Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Ecotheology Issue 9 July 2000

Martin Luther's Understanding of Sin's Impact on Nature and the Unlanding of the Jews

Bret Stephenson, Susan Power Bratton
Issued Date: 4 Mar 2007


Often cited as a precursor to the Holocaust, Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish polemic proposed complete exclusion of the Jewish people from German society. Histories of anti-Semitism and social critiques of the Reformation usually credit Luther’s antagonism to Jewish unwillingness to become Protestant or to his christological interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. Dan Cohn-Sherbok quotes passages in Luther’s writings condemning the Jewish people as foreigners who are in league with the devil. Luther’s rejection of Jewish residency in the ‘Christian’ landscape, however, suggests that the reformer’s view may be linked to his creation theology. Further, Gerhard Falk points out that Luther objected to Jewish claims to Canaan and Jerusalem, which Luther treats as an actual landscape, as well as to Jewish claims to descent from the Patriarchs, election by God, and possession of a God-given law. The purpose of this study is to investigate Luther’s views about the relationship of sin or religious apostasy to nature and residence in fertile landscapes, and to compare his beliefs about Judaism to those concerning the natural order. By investigating the doctrine and hermeneutics of an influential Protestant reformer, this analysis identifies historic ecotheological concepts that may encourage environmental racism.

DOI: 10.1558/ecotheology.v5i2.84


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