"Defender of the Most Holy Matriarchs": Martin Luther’s Interpretation of the Women of Genesis in the Enarrationes in Genesin, 1535-1545
This work examines Martin Luther’s interpretation of the female characters in the stories of Genesis, drawing attention to his appropriation of premodern catholic interpretations of the biblical “saints.” In Luther’s hands, many of these women became heroic examples of the godly life newly adapted to the worldly asceticism of emerging Protestantism. Their everyday sanctity, exercised for the most part within the limits Luther believed God had imposed on their sex, displayed the kind of piety he thought should animate Christian women in their own households. Two chapters evaluate Luther’s interpretation of Eve, noting his understanding of the ideal relations between men and women. Five further chapters examine Sarah, Hagar, Rachel, the daughters and wife of Lot, and Potiphar’s wife.