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Luther, Martin (1483-1546)

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Books & Manuscripts - 2483
Date / Time :
November 15, 2009 11:00AM


Luther, Martin (1483-1546), Rare and important autograph letter signed, St. Franciscus, 1581, one page, in German, discussing upcoming events and mentioning his public debates with Papal legate John Eck, "In Nuremberg they think he is not so much in favor of our Wittenberg views...The persecutors congregate like wolves ready to devour a lamb...", framed with an 18th century portrait after R. Houston, (laid down around edges and with fold separations, dampstaining, edges trimmed).

Translated text: Greetings! I arrived in Nuremberg on St. Franciscus day. I found some excellent men, and some who are rather timid in my cause, so much so, that they even try persuade me not to go to Augsburg. But I remain firm while mentioning these things. God's will be done. I shall go and see those grand marvelous sights. Also in Augsburg, in the very midst of his enemies, Jesus Christ will reign. Our Eck is not as well spoken of here as I should like. In Nuremberg they think he is not so much in favor of our Wittenberg views, that he should not seem ready to cause ill will against the Wittenberg theologians. I shall be very much displeased with him unless I learn something different. The suspicion is heightened by this book I send you, compiled by some elegant by more than heathenish babbler. You will see, that either he himself, or his adherents operate against us, or at least intend to; but he himself most of all is in the way of his good name. Tomorrow I shall go to Augsburg with our Mr. Wenceslaus and some other friends, although I have been told that an exceedingly strong will is being prepared for me there. The persecutors congregate like wolves ready to devour a lamb. May Christ live, but Martin and every sinner die, as it is written. May all the sinners and wicked perish from the earth, so that they may be no longer. But the God of my salvation be praised. Fair you well and hold out, knowing that our work must need be reproved, either by men or by God. God, however, is true, but man is false. Nuremberg. M. Luther. 1518, on St. Franciscus day [October 4].

Lost between the years 1719 and 1960, this remarkably rare letter was acquired by the father of the present owner. It is reference in the Weimar Briefwechsel, no. 96, reproducing only the first and last paragraphs. The Weimar editors took their material from Christian Eberhard Weissmann's Introductio in Memorabilia Ecclesistica Historiae, Stuttgart, 1719, 134 und 2. There is great conjecture as to the name of the book and its author, the "heathenish babbler" referred to in paragraph 2. As Eck was beginning to lose face around this time period, it was originally surmised that Luther was referring to Eck's Obelisci, but Luther had referred to this work some months previously.
Estimate $15,000-25,000

laid down around edges and with fold separations, dampstaining, edges trimmed


John Eck, Nuremberg, Jesus Christ, Houston, Stuttgart, Christian Eberhard Weissmann