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).
(tr. by BackToLuther)
Leonhard Kaiser (Kayser).
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."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"?
* 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.
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]