21 November 2017

More Martin ... further facts about the Fraterculus

I'm sorry: Luther is a bit passe now, isn't he ... PF has been to Lund, hugged an episcopussy, said ... er ... whatever he has said ...

But there is a very jolly book about Luther, The Making of Martin Luther, which has only just reached me, a gift of a generous friend, and which I can enthusiastically commend. Its narrative has a rather deliciously detached style of faintly amused superiority; it is always elegant, invariably informative, and quite often distinctly funny.

Richard Rex (a Tab) has endeavoured to excavate beneath the historical evidence and to bring us what was truly going on in the mind of Luther. In particular, he avoids the snares of writing with hindsight. He tries very hard to see how new ... or how old ... was every stance that Luther took at the moment he took it.

I really do think that most of you would enjoy most of it. The sort of Revisionism which begins by demonstrating that, pretty certainly, the fraterculus never nailed any theses to any door anywhere in that fateful October of 1517, always brings with it a certain pleasure. And the careful dissection of Luther's treatment of his opponents is fun ... Rex suggests that the unrelenting fury with which Luther treated Erasmus is the product of Luther's frustrated realisation that the great humanist had actually caught him out. I very much enjoyed the author's demonstration that Luther was a thorough-going medieval, not least in his late medieval emotional response to the Lord's Humanity. Revealingly, Luther considered S Bernard of Clairvaux to have "excelled all the ancient Fathers of the Church in his preaching, because he preached Christ so beautifully'". [Anglican readers will probably recall Gregory Dix's pointed proof (Shape pp 605 sqq.) that emotional fifteenth century devotional writings had very little in them which "the sternest protestant that ever came out of Ulster could conscientiously refuse to use".]

A tiny but thought-provoking example of Rex's ability to throw light on how something seemed at the time is his suggestion that "the mother's milk of the [recent invention of printing] in its infancy was meeting the massive demand for liturgical texts which was generated by the almost hyperventilated piety of late medieval Catholicism".

But ... er ... did it necessarily feel exactly like that in, say, Venice? Where Aldus Manutius Plancus insisted that only Greek be spoken in his Printing House ...


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. That opening paragraph is priceless.

But as for the wild boar (Pope called him that) he is much worse than imagined. ABS thinks he would have had to have a dozen weather balloons attached to him just to get him to rise to the level of a nominal Christian.

At his crummy blog, ABS had several posts devoted to the lunatic and he posted photocopies of articles in the now toes-up 30 Days magazine.

If any are interested, they can be read at the link and at the end of each post the next one can be accessed by clicking the "newer" link;


Poor Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was caught praising the work of this Luther expert virtually nobody knows of because of dynamic silence and he had to pay the cost because Luther is boss in Rome.

GOR said...

I really laughed out loud at the neologism.

Of course on this side of the pond it would have to be rendered ‘episcokitty’ – due to the tender sensibilities of some hypocritical American ears. But it doesn’t quite have the same effect (”non suona” as they would say in Rome). So yours is a keeper, Father!

Donna Bethell said...

I am very happy to see that it wasn't just an old one that I had missed, but a true neologism. And I have no respect for those tender sensibilities on this side of the pond so I shall use it freely!

John Nolan said...

GMH had it:

O Deutschland, double a desperate name!
O world wide of its good!
But Gertrude, lily, and Luther, are two of a town,
Christ's lily and beast of the waste wood ...

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Neither did Luther say "here I stand" at Worms.

And he was soundly thrashed in a public disputation by Johannes Meier von Eck.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

You forgot St Thomas More's adjective qualifying Fraterculus, namely, Pediculosus.