Martin Luther and Women: From the Dual Perspective of Theory and Practice

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This thesis argues that Martin Luther did not enforce his own strict theological convictions about women and their nature when he personally corresponded with women throughout his daily life. This becomes clear with Luther’s interactions with female family members and Reformation women. With these personal encounters, he did not maintain his theological attitudes and often made exceptions to his own theology for such exceptional or influential women. Luther also did not enforce his strict theology throughout his pastoral care where he treated both men and women respectfully and equally. Luther’s pastoral work shows that he allowed his compassion and empathy to win over his own strict theological convictions about women. It is important to remember that Luther not only wrote about women in the abstract, but also lived both his public and private life among women. However, there have been no comprehensive studies that have examined his theological writings about women and personal encounters with women. For this reason, fundamental aspects of Luther have remained in the dark. As actions speak louder than words, scholars need to include the practical, as well as the theoretical when analyzing his attitudes towards women. In other words, his theology does not tell the whole story. This thesis explores Luther’s view of women by examining his theology and his personal correspondence. Scholarship has been slow to examine Luther’s attitudes towards women from this dual perspective; therefore, this work provides the comprehensive assessment of both his theory and practice that has been called for by many previous studies. My research not only contributes to a more nuanced understanding of Luther’s theological views on women more generally, but also how those views compare to his actual social encounters with women. This thesis argues that Martin Luther’s personal encounters with women, as well as his theology need to be examined when trying to provide an authentic assessment of the reformer’s attitudes towards women.
Martin Luther, Women, Theology, History, 16th Century, Germany
Jurgens, L. K. (2019). Martin Luther and Women: From the Dual Perspective of Theory and Practice (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from