Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kenneth Hagen

Second Advisor

Oliver K. Olson

Third Advisor

Joseph T. Lienhard

Fourth Advisor

Patrick Carey


Serious challenges to the assumption that Luther had captured Paul's theology of justification emerged earlier in this century, and the challenges sent scholars back into the study of primary Luther sources. Luther scholar Paul Althaus, a Protestant, came to the conclusion that Luther and Paul were different in their understanding of Romans 7, and debate ensued. While this study does survey this literature, it attempts to examine the Luther-Paul relationship from another vantage point--how they use Scripture to support their theologies. At stake is the faithfulness of both Paul and Luther to the overall message of Scripture--to its wholeness. The primary Luther text studied in the dissertation is from the his Lectures on Galatians. 1535, Galatians 3('14b), and the text has been summarized in standard German literature by the phrase Christus contra Scripturam (Christ against Scripture). Luther urged Christ against Scripture and claimed to be on the side of its Author and Head. Some of the modern interpreters of Luther have utilized Luther's rule to ascertain that Luther interpreted subjectively and arbitrarily. One thesis of this dissertation, however, is that a proper understanding of Luther's regula shows that for him interpreting Scripture was not arbitrary. As the Bible's center and core, the gospel, including the law-gospel distinction, came out of the Scripture and showed Luther how to read its parts. The primary Pauline text studied is Galatians 3('6-14). Through a study of Hebrew and Greek resources, it is asserted in this dissertation that Paul read Scripture according to his soteriological-christological gospel, which included a law-gospel distinction. A second thesis, then, is that Paul was a biblical theologian who gathered together the full range of Scripture into a biblical theology. The thesis of this dissertation, therefore, is that neither Luther nor Paul miss the wholeness of Scripture, and that Luther is essentially in accord with Paul in his method of biblical interpretation. Paul, as a biblical theologian, serves to pull the various parts of Scripture into a whole for Luther. While Luther follows Paul in his biblical theology, the influence of other New Testament writers upon him is not excluded on the basis of this thesis.



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