Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mattox, Mickey L.

Second Advisor

Johnson, Mark

Third Advisor

Nussberger, Danielle


This dissertation examines a virtually untouched aspect of Martin Luther's theology: his angelology. Specifically, it argues four main points: that Luther does, over his corpus, present an angelology; that his angelology is indebted to and in conversation with the prior theological tradition; that his concern with the angels is evident throughout his career; and that his major angelological concerns are pastoral in nature. Furthermore, it presents Luther's answers to four basic angelological questions: 1) what are the angels?; 2) what is the angels' role in Creation?; 3) what is the nature of their relationship with humanity?; and 4) what is the nature of their relationship with the church?

The first step taken is to present a brief survey of Luther's angelological context by examining the works of Augustine of Hippo, John Chrysostom, Pseudo-Dionysius, Peter Lombard, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, and Gabriel Biel, and to offer evidence of their influence on Luther on this specific topic. Their answers to these same angelological questions are then discussed.

Luther's answers to these questions are then examined, organized according to different periods in his life: Pre-1526, 1526-1535, and 1536-1545. One major text from each period is singled out for closer examination: his Lectures on Hebrews, Lectures on Zechariah, and Lectures on Genesis. In doing so, this dissertation shows that Luther's angelology can provide major insight into other areas of his overall theology, such as his ontology, cosmology, eschatology, and ecclesiology, but also that his angelology reveals his immersion in the theology of both the early and medieval churches - and is therefore a subject worthy of further exploration.