Dear Katie. Yes, on the way, shortly before Eisleben, I became dizzy. That was my fault. Had you been here, however, you would have said that it was the fault of the Jews or their god. For shortly before Eisleben we had to travel through a village in which many Jews are living, [and] perhaps they have attacked me so painfully. At this time over fifty Jews reside here in the city of Eisleben. It is true that when I passed by the village such a cold wind blew from behind into the carriage and on my head through the beret, [that it seemed] as if it intended to turn my brain to ice. This might have helped me somewhat to become dizzy. But thank God now I am well, except for the fact that beautiful women tempt me so much that I neither care nor worry about becoming unchaste.*
Is Luther here hinting that Katie despised Jews ‘and their god’ ( truly remarkable Marcionite-ish phrase) more than he? Is it worth digging more deeply in Katie Luther’s life to find out? I would think so. Here’s why: Men often are persuaded to viewpoints by their wives (just as wives are by their husbands). I know a man who had fairly common notions of sexuality until he married a woman who had quite ‘open’ views and before long his matched hers in mirror fashion.
Luther here clearly hints that Katie’s attitude towards the Jews was harsher than his own. He says ‘it was my fault’ and then he says ‘however you would have said that it was the fault of the Jews or their god’. Did she persuade him to her views? After all, we are all quite well aware that the ‘Early Luther’ had very decent things to say about the Jews. So what changed?
Things that make you go hmmmm…..
*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 50: Letters III (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 50; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 290–291.