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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Martyrs 5a: Leonhard Kaiser–researched Scriptures; (better research than Kolb)

[2017-04-12 - see addendum note at bottom.]
This continues from Part 4 (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Pastor Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Part 5 begins the story of the German Leonhard Kaiser (or Kayser).  —  There is an article on him in the German Wikipedia here.

The record of Kaiser comes from none other than Martin Luther himself – see the "Annotation" at the end for references, especially the St. Louis edition version.  Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no English translation of Luther's full account of Kaiser (none in the current American Edition), but there is a free English translation of Luther's letter to Kaiser here (Currie) or paid book here (Tappert, pg 213).  —  This synopsis of Luther's full account by the dear Hermann Fick fits our needs for an English language version... perfectly!  And this will take some time for it is more than 4 times the length of the previous stories.  So I am providing this in a sub-series of several blog posts, starting with this Part 5a.
*Note: I may add in some of the footnotes along the way from the St. Louis edition (sorry Weimar Ausgabe-WA enthusiasts).
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
by C.J. Hermann Fick [after Luther]
(tr. by BackToLuther)
V. (a)
Leonhard Kaiser (Kayser).
"Christ, you must suffer with me."
(Leonhard on the way to death by fire.)
Luther himself has described and published the martyrdom of this faithful witness.  "I reckon, he remarked here, that we who want to be Christians, may not withhold such a glorious confession of the truth without sinning, so this Leonhard Kaiser has acted from God’s great grace; and we ought to thank God for His lavish grace that He has with our faith and teaching wanted to strengthen and comfort you with such a grand, beautiful example at this time of trouble, since so much abomination and offenses rave and rage against the salutary Word of God.
"Ah, Lord God! the most beautiful articles are but that, over them the pious Kaiser has shed his blood and given his life; condemned as a heretic on earth, but in heaven glorified as a true martyr.  O dear Lord Jesus Christ!  Help us by your Holy Spirit (after such an example) also to confess you and your Word with steadfast faith before this blind disobedient world, and forgive the miserable tyrant who, together with their multitude, such their sin, and enlighten all erring [Page 17] and seduced hearts with the light of your grace, and be with us poor ones, that ye take care of us and should keep pure and blameless in your future. To you be praise and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit in eternity. Amen.
Leonhard Kaiser came from an honest, well-known family of Raab, near Passau, Bavaria.  He was for 7 years the Vicar at Waizenkirchen, leading a respectable chaste life, and he was held dear as a pious priest, honored and valued by all.  At an early stage he came to the knowledge of the truth by Luther's writings and proclaimed the same also to his parishioners.  Wherefore, and because the parish income decreased remarkably, his parish priest, the canon Berger, hated him, and charged him by the bishop of Passau, who had him thrown into prison.  There he was tempted to deny the love for life.  He had to promise to leave the Lutheran and evangelical doctrine, and received his freedom from prison after three days.
Kaiser now returned to Waizenkirchen, back to his vicarage. But he had no more rest because his conscience continually reproached him. After six years, he could finally stand it no longer; he resigned and went to Wittenberg. Here he saw what he had long intimately desired, Doctor Martin Luther face to face, visiting his lectures with burning zeal and unwearied diligence, and enjoyed his closer contact.  Inflamed by his joyous faith, his love for the pure doctrine increased from day to day.  At the same time, for day and night, he researched the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, to be always certain of his faith. [Ref. Luke 24:27, John 5:39, Acts 17:11, Rom. 4:3]
Thus about two years had elapsed that he received one day a letter from his brothers from Bavaria, where they urgently asked him to return as soon as possible and visit his ailing father who wished fervently to see him yet before his death.  Driven by filial love, he immediately hurried to Raab and had the good fortune to see his father alive.   But just two hours after his arrival, the father breathed his last.  Kaiser also became dangerously ill and had to stay five weeks in his father's home.  Through this it happened that his presence soon became known to several and also finally came to the attention also of the priest of that place. The priest immediately showed [Page 18] to the bishop of Passau that Kaiser was a secret propagator of the Lutheran doctrine.  Then came a command just before he was able to leave again, from the authorities at Raab to take him into custody.  This so happened straight away and after a three-day-long custody in his father's town he was in the district court of Schärding on the 10th of March, 1527, and was led away during the day by water passage to Passau.
– – – – – – – – – – –  Cont’d in Part 5b   – – – – – – – – – – – –
5. Kaiser.  Source: Luther's Works, Walch Edition (W1): vol. 24. pg. 143 [?? -unknown?  ==> but see this: vol. 21, pg 173 ff.]: "Luther’s thorough study of the blessed story of Leonhard Kaiser in Bavaria, who was burned for the sake of Gospel.". [see St. L. ed. vol. 21a, col. 946 ff (letter No. 1086); also Weimar Ausgabe (WA), vol. 23, pg 452 ff.]
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Dr. Robert Kolb 
and true research.
If one researches "Lutheran martyrs" by Google, one inevitably runs into a book on martyrs published in 1987 (For All the Saints) by Robert Kolb, former director of the "Center for Reformation Research" at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis,  In his Preface, he says:
     In the autumn of 1976, a seminarian came to the Center for Reformation Research with a question about a "Lutheran Martyr" of 1525 named Leonhard Kayser. Kayser had escaped my notice, and I voiced a suspicion to the student that Kayser was no martyr but rather a peasant who had gotten caught in a sweep of rebel territory by the nobles. The student had a reference from a martyrbook by a man named Ludwig Rabus, who had also escaped my notice; so I agreed to pursue the matter. To my surprise, I found the first of the Protestant martyrologies by Rabus, a student of Luther and Melanchthon and a south German reformer of some importance in the Late-Reformation period for the cities in which he served, Strassburg and Ulm. It did not assuage my curiosity to learn that few others engaged in the study of the Reformation had heard of Rabus or his martyrbook. My curiosity had been piqued...
Kolb then goes on in his book to research and reveal more information on "Protestant martyrologies", particularly that of Ludwig Rabus.  But it strikes me that such a scholar, the director of the "Center for Reformation Research", would be so ignorant of Lutheran martyrs when his own "Missouri Synod" had published an extensive series on the Lutheran martyrs – the book by C.J. Hermann Fick?   Maybe he could not understand the German language... oh, that can't be true for he is a noted theological scholar.  Had this knowledge "escaped his notice" because he ignored his own heritage?  ... Fick's book was right there in his own library (also the St. Louis edition index volume 23)...  to get the basics of Ludwig Rabus' work, he didn't even need to go to Washington, DC, or to Ulm or Strassburg or Wolfenbüttel Germany, or consult with "Reformation" scholars worldwide..., he didn't need a Google Books, or WorldCat catalog, or HathiTrust digital library, or an Internet Archive... the short answer was just a few steps away from his desk!  And Hermann Fick made extensive use of Ludwig Rabus' martyrbooks.  Could it be that even though Fick's book was a few steps away from Dr. Kolb, rather his own LC-MS was in reality a long way from the old (German) Missouri Synod?  Oh, let's see, Dr. Kolb does give Fick an "honorable mention"on pages 7-8:
"While ... popular German works on Christian saints and martyrs mentioned Rabus on rare occasions even into the twentieth century [* footnote 14], his name disappeared from some of the basic reference works of nineteenth-century German Protestantism.  He has fared little better in twentieth-century scholarship."
     * Footnote 14: Rabus made an impact on the German Lutheranism of the American frontier: C.J. Fick, educated in Göttingen, pastor in Missouri, used Rabus in Die Märtyrer der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche, Bd. 1 (St. Louis: Niedner, 1854), VI-VIII.
OK, so to Dr. Kolb, the old (German) Missouri Synod was a "German Lutheranism of the American frontier", and the author was a "C.J. Fick" (actually it was C.J. Hermann Fick), and his book was just a "popular German work"... not a vaunted "basic reference work of nineteenth-century German Protestantism"?   What an honor for the old (German) Missouri Synod!... to even get a footnote mention (with an error on the author's name) by Dr. Robert Kolb, director of the "Center for Reformation Research"...  Could it be that Dr. Kolb's "research" is not like that of Kaiser's research of the Scriptures, where Kaiser did it "to be always certain of his faith"?  Could it be that Dr. Kolb's research was more to impress the world with his knowledge of "the Reformation"?

I think I will mostly ignore Dr. Robert Kolb in my research just as he ignored the old (German) Missouri Synod in his "research"...  oh, I might grant him a footnote.  I will rather pay attention to Hermann Fick, C.F.W. Walther, the St. Louis edition of Luther's works, and... Martin Luther.  But I will likely have more to say about Kolb's book later.  —  In the next Part 5b, I continue my translation of Fick's story (according to Luther) of Leonhard Kaiser.

[2017-04-12: There is a Der Lutheraner article on Kayser, vol. 28 (1871-72), No. 19, July 1 p. 145-148 -- here]

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