Piety and Polemics: Martin Luther's Reform of Christian Practice, 1518-1520


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




From 1518 to 1520, at the beginning of the conflict with Rome, Martin Luther addressed the public in questions of Christian practice in over 20 pamphlets. These writings sold extremely well and made Luther a popular public figure, but they are often overlooked by modern scholars. This dissertation analyzes Luther’s critique of prevalent piety in these works and examines the relationship between these concerns and his theological emphases. Luther's interpretation and re-interpretation of late medieval religious practices illustrate his practical orientation and indicates its importance for the impending theological breach with Rome.