken both the claim to Cochlaean derivation (since others could theoretically have extracted it from the official translation), as well as the claim that the translation is unfair.

There are several other aspects of the gloss. These are less significant, but when combined with the major error, make the misrepresentation worse.

a) Man-made rules etc. is replaced by councils. This changes the tone of the sentence. In context, one of the many man-made rules that Luther has in mind are councils, but also included are popes, etc.

b) “Confugiamus” suggests taking refuge, which again changes the tone of the sentence. In context, Luther was suggesting that men would turn to man-made rules as a way to quench controversy.

c) “Propter” without context, suggests that the reason for the turning of men to man-made rules is primarily the diverse interpreations of Scripture. In fact, in context, the reason is the influence of Satan.

d) “Fidei unitatem” is probably an accurate translation of the words, but out of context one loses the saracstic sense in which Luther intended them. Recall his earlier comments about the unity of the faith, for he called that: “a united obedience to the glosses of the fathers and to the holy see at Rome.”

In short, the sense Luther gives is condemnatory: first Satan stirs up trouble, then Satan imposes legalism. The way Luther is quoted, one cannot get that point. In fact, in most cases one is led to believe that Luther was suggesting that councils would be the “necessary” cure for the disease of individual interpretation.

Ah well, if anyone sees that Dave has made progress towards those ends, let me know.

%d bloggers like this: