The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER TWELVE: Luther Sets Pattern for Reformation Interpretation

I. Luther’s Deep Interest in Prophecy

In a letter to his friend Johannes Lang, dated December 18, 1521, the idea of translating the New Testament appears for the first time: “I want to translate the New Testament into German.... I only wish that this one book could be in everybody’s mouth and everybody’s hand, and before the eyes and ears of everybody, and in everybody’s heart.” In eleven weeks he completed this huge task. On the sixth of March he took the manuscript from Wartburg to Wittenberg. 1 Since it left the press in September, 1522, it was sometimes called the Septemberbibel. 2 PFF2 266.1

In his refutations of the attacks against him by Rome-inspired writers, he had made use of the prophecies, first against Catharinus as previously mentioned. But now, when translating the Bible, his interest in the prophecies received a new impetus. He began to dig more deeply into their secrets, and after having translated four of the prophets, he was so much impressed by the prophecies of Daniel that he hastened its publication in order that Daniel might do its good work among rulers and people before the mighty and terrible day of the Lord should overtake the world. 3 In this sense he wrote to another friend, Nicolas Hausmann, “We are working on the book of Daniel, which is a great consolation in these last days.” 4 The distraught condition of the world, he explained, and the unparalleled tribulation brought by the pope and Mohammed, led him to decide to publish Daniel without waiting: PFF2 266.2

“These and similar thoughts caused us to publish this prophet Daniel before the others, which have to be published still, that he [Daniel], may see the light of day before the elements shall melt, and he may do his work and console the distressed Christians for whose sake he was written and spared to these last days.” 5 PFF2 267.1