Martin Luther on Reading the Bible as Christian Scripture: The Messiah in Luther's Biblical Hermeneutic and Theology
Author: William M. Marsh
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Above all else that the sixteenth-century German Reformer was known for, Martin Luther was a Doctor of the Holy Scriptures. One of the most characteristic features of Luther’s approach to Scripture was his resolved christological interpretation of the Bible. Many of the Reformer’s interpreters have looked back upon Luther’s “Christ-centered” exposition of the Scriptures with sentimentality but have often labeled it as “Christianization,” particularly in regards to Luther’s approach of the Old Testament, dismissing his relevance for today’s faithful readers of God’s Word.
This study revisits this assessment of Luther’s christological interpretation of Scripture by way of critical analysis of the Reformer’s “prefaces to the Bible” that he wrote for his translation of the Scriptures into the German vernacular. This work contends that Luther foremost believes Jesus Christ to be the sensus literalis of Scripture on the basis of the Bible’s messianic promise, not enforcing a dogmatic principle onto the scriptural text and its biblical authors that would be otherwise foreign to them. This study asserts that Luther’s exegesis of the Bible’s “letter” (i.e., his engagement with the biblical text) is primarily responsible for his conviction that Christ is Holy Scripture’s literal sense.
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