regular preaching on the ―catechism‖ (usually defined as the Ten Commandments, Apostles’. Creed, Lord’s Prayer and, sometimes, the Ave Maria).
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The Large Catechism The material in the Large Catechism originated as sermons by Martin Luther on the basic texts of Christian teaching. Already in the Middle Ages, some regional synods in Germany had called for spread throughout the church year, were often designated for this purpose. Even before the , also seems to have followed this practice. Luther himself preached on various portions of the catechism as early as 1518. 1 doubtless carried on this practice. In 1528, with Bugenhagen temporarily away reforming the city of Braunschweig, of afternoon sermons (from 18 May to 30 May, from 14 September to 25 September, and from 30 November to 18 December) survive. 2 They Catechism and help explain its p ersonal, homiletical style. Publication of the Large Catechism or, as the printers titled the early editions, the German Catechism , arose out of the need for instruction of the simple, often poorly trained clergy in the basics of the faith. In the summer o f 1527, the elector of Saxony authorized an official visitation of churches in his territories. The team of visitors, which consisted of two representatives from the court and two from the university (one from the law school and one theologian), was charge d with overseeing the financial and physical needs of the parishes and clergy and with investigating the state of instruction there. Philip Melanchthon, who served as the first representative from the theological faculty, drew up guidelines in Latin for th e examination of Visitation Articles . A team of theologians, including 1 See, for example, (1519) (WA 2:80 130; LW 42:15 81), and A Personal Prayer Book (1522), which included sermonic material from 1519 on the Ten 406; LW 43:5 45). 2 WA 30/1: 2 122. For a translation of the third series, see LW 51:135 93.

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Melanchthon, Luther, and Bugenhagen, translated the document into German and refined it, publishing it in early 1528 as Instructions by the Visitors of Parish Pastors in Electoral Saxony . 3 While this document served as an important synopsis of Reformation teaching and practice, it was not without its detractors. Already in 1527, John Agricola, a student of Luther serving as rector of the Lat in school in Eisleben, attacked the Latin version and its author, Melanchthon. Agricola insisted that true repentance could not arise from fear of punishment but only from love of God (a position that placed the gospel before the law). Luther provided comp romise language which pointed out both that repentance could arise from both fear and love and that, while a general faith in God might be said to precede repentance, it was best to view faith as following repentance. Agricola had also authored three popul ar catechisms that reflected many of his views. Philip Melanchthon, urged on by George Spalatin at the Saxon court, started to write an exposition of the chief parts of the catechism in response. He broke off his work at the third commandment, probably bec ause Luther himself had begun to write his own catechisms in late 1528. The amount of space Luther devoted to the Ten Commandments and his discussion of faith, fear, and love indicates his position in this early controversy involving Agricola and Melanchth on. The Large Catechism also provided an additional means of instructing the clergy. Luther began writing the Large Catechism shortly after completing the second series of catechetical sermons in September 1528. In December, after completing his third seri es of sermons, he revised what he had written about the second and third commandments based on commandments had already been printed, he added new comments on th ese texts at the end of the section on the commandments. 4 By January, work on the Large Catechism had progressed of March. The resumption of his work on the Large Catechism coincided with his preaching for Holy Week, 1529 (21 week strongly influenced the material in the Large Catechism on those themes. 5 German Catechism appeared by mid – April 1529. He immediately set about revising his work, adding the section on confession (based upon the aforementioned Holy Week sermons) 6 The printer, George Rhau, added a series of woodcuts from the workshop of Lucas Cranach Sr. 7 The 1530 edition contained for 3 WA 26:195 240; LW 40:265 320 , correcting the translation of the title in LW. 48 (especially 30 48), with 311 33. 5 WA 29:132 381. For a translation of these sermons, see The 1529 Holy Week and Easter Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther , trans. Irving S. S andberg (St. Louis: Concordia, 1999), 29 79. 11. 7 For a description of these woodcuts, see the notes to the Small Catechism.

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during the Diet of Augsburg. 8 The edition of 1538 was the last to be published lifetime that contained minor corrections by him. The Latin translation by Vincent Obsopoeus appeared in 1529. The translator created a showpiece in Latin style by adding classical citations and allusions to ancient history. It influenced, among other things, the first edition of John Institutes of the Christian Religion . The Book of Concord from 1580, by including the catechisms of Luther, followed the example of several corpora doctrinae (standard bodies of doctrine) from the tim e. The catechisms represented a Bible for the laity because they dealt with material necessary for each Christian to know. 9 which had reversed the order of the two prefaces and om itted the section on private confession. In contrast, the present translation follows the text of the second, revised and expanded version of 1529. The Large [German] Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther 1 It is not for trivial reasons t hat we constantly treat the catechism 2 and exhort and implore others to do the same, for we see that unfortunately many preachers and pastors 3 are very negligent in doing so and thus despise both their office and this teaching. Some do it out of their great learnedness, while others do so out of pure laziness and concern for their bellies. They approach live off the fat of the land, as they were used to doi ng under the papacy. 8 See below, pp. 379 83. 9 See Ep, Rule and Norm, 5, and SD, Rule and Norm, 8. 1 In the Book of Conc ord, this longer preface (from 1530), which is addressed to preachers and pastors, followed the shorter one (from 1529) in accordance with the order in the fourth German volume of the German Book of Concord (1580). imparted in religious instruction. 3 Preachers ( Prediger ) were appointed to the preaching office; pastors ( Pfarrherren ), i n addition, were entitled to perform other pastoral acts and exercised the full ministerial office.

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Everything that they are to teach and preach is now so very clearly and easily presented in so many salutary books, which truly deliver what the other manuals promised in their titles: 4 Yet, they are not upright and honest enough to buy such books, or, if they have them already, to consult or read them. Oh, these shameful gluttons and servants of their bellies 5 are better suited to be swineherds and k eepers of dogs than guardians of souls and pastors. Now that they are free from the useless, bothersome babbling of the seven hours, 6 it would be much better if morning, noon, and night they would instead read a page or two from the catechism, the Prayer Book, 7 the New Testament, or some other passage from the Bible, and again show honor and respect to the gospel, through which they have been delivered from s o many burdens and troubles, and they might feel a little shame that, like pigs and dogs, they are remembering no more of the gospel than this rotten, pernicious, shameful, carnal liberty. As it is, the common people take the gospel altogether too lightly, and we accomplish but little, despite all our hard work. What, then, can we expect if we are slothful and lazy, as we used to be under the papacy? Besides, along comes this horrible vice and secret, evil plague of security and boredom. Many regard the cat echism as a simple, trifling teaching, which they can absorb and master at one reading and then toss the book into a corner as if they are ashamed to read it again. Indeed, among the nobility there are also some louts and skinflints who declare that they c an do without pastors and preachers now because we now have everything in books and can learn it all by ourselves. So they blithely let parishes fall into decay and brazenly allow both pastors and preachers to suffer distress and hunger. 8 This is what on e can expect of crazy Germans. We Germans have such disgraceful people among us and have to put up with them. But this I say for myself: I am also a doctor and a preacher, just as learned and experienced as all of them who are so high and mighty. Neverthel ess, each morning, and whenever else I have time, I do as a child who is being taught the catechism and I read and recite word for word 4 Titles of widely distributed medieval sermon books. 5 This pejorative term, which was widely used in the Reformation, is derived from Romans 16:18 * . 6 T he seven canonical hours, daily prayers prescribed in the medieval breviary. 7 Luther published a Personal Prayer Book in 1522 to supplant the Roman Catholic prayer and devotional books (WA 10/2: 375 501; LW 43:3 45). 8 Luther wrote in Against Hanswurst (1 541) (WA 51:486, 27 33; LW 41:198 fast, but (with St. Paul [1 Cor. 4:11 * ]) we suffer hunger. We see it daily in our poor ministers, their wives and children, and in many other poor people, whose hunger stares at you out of th eir eyes. They scarcely have bread and water, they go about naked as a jaybird, and they have nothing of their own. The farmer and the burgher give them nothing, and the nobility take, so that there are only a few of us who have something, and we cannot he

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study the catechism daily, an d yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the catechism and I also do so gladly. 9 These fussy, fastidious fellows would like quickly, with one reading, to be doctors above all doctors, to know it all and to need nothing mor e. Well and his Word. They do not need to fall, for they have already fallen all too horribly. What they need, however, is to become children and begin to l earn the ABCs, which they think they have long since outgrown. 10 be convinced and believe that they are not really and truly such learned and exalted doctors as they think. I implore them not ever to imagine that they have lear ned these parts of the catechism perfectly, or that they know them sufficiently, even though they think they know them ever so well. Even if their knowledge of the catechism were perfect (although that is impossible in this life), yet it is highly profitab le and fruitful to read it daily and to make it the subject of meditation and conversation. In such reading, conversation, and meditation the Holy Spirit is present and bestows ever new and greater light and devotion, so that it tastes better and better an d is digested, as Christ also promises in Matthew 18[:20 * Nothing is so powerfully effective against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts Psalm 1[:2 * 9 This longer preface to the Large Catechism was presumably written by Luther at the Coburg in 1530 while his associates were attending the Diet of Augsburg. He wrote in his commentary on Psalm 117 (WA 31/1: 227, 13 22; LW 14:8), which was al anyone; for here am I, an old doctor of theology and a preacher. . . . Yet even I must become a child; and , and whatever lovely psalms and verses I may choose, just as we teach and train children to do. . . . I study * 20 For where two or th Matthew 18:20 (NRSV) * 2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. Psalm 1:2 (NRSV)

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you will offer up no more powerful incense or savor against the devil than to occupy yourself true holy water and sign that drives away the devil and puts him to flight. 11 For this reason alone you should gladly read, recite, ponder, and practice the c atechism, even if the only advantage and benefit you obtain from it is to drive away the devil and evil such as about Dietrich of Bern, 12 but, as St. Paul says in Romans 1[:16 * 13 and gives us immeasurable strength, comfort, and help. a ccomplishes, where would I find enough paper and time? The devil is called a master of a thousand arts along with all his cunning and power? Indeed, it must be maste r of more than a hundred thousand arts. And should we so flippantly despise such might, benefits, power, and fruit especially we who want to be pastors and preachers? If so, we deserve not only to be given no food to eat, but also to have the dogs set upon us and to be pelted with horse manure. every day in order to stand against the daily and incessant attacks and ambushes of the devil with his thousand arts. If th suffice to compel us. For God solemnly enjoins us in Deuteronomy 6[:7 8 * ] that we should 11 Holy water was believed to drive away evil spirits and was used in the rite of exorcism. 12 Luther frequently cited the legend of Dietrich of Bern as an example of lies and fables. Dietrich of Bern is the name popularly applied in medieval Teutonic legends to Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. * 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NRSV) 13 * 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead,

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experience and are certain that they have taught the devil to death and have become more learned than God himself and all his saints. If they show such diligence, then I promise them and their experience will bear me out that they will gain much fruit and God will make excellent people out of them. Then in due time they will make the noble confession that the longer they work with the catechism, the less they know of it, and the more they have to learn. Only then, hungry and thirsty, will they for the first time truly taste what now they cannot bear to smell because they are so bloated and surfeited. To this end may God grant his grace! Amen. Preface 17 This sermon has been designed and undertaken for the instruction of children and the uneducated. Hen that is, instruction for children. 18 It contains what every Christian should know. Anyone who does not know it should not be numbered among Christians nor admitted to any sacrament, 19 ju st as artisans who do not know the rules and practices of their craft are rejected and considered incompetent. For this reason young people should be thoroughly taught the parts of the catechism (that is, instruction for children) and diligently drilled in their practice. Therefore, it is the duty of every head of a household at least once a week to examine the children and servants one after the other and ascertain what they know or have learned of it, and, if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully a t it. I well remember the time when we found ignorant, old, elderly people who knew nothing of these things in fact, even now we find them daily yet they still go to baptism and the sacrament 20 and exercise all the rights of Christians, although those wh o come to the sacrament certainly should know more and have a deeper understanding of all Christian teaching than children and beginners in school. As for the common people, however, we should be satisfied if they learned the three parts 21 that have been in Christendom from ancient days (although they were rarely taught and treated correctly), so 17 This was the original brief preface of 1529, based on a sermon of 18 May 1528. 18 The Greek noun katechismos is derived from the ver b katechein, question – and – answer form, that was required of catechumens before baptism. Only later did it come to refer to a b ook containing such instruction. 19 This was not only a proposal of Luther, but also a medieval prescription. . Catechetical instruction in Wittenberg was not expanded

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that all who wish to be Christians in fact as well as in name, both young and old, may be well trained in them and familiar with them. They are as follows: 22 F irst: The Ten Commandments of God 23 The first: You are to have no other gods besides me. The second: You are not to take the name of God in vain. The third: You are to hallow the day of rest. 24 The fourth: You are to honor father and mother. The fifth: You are not to kill. The sixth: You are not to commit adultery. The seventh: You are not to steal. The eighth: You are not to bear false witness against your neighbor. The tenth: You are not to covet his wife, male or female servants, cattle, or whatever is his. 25 Second: The Chief Articles of Our Faith I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit , born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under 22 The wording of the five parts given here does not always agree with that which appears further on in the Large Catechism. Nor does it al ways correspond with the wording in the Small Catechism or with 23 Exodus 20:2 17 * ; see Deuteronomy 5:6 21 * . 24 German: Feiertag 25 In numbering the commandments, Luther follows the t raditional numbering of the Vulgate, not the numbering of the Hebrew Bible followed by Ulrich Zwingli and other Reformed theologians, who used the prohibition of images (which Luther viewed as an expansion of the first commandment pertaining to the Israeli Supper.

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Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again from the dead; ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from where he w ill come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian church, 26 the communion 27 of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and a life everlasting. Amen. Third: The Prayer, or Our Father, Whi ch Christ Taught Our Father, you who are in heaven, may your name be hallowed. May your kingdom come. May your will come about also on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And remit our debt, as we remit our debtors. And lead us not into temp tation. But deliver us from evil. Amen. 28 These are the most necessary parts that we must first learn to repeat word for word. The children should be taught the habit of reciting them daily, when they arise in the morning, when they go to their meals, an d when they go to bed at night. Until they recite them they should be given nothing to eat or drink. Every head of a household is also obliged to do the same with the servants, male and female, and should dismiss them if they cannot or will not learn them. Under no circumstances should those people be tolerated who are so crude and unruly that they refuse to learn these things. For in these three parts everything contained in the Scriptures is comprehended in short, plain, and simple terms. Indeed, the dear Fathers or apostles (or whoever they were) 29 thus summed up the teaching, life, wisdom, and learning that constitute the When these three parts have been understood, it is appropriate that one ought also t o know what to say about our sacraments, which Christ himself instituted, baptism and the holy body and blood of Christ, according to the texts in which Matthew and Mark describe at the end of their Gospels how Christ said farewell to his disciples and sen t them forth. Concerning Baptism 26 It was common in fifteenth – century German ecclesiastical use to translate the Latin ecclesia catholica by christliche Kirche, and Luther follows the cus tomary wording. 27 German: Gemeinschaft. See below, p. 435, where the word Gemeine is used. 28 Matthew 6:9 13 * ; see Luke 11:2 4 * . 29 Luther was not interested in refuting legends of apostolic authorship, which held that each of the twelve apostles cont ributed a particular phrase to the Creed.

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30 It is enough for an ordinary person to know this much about baptism from the Scriptures. The same applies to the other sacrament, mentioning a few, simple words according to the text of St. Paul. Concerning the Sacrament covenant in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you 31 Thus we have, in all, five parts covering the whole of Christian teaching, which we shou ld constantly teach and require recitation word for word. For you should not assume that the young people will learn and retain this teaching from sermons alone. When these parts have been well learned, one may assign them also some psalms or hymns, 32 based on these subjects, to supplement and confirm their knowledge. Thus young people will be led into the Scriptures and make progress every day. However, it is not enough for them simply to learn and repeat these parts verbatim. The young people should also attend sermons, especially during the times when preaching on the catechism is prescribed, 33 so that they may hear it explained and may learn the meaning of every part. Then they will also be able to repeat what they have heard and give a good, cor rect answer when they are questioned, so that the preaching will not be without benefit and fruit. The reason we take such care to preach on the catechism frequently is to impress it upon our young people, not in a lofty and learned manner but briefly and very simply, so that it may penetrate deeply into their minds and remain fixed in their memories. Therefore we shall now consider the above – mentioned parts one by one and in the plainest manner possible say about them as much as is necessary. 30 Matthew 28:19 * ; Mark 16:16 * 31 1 Corinthians 11:23 25 * 32 Luther himself wrote six hymns based on the parts of the Catechism. 33 In Wittenberg, preaching on the Catechism was required four times a year by the Church Ordinance of 1533.

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