Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Martin Luther had a great admiration for Bernard of Clairvaux. In his commentary on Galatians, Luther wrote that Bernard "was a man so pious, holy, and chaste that I think he deserves to be put ahead of all other monks." In his commentary on the Gospel of John, Luther wrote that Bernard "is the only one worthy of the name 'Father Bernard' and of his being studied diligently." In his commentary on Genesis Luther wrote, ''I prefer Bernard to all the others for he had the best knowledge of religion as his writings show." Such admiration results from a theological agreement that Luther found with Bernard as Jean Leclercq and Franz Posset point out. But, as Frank Senn reminds us, Luther's theological work proceeded from his spiritual struggles. I believe that Luther's admiration for Bernard also came about as a result of his spiritual struggles and that Luther looked to Bernard as a model for his own spirituality. In order to show this, we will first briefly examine Luther's spiritual struggle, look at his introduction to Bernard, and see how both Luther and Bernard operated with a similar Law - Gospel spirituality. Then we will discover from Luther's own writings how he viewed Bernard as a source of spiritual counsel.