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Friday, December 25, 2015

"Here I Stand" historical controversy (response) (Part 1 of 3)

      A comment came in on my last post that I could not let pass by:

Carl Vehse has left a new comment on your post "Luther–Walther–Pieper: Scripture rule, not Frozen ...":

Like a number of other "quotes" attributed to Dr. Martin Luther, the legendary "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise." (also available on socks from the CPH) may not have been said by Luther at the 1521 Imperial Diet of Worms. Different publications include or don't include that statement, as noted in a March 4, 2014, comment elsewhere.
Historian Diarmaid MacCulloch claims Luther’s “Here I stand” quote was later added by Georg Rörer, the editor of Luther's collected works.
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I was aware that there is some controversy about whether Luther actually said these words to the 1521 Diet of Worms.  One of the commenters to the 3-minute YouTube video clip pointed this out.  “Valteron8” asserts:
“ most historians, Luther never said ‘here I stand’ at this meeting.”

“Valteron8” even goes further than your comment where you only mention one historian, and you sort of admit that it “may” be true; no, “Valteron8” says “most” historians disagree with this account.  Surely we would not want to appear uninformed on this important matter.  I had to burst out laughing when a subsequent response to this assertion came from “Syler Womack”:
“Meh, neither did Elsa…" [i.e. Queen Elsa (Disney) from Frozen’s song “Let It Go”.]

And a recent corroboration of your comment comes from James Reston’s similar report in his book Luther’s Fortress on page 39:
“The widely quoted, famous phrase “Here I stand. I can say no more,” which is often attributed to Luther at the end of his speech, is now largely discounted by modern historians.”

And again, another naysayer was published by Fortress Press, 1981. Dr. Scott Hendrix is quoted by Christianity Today as saying: "The earliest printed version of Luther's address added these words, which were not recorded on the spot. It's possible they are genuine, but for almost a half century now, most scholars have believed they were probably not spoken by Luther." (Note that Hendrix allows that it is possible. It is interesting that Hendrix says "for almost a half century now"... hmmm, that would be just about when Franz Pieper died in 1931.)
Although I was originally sad to receive your comment, now I am glad to have been given the impetus to further consider this issue.

I must say that on the face of it, the claims of a “legend” or “myth” seem quite preposterous.  Why?  Because this event was witnessed by perhaps the widest and most prolific audience in all of the world in its day.  So it would seem that if someone, such as George Rörer, inserted and published this phrase “Here I stand…” when it was not actually spoken at the Diet of Worms in 1521, then it would have been reported as such by other Lutherans.  Have any “modern historians” actually found this to be the case? ... or is it such that only “modern historians” are reporting this as a myth or legend?
As I reviewed again the words that the actor for Luther spoke in the film, I wonder now that the American Lutherans Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, Theodore Tappert (and Oswald C.J. Hoffmann) largely referred to the translation of Ernest George Schwiebert to be the English language screenplay for this 3-minute scene of Luther standing before the Emperor Charles. CPH published Schwiebert 's well-known work Luther and His Times in 1950, 3 years before the film was released.
Now I will present my 3 witnesses to the truth of the "Here I stand" controversy... in the next Part 2. ... and a fourth witness tacked on in the concluding Part 3.

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