If there was one person who could be said to light the touch-paper for the epochal transformation of European religion and culture that we now call the Reformation, it was Martin Luther. And Luther and his followers were to play a central role in the Protestant world that was to emerge from the Reformation process, both in Germany and the wider world. In all senses of the term, this religious pioneer was a huge figure in European history. Yet there is also the very uncomfortable but at the same time undeniable fact that he was an anti-semite. Written by one of the world's leading authorities on the Reformation, this is the vexed and sometimes shocking story of Martin Luther's increasingly vitriolic attitude towards the Jews over the course of his lifetime, set against the backdrop of a world in religious turmoil. A final chapter then reflects on the extent to which the legacy of Luther's anti-semitism was to taint the Lutheran church over the following centuries. Scheduled for publication on the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation's birth, in light of the subsequent course of German history it is a tale both sobering and ominous in equal measure.
Thomas Kaufmann is Professor of Church History at University of Gottingen.
Introduction: 'Luther's Jews' - an unavoidable topic 1: Neighbours yet strangers - Jews on the fringes of Luther's world 2: The Church's Enemies - Luther's early theological position on the Jews 3: The Jews' Friend? Luther's 'Reformation' of Attitudes towards the Jews 4: Hopes disappointed, expectations fulfilled: The late 1520s and the 1530s 5: The Final Battle for the Bible: Luther's Vicious Writings 6: Mixed Responses: The History of the Reception of Luther's Attitude to the Jews from the 16th to the 20th Century Conclusion: A Fallible Human Being Sources and bibliography Index