Commonly cited with the German title, Ein Sermon von Ablaß und Gnade, the first edition was issued as, Eynn Sermon von dem Ablasz vnnd gnade … (Wittenberg: Johann Rhau-Grunenberg, 1518). D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe; Schriften; Schriften; 69 vols. (Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–), 1:240ff. (Cited hereafter, WA.)
Johann Tetzel, Vorlegung gemacht von Bruder Johan Tetzel Prediger Orde[n]s Ketzermeister: wyder eynen vormessen Sermon von tzwentzig irrige[n] Artickeln Bebstlichen ablas vn[d] gnade belange[n]de allen cristglaubige[n] mensche[n] tzuwissen von notten (Leipzig: Melchior Lotter, 1518). See note 14 below.
This has been demonstrated particularly in the analysis of pamphlets from the early Reformation era. Mark U. Edwards, Printing, Propaganda, and Martin Luther (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), p. 21.
Nikolaus Paulus, Johann Tetzel, der Ablassprediger (Mainz: Kirchheim, 1899), p. 52. Paulus’ biography covers the whole of Tetzel’s life and provides detailed explanation of his teaching on indulgences. Paulus’ work offered the first reevaluation of the man based on solid scholarship, and it has provided the foundation for all subsequent serious studies. His discussion of Tetzel’s interaction with Luther is found on pp. 45–67 and 80–83.
Scott Hendrix’s Luther and the Papacy: Stages in a Reformation Conflict (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981) is the definitive study of Luther’s developing attitude toward Rome. Pages 34–38 cover specifically Luther’s interaction with Tetzel from 1517 to 1519, but the whole of chs. 2 and 3 chronicles the events from October 1517 to December 1518 and so is germane to Tetzel’s interaction with Luther.
See note 9 below.
Resolutiones disputationum de Indulge[n]tiarum virtute (Wittenberg: Johann Rhau-Grunenberg, 1518). WA 1:523.
Cf. Jared Wicks, Luther’s Reform: Studies on Conversion and the Church, (Mainz: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1992), p. 151. Wicks is one of the most prolific and important Roman Catholic scholars of Luther and of the Roman Catholic responses to him. Part II of this volume includes several chapters on the earliest stages of the Reformation from both Luther’s and Rome’s side. Chapter 7, “Roman Reactions to Luther: the First Year, 1518,” pp. 149–188, discusses the Luther-Tetzel exchange.
Wicks, Luther’s Reform, p.151; Peter Fabisch and Erwin Iserloh, (eds.) Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, (1517–1521) 1. Teil: Das Gutachten des Prierias und weitere Schriften gegen Luthers Ablassthesen (1517–1518) (Corpus Catholicorum: Werke katholischer Schriftsteller im Zeitalter der Glaubenspaltung, 41; Münster Westfalen: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1988), p. 314. (Cited hereafter as Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri.)
        At least one copy of the 106 Frankfurt Theses must have survived the flames for Luther to have read it, since he responds to specific points in his Sermon vom Ablass und Gnade. Paulus discovered and published (1899) the sole extant copy, now in the Bavarian Staatsbibliothek. The 106 Frankfurt Theses are reprinted in Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri (Text 10), pp. 321–337.
See note 1 above.
See note 2 above.
Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, p. 340.
Eyn Freyheyt desz Sermons Bebstlichen ablasz vnd gnad belangend … wider die Vorlegung, ßo tzur schmach seyn, vnd desselben Sermon ertichtett (Wittenberg: Johann Rhau-Grunenberg, 1518). WA 1:380–381.
Tetzel’s 50 Theses reprinted in Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri (Text 12), pp. 369–375.
Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, p. 364.
Tetzel’s pamphlet was published in March or April of 1518. In addition to the copy owned by the Pitts Theology Library, two others are extant and held at the Staatsbibliothek, Munich and at the Universitätsbibliothek, Würzburg.
        Tetzel’s pamphlet was reprinted in J. E. Kapp, Sammlung einiger zum Päbstlichen Ablass überhaupt, Sonderlich aber zu der im Anfang der Reformation zwischen D. Martin Luther und Johann Tetzel hiervon geführten Streitigkeit gehörigen Schriften (Leipzig: Martini, 1721), pp. 317–356; in V. E. Loescher (ed.), Vollständige Reformations-Acta und Documenta (Leipzig: Gross, 1720), I, pp. 484–503; in Walter Köhler (ed.), Dokumente zum Ablassstreit von 1517 (Tübingen/Leipzig: J.C.B. Mohr, 1902; 2nd ed., 1934) (rebuttal 20 incomplete); and Walter Köhler, Luthers 95 Thesen samt seinen Resolutionen sowie den Gegenschriften von Wimpina-Tetzel, Eck und Prierias and den Antworten Luthers darauf (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1903).
        The most recent and best critical edition is that of Fabisch and Iserloh, (eds.), Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri (for full bibliographic citation, see note 9 above), which was intended to correct and expand upon Köhler’s 1903 work, Luthers 95 Thesen and makes readily accessible—some for the first time—Roman Catholic writings of the earliest stage of the Reformation. Its emphasis lies on the historically crucial texts concerning the preaching of the St. Peter’s Indulgence in the dioceses of Mainz and Magdeburg, as well as the earliest Roman reactions to Luther’s 95 Theses, from 1517 to 1519. The editors provide extensive historical background and bibliographical details for each document.
Martin Luther, “Ein Sermon von Ablass und Gnade, 1517,” in D. Martin Luther’s Werke: kritische Gesamtausgabe (Weimar: Herman Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1883– ), 1:239–246.
This quotation appears in Luther’s sermon (thesis 19) and in Tetzel’s Rebuttal. Tetzel’s Latin term doctores and the German Doctorn refer to the most influential teachers of Christendom both ancient and modern. Many of both Luther’s and Tetzel’s arguments are concerned with the authority of the “modern” doctors (e.g., Thomas Aquinas, Peter Lombard)—questioning or affirming it, as well as the reliability of the professors of theology at contemporary universities. Hence the term refers equally to teachers who hold the doctoral degree and to theologians in general. This translation uses both terms interchangeably.
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354–430, church father whose theological and philosophical works have exercised tremendous influence on the development of Christian doctrine, for both Eastern and Western Churches. Luther was a monk of the Augustinian Order, which followed the Rule of St. Augustine. For this citation, see J.-P. Migne (ed.), Patrologiae cursus completus … Series Latina (Paris: Garnier Fratres, 1844–1891), 32:1377–1384 (hereafter cited as PL).
John Wycliffe, c. 1329–1384, Oxford theologian, translator of the Bible into English, critic of the temporal authority of the church. He rejected transubstantiation, purgatory, and indulgences. Though condemned as heretic, he died of natural causes, but his works were formally condemned by the Council of Constance (1414), and his remains were exhumed and burned.
        Johannes Hus (or Jan Huss), 1374–1415, Czech priest, theologian, preacher, and rector of the University of Prague. Influenced by Wycliffe’s ideas on church reform, he led the reform movement in Bohemia. He rejected transubstantiation and demanded communion in both kinds. Summoned to the Council of Constance (1414) under imperial guarantee of safe conduct, he was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.
Master of Hoenszyn or Peter Lombard, 1100–1160, French theologian, known as the Master of the Sentences, as noted in Luther’s opening lines. The Sentences (1157–1158) is a four-volume presentation of the essentials of Christian doctrine. From the early thirteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries, students of theology were required to comment on all or part of this text. As focus of theological study, this work was second only to the Bible. Tetzel is here enjoying some German-Latin word play: Hoenszyn = Master of Gaul = “Haehnchen” (German, “little cock”) = “gallus” (Latin, “cock”).
”… of whom many are saints, etc.” Tetzel uses this phrase several times to strengthen his case for the absolute reliability of certain “modern” doctors, most notably St. Thomas Aquinas, the first University of Paris doctor to be canonized and a fellow Dominican. Thomas’ system of theology has acquired quasi-official status in the Church through repeated formal endorsement by various popes.
The four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose (340–397), Jerome (340–420), Augustine (354–430), and Gregory I (540–604), were proclaimed “Doctors of the Church” by Pope Boniface VIII on September 20, 1295. The title recognized them as the preeminent teachers of the Christian faith.
Tetzel employs a variation of this sentence to conclude each rebuttal. It expresses succinctly and unmistakably his stance on the importance of papal authority and emphasizes his own legitimacy as representative speaker for accepted Church teaching, doctrines which at that very time are being articulated by “trustworthy” academic theologians (cf. note 40 below).
In each of the twenty articles, Tetzel quotes Luther’s sermon first and then proceeds to refute it.
This is Homily 25 in modern editions: Gregory I, “Homilia XXV” in PL 76:1188–1196, quote from 1195. For an English translation, Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies; Dom David Hurst, transl. (Cistercian Studies Series, 123; Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1990), pp. 187–199, quote from p. 197.
Augustine, “De utilitate agenda poenitentiae (Sermo 351, 10)” in PL 39, 1545–1547.
Refers to the practice of the Hussites, followers of the doctrine of Johannes Hus, still viable in areas of Europe at the time of the Reformation.
Cf. Augustine, “Ep. 118 ad Ianuarium,” Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 34 II, 165, 11–14 = PL 33, 202.
Tetzel omits in the introductory formula for rebuttals 11 and 12 his usual “erroneous” jab at the sermon’s articles.
St. Anselm of Canterbury, c. 1033–1109. His Cur deus homo describes Christ’s death on the cross as an act of satisfaction, returning to God the honor stolen by human sin. This passage is found in Anselm, Opera II, 48.74–84.101f., as cited in Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, p. 353, n.52.
“Nemini enim dedit laxamentum peccadi deus, quamvis miserando deleas iam facta peccata, si non satisfactio congrua negligatur.” Cf. Augustine, De poenitentia, ch. 18 (Augustinus, Ench. c. 70), as cited in Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, 354, n.54.
Luther’s word, unleyedlich (“who are sickly”) could refer either to someone’s physical incapacity (sickliness) to practice good works or to a mental or spiritual indisposition (those who find them intolerable).
Pope Innocent III, 1198–1216. Cf. PL 217, 691–702.
Luther refers to the Jubilee Indulgence in thesis 26 of his Ninety-Five Theses, and Tetzel addresses that topic in thesis 33 of his 106 Frankfurt Theses. For details, see W. Lurz, “Heiliges Jahr II” in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (1993), 4:1325.
Urban IV, Pope 1261–1264, French, never resided in Rome. Innocent VI, Pope 1352–1362, French, acted severely toward the Spiritual Franciscans. Aquinas served as theological counselor to this papal court in Viterbo.
St. Jerome, “Epistula ad Damasum (No. 15),” Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (Vindobonae: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1996), 54:62–67.
Tetzel is referring to his forthcoming, disputation-document, “50 Positiones,” a second series of fifty theses in Latin that he (rather than Wimpina) would write. Printed in late April/early May, no original copy exists. Reprinted in Dokumente zur Causa Lutheri, Text 12, pp. 369–375.
Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. Tetzel quotes the opening words of the “Introduction” (“Out of love and zeal for the truth …”), and the complete thesis 95 (“And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace”).
Note Tetzel’s subtle but crucial variation of his concluding formula, from “all Christian” to “all trustworthy Christian” (unvordechtig = trustworthy, above suspicion) and his insertion of it three times into the body itself of this rebuttal 20. Note also his inclusion of the formula (unchanged) within the body of rebuttal 16 above (cf. note 24 above).
In this final reference to Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, Tetzel omits the opening phrase quoted in paragraph one above, and cites instead the beginning of the first thesis (“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’”).