November, 1517

Luther writes to George Spalatin, explaining his reluctance to share a satirical dialog with Spalatin and the 95 Theses with Elector Frederick. Meanwhile, in Berlin, Johann Tetzel (1465-1519), the general subcommissary for the sale of indulgences in the church provinces of Magdeburg, has learned of the 95 Theses, and is reported to have said: "In three weeks…

November 6, 1517

Father Martin Luther writes to Elector Frederick concerning a promised new monk's habit and an impending tax. This is the earliest extant letter of Luther in German; all earlier letters were written in Latin. Quotation: Most gracious and dear lord, Elector Frederick of Saxony[1]: About a year ago your Grace promised me, through Dr. Hirschfeld,[2] a…

October 31, 1517

Martin Luther posts 95 theses on the door of All Saint's Church (the "Castle Church") in Wittenberg as an invitation to a Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.[1] Within a few months, the 95 Theses will be translated from Latin into German and widely distributed throughout Europe. However, there is no evidence that the formal…

October 31, 1517

Martin Luther, Professor of Bible, writes to Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz to discuss some issues regarding the indulgences that are being preached and sold in Albrecht's territory. Quotation: To the Right Reverend Father in Christ, Lord Albrecht, Archbishop of Magdeburg and Mainz, Margrave of Brandenburg, esteemed lord and shepherd in Christ: The grace of God…

September 11, 1517 (Part 2)

Luther writes to Christoph Scheurl in Nuremberg, reporting on the disposition of some books Scheurl had sent him and enclosing the 97 theses from the Disputation against Scholastic Theology held one week earlier. On Sep 30, Scheurl will reply that "I will send your Propositions on Scholastic Theology to Eck, and would like to send them…

September 11, 1517 (Part 1)

Luther writes to Christoph Scheurl in Nuremberg, explaining that he has nothing to write, but enclosing the 97 theses from the Disputation against Scholastic Theology held one week earlier. Quotations: To my highly esteemed Herr Christoph Scheurl, my greeting. Although I have no pretext for writing to such an excellent man as you, still I think…

September 4, 1517

Franz Günther defends the 97 theses of the Disputation Against Scholastic Theology [1] in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Holy Scripture at the University of Wittenberg. The disputation was chaired by Martin Luther, Dean of the Faculty of Theology. Quotation: Hope does not proceed from merits, but from sufferings which abolish merits.…

September 4, 1517

Luther writes to John Lang in Erfurt, explaining the documents he had sent him and offering to defend the 97 Theses against Scholastic Theology before the Erfurt faculty. Quotations: Greeting. I have sent to you by Beckmann [1] my Theses against Scholastic Theology [2] and my sermons on the Ten Commandments,[3] but I did not…

Late August, 1517

Luther invites George Spalatin and others to supper (or brunch?). Quotation: To my friend Spalatin, at the castle, Salvation! See that you, with the Father Confessor [1] and his friend, come about nine o’clock.[2] If Herr Christopher, the ambassador,[3] is with you, bring him also. Otherwise, our friend Otto [4] has been told to invite…

July 16, 1517

Luther writes to John Lang, the prior of the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, describing preparations for a graduate disputation. Quotations: "I am preparing six or seven candidates for the master's examination, of whom one, Adrian,[1] is preparing theses [2] to shame Aristotle, for whom I want to make as many enemies and as quickly as…