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Friday, July 20, 2012

Vom Schem Hamphoras – by Martin Luther (a translation, Part 5)

     This continues from Part 4.  See Part 1 for an introduction and Table of Contents.
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Vom Schem Hamphoras
by Martin Luther

(Part 5, continued from Part 4)
     30.  Well, one of the merciful saints among us Christians would maybe like to think that I made it too coarse and inedible against the poor wretched Jews that I act so mockingly and disdainfully with them.  Ah, Lord God, I'm far too low to mock such devils; I would like to do better, but they are far superior to me in derision having a God who is a master in derision, who is called the vexing devil and evil spirit. What I could do to mock him to anger, that I would gladly do as he greatly deserves it.  I want to show you a little (who's noticed this otherwise) of what an unspeakable mocker he is here.
     31.  Three kinds of mockery are brought in this book by the haughty evil spirit. First, he mocks God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and his son Christ Jesus: as you yourself see as a Christian that you believe that Christ is the Son of God. On the other hand, he mocks us, the whole of Christendom, that we believe in such a son of God. Third, he mocks his own Jews and gives them such shameful, foolish, clumsy things, etc., as brazen dogs and cabbage stalks, that even all the dogs would bark to death if they understood such frenzied, raging, senseless, furious, great fools. Is that not a master of mockeries, who can aim such great mockeries with singular ridiculing? The fourth mockery is that he himself is mocked with this, as we, praise God, will see with pleasure on that day.
     32.  So the Jews herewith also mock themselves to the highest degree that they obey the devil, their God, in such mockery and become such raving fools.  Because they do it not in an erring way, but because they know it well, and also because natural reason, given by God, warns, shows, and convinces them that such could not be true; still they tickle themselves thus, doing it gently, and do it with pleasure that they like such shameful, vicious lies and blasphemies against us Christians, and listen, learn and preach that Jesus HaNozri (the Nazarene) is of the devil.  Oh truly, truly, masters and students are gathered together in the right school.
     33.  Further.  Of such mockery they prove truly first their supercelestial mastery since they say that Jesus HaNozri (meaning Jesus of Nazareth) has done miraculous signs with his Schem Hamphoras, which means "the revealed name"; more on this later. Here they confess (like they well must) that the miraculous signs of Jesus HaNozri are valid true signs and they condemn themselves herewith, just as their forefathers in the Gospel, that he had resurrected the dead, made ​​the lame walk, cleansed the lepers, etc. (Matthew 11:5) which are works which belong and are possible only for the one, eternal, divine power; people, even angels, are not able create creatures out of nothing. Such must all reason say.
     34.  Now look with me at the tender little fruits, the circumcized saints; they ascribe such divine works and miracles to the Schem Hamphoras, that is, to the single, dead, wretched letters, in the book thus written with ink, or float on the tongue, or are carried in the heart, also by the godless. For the Schem Hamphoras is what he wants; thus these are and can be nothing else than single, dead, unconscious letters if they would be equal to God's Holy Scripture itself (which is the worse), although the Jews act as though they were the same as God's Holy Scriptures of which they chatter a lot, although they don't know what they chatter about.  Of what should letters benefit as letters from their own strength where nothing more would come in addition?  What help are they for the devil, Turks, Jews and all godless as such letters, also abuse the name of God without ceasing against the other commandment?  It is but Satan and together all godless names and works in sacred letters.
     35.  But the rabid Jews give the Schem Hamphoras divine power, as bare single letters without any promise or commandments of God. Where are they now, the circumcised saints who praise themselves against us Christians that they alone honor the one true God, because the damned Nazarenes worship three gods?  Here they give the divine power and honor to the bare, single, dead letters in the Schem Hamphoras so completely that also the godless one and seducer of divine majesty can resist God's will and prohibition (in the ten commandments), and can do his own works. Oh, they are the Holy God's children that into one God are made so many gods, as many as in the letters of Schem Hamphoras which should be 216, as follows afterwards; that is they worship 216 thousand devils and not the right God which they blaspheme so shamefully with Schem Hamphoras and steal his divine honor and dedicate it to these miserable letters.
     36.  Oh how surely has this happened to the rabid Jews! they did not want to accept Jesus of Nazareth for Messiah and God's son, for with Him they would have remained with the one true God as we believing Christians have.  For it is impossible, that there should or could more the one, the one true God, accept, who accepts Jesus Christ as the Messiah with true faith; on the other hand, it is impossible that he should remain by the only true God, that Jesus Christ not for Messiah accepts with true faith, but he must (as the devil wants) accept strange and many other gods, and they should be vain, dead, worthless letters, or Schem Hamphoras, that is great bags fully piled up with devils.  Yes, such gods the Jews wanted to have instead of the true God in Jesus of Nazareth.
     37.  Here they would like to say:  nevertheless Christians themselves do the same thing, speaking words over water, so it must be a baptism which washes all sin and makes people newborn. Again, with words you make bread and wine into body and blood; again, with words you lay the hand on the head of the sinner and release him from sins. Thus writes your Luther: Whoever would lift a straw in God's Word, would do a better work than are the works of all monks, nuns, bishops, Pope, etc.  Now, yes, the words are nothing other than solitary, mere poor letters: however these words have in themselves the Divine Majesty as sins forgiven, new birth and salvation from death.
     38.  Of this now, Christians have learned sufficiently well, and here is not a need to go into detail; but briefly an overview: Christians say then that water is indeed nothing but water and that words are nothing but single, mere letters, and do nothing to help by their nature, much less does it seem God works in us, for water and letters make no baptism. I've often seen a horse or ox drink a bucket full of water, and if you spoke the same words of baptism over it, the horse drank no baptism and would not be born again -- there is more to it.  Baptism is however such a thing that all devils may not wrap themselves a drop of it, that it should become a noose to them as it would burn them like hell fire; but if they are able, they flee where they see baptism, and may not remain near to it.  Why is this?  Water and letters are for them nothing.
     39.  But because God has commanded and ordained that we should use our hands and tongue in this, and pour the water over the infant with the words or letters that he commanded, and promised and assured us again most certainly that he Himself will be there with his divine grace and power and do such work Himself. Here you attack, that we Christians give no divine power to the water and letters, but we do not say that (it) is our doing, but confess that it is of God alone, and remains, that such is wanted in such a way that it pleased Him, namely through the water and word or letter, and to prove ourselves. That does not mean single letters or just water as the cow drinks, but God himself, connects Himself to us and through us, as if His instrument is being practiced, His grace and power. And thus are both water and letters in baptism (not otherwise) full and rich in God's grace and power, so he has promised and revealed he would do it Himself. "Go, baptize," (he says), not your name, but "in the name of" so that it is the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    40.  Therefore, we also reject the Pope together with all his church, which has filled all the world with the same jugglery, sorcery, idolatry, for he also has to be particularly a "Schem Hamphoras"; as he goes enchanting the water with loose, bare, single letters, pretends it is holy water that washes away the sin, chases away the devil, and has many other virtues; will emulate God, acting like a monkey.  Again, he enchants in the same way the dear wax with empty, single letters and sells it to emperors and kings for holy Agnus Dei, that they should have many, many virtues, feeds himself thereby, indeed was rich in the world truly like arch jugglers, magicians and idols.  So he charmed also caps and plates and all the world with words or letters that they become a monk, nun, priest, to hold and sell masses, call on and celebrate saints, discharge indulgences, adore the dead, serve the devil, namely the heaven where the devil is priest and Pope.
     41.  That he needs to use good words of Scripture, and God's name is the worse; God has not commanded him, but rather severely prohibited it.  It says: "Thou shalt not abuse God's name"; so it is not his strength, but they are single, mere powerless letters.  But sometimes something happens that is not of God but the devil's work, that his lies and sorcery (by imposition of God) to strengthen and to deceive the unbelievers, but to test the faithful and to warn them, as we see that witches and other sorceresses often do great damage. But the Turks also have such foolishness among themselves, leading with wars in the Arabic letters written very beautifully (which I saw many) that by reason of such single, or mere letters, as they call it, good words to holy weapons against peril and to be safe. So the devil fills the world with sorcery, idolatry, foolishness as if he had nothing better to do than to incite special Schem Hamphoras at any place.

.... (to be continued in Part 6)
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From here, in Part 6, Luther will get into the particulars of the letters of the "Schem Hamphoras" that the "HaNozri" (Nazarene) learned... according to the Jewish fable in Part 2 and Part 3.

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