The Reformation: roots and ramifications by Heiko A. Oberman

By Heiko A. Oberman

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27. Luther also hopes for 'improvement' from the renewal of secular law, which is 'better, better-made, more honest than canon law' ('besser, kunstlicher, redlicher . . 31). In 1530, he sees in Electoral Saxony the exemplar of a just government, a renewal of original goodness: 'ein gropes Teil des Himmelreichs Christi in E. K. F. G.

Our concern would be misunderstood if it were interpreted as an attempt to carve Luther up into his sources and his constituent parts. 33 This guiding principle is persuasively developed as a program for New Testament exegesis in Peter Stuhlmacher, Vom Verstehen des Neuen Testaments. Eine Hermeneutik, Das Neue Testament Deutsch, Erganzungsreihe 6, Gottingen 1979, 206fT. THE REFORMATION: THE QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL LUTHER 21 Placing him historically allows us to make distinctions between what is traditional and what is novel, to grasp the revaluation of the old and to discover and evaluate the new.

27 5. The Protestant Breakthrough and the Nominalist 'Principle' The document central to any understanding of the Protestant breakthrough is still (despite repeated objections and misgivings) the retrospective in the preface to the first edition of Luther's Opera Omnia, published at Wittenberg in 1545. This autobiographical piece is rather puzzling, especially because we generally assume that the text is a self-contained whole, without noticing that it is really the final product of a lengthy series of gradually expanding retrospective meditations.

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