Martin Luther’s Extraordinary Epithets & Insults

Martin Luther’s Extraordinary Epithets & Insults August 13, 2020

Some Typical Examples

Luke 6:45 (Phillips): . . . For a man’s words express what overflows from his heart. (cf. Matt 12:37)

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Luther described Catholics as “the devil’s whore-church” (Grisar, IV, 288) who “stuff our mouths with horse-dung” (Grisar, IV, 321), along with hundreds of other similar denigrations unworthy to repeat save for their tragi-comic and psychological value. Here are some of Luther’s typical descriptions of various Catholics:

Crowned donkey, abandoned, senseless man, excrement of hogs and asses, impudent royal windbag, arrant fool. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing King Henry VIII)

Liar, mad bloodhound, murderer, traitor, assassin of souls, arch-knave, dirty pig and devil’s child, nay, the devil himself. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing Joachim I, Elector of Brandenburg)

Mad, bloodthirsty murderer, a blind and hardened donkey, who ought to be put to scratch for dung-beetles in the manure-heaps of the Papists. (Grisar, IV, 302; describing Hoogstraaten, a Cologne Dominican)

Stick your tongue ________. . . You are a sickly, syphilitic sack of maggots. (Grisar, IV, 304; describing Pope Leo X or another pope)

Fellow Protestant revolutionary (aka, “reformer”) Heinrich Bullinger gives telling testimony regarding Luther’s Language:

He sends to the Devil all who do not entirely agree with him. In all his fault-finding there is an immense amount of personal animosity, and very little that is friendly and paternal . . . Too many — are the preachers who have gathered out of Luther’s books quite a vocabulary of abuse, which they fire off from their pulpits . . . Through the evil example of such preachers the habit of reviling and slandering is spreading . . . and most clergymen nowadays who wish to appear good ‘evangelicals’ season their preaching with abuse and calumny. (Janssen, III, 211)

SOURCES

Hartmann Grisar, S. J., Luther, translated by E. M. Lamond; edited by Luigi Cappadelta, six volumes, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1917.

Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the Close of the Middle Ages, 16 volumes, translated by A. M. Christie, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1910 (originally 1891).

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(originally compiled on 6-11-91)

Photo credit: Portrait of Martin Luther (1532), by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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