Martin Luther is a giant among the church's theologians. He is especially known for advocating views such as justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers, which challenged the late-medieval Roman Catholic Church.
Yet the reading of God's Word was what Luther considered his primary task as a theologian—and as a Christian. Though he is often portrayed as reading the Bible with a bare approach of sola Scriptura, without any reference to or concern for previous generations' interpretation, the truth is much more complicated.
In this volume in IVP Academic's New Explorations in Theology (NET) series, Reformation scholar Todd R. Hains considers how Luther read the Bible according to the rule of faith, which guided his interpretation of the text by the church's established practice of hermeneutics as reflected in the Apostles' Creed and the church's catechism.
This study will helpfully complicate your view of Luther and bring clarity to your own reading of God's Word.
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Todd Hains has written an outstanding book about Luther's regular use of the analogy of faith when interpreting Holy Scripture. I commend this project highly. It makes a timely contribution to our understanding of both Luther's biblical exegesis and Luther's catholic, or traditional, approach to inculcating the Christian faith.
—Douglas A. Sweeney, dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
It is widely recognized that Martin Luther was a singularly important contributor to the development of Christian theology and biblical exegesis. Dissatisfied with allegorical approaches to Scripture, Luther insisted on reading Scripture according to the literal sense. A break with the Catholic exegetical tradition, right? At the same time, Luther leveled withering criticisms against the literalist exegesis of his fellow Reformers, most of whom surely thought they were simply following his lead. How to place Luther within the emerging streams of Protestant biblical interpretation? By attending to Luther's exegetical deployment of the analogia fidei, the 'rule of faith' given in the Apostles' Creed, Todd Hains's meticulous study sheds new light on these questions. Sampling Luther's sermons in extenso, Hains will surprise even the seasoned reader of Luther with this thorough demonstration of the prominence therein of the analogia fidei. The result helps us better understand how Luther found himself fighting an exegetical Zweifrontenkrieg against both Catholic allegorizing and Protestant literalizing. The lessons from Hains's study, moreover, extend well beyond this important historical point. The Luther we meet here will challenge all serious Christian readers of the Bible to rethink the place of the 'faith once given' for the exegetical task today.
—Mickey L. Mattox, professor of historical theology at Marquette University
Church history, it has been said, is basically one long interaction of the church with the Bible. If so, the bold, and at times brash words of the sixteenth-century German Reformer Martin Luther have been undoubtedly one of the major voices in this unique colloquy. In this brilliant new study, Todd Hains delineates the various ways that Luther spoke into this centuries-long ecclesial conversazione. His study reveals that the German author, in his use of the rule of faith as an interpretative key, had far more in common with preceding voices and echoes than is usually imagined. He was a truly a Catholic exegete. An important monograph.
—Michael A. G. Haykin, chair and professor of church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary