3 ago. 2013

An incongruity in LW

LW 48, Letters I, pp. 163-165 (extract):
To George Spalatin
Wittenberg, May 31, 1520
Luther is asking Spalatin to forward some letters for him. He reports on rumors concerning the University of Leipzig and complains about the inefficiency of the Wittenberg city government.
On George Spalatin, see pp. 8 f.
Text in Latin: WA, Br 2, 111.
To my dearest friend in the Lord, Master George Spalatin, court chaplain and secretary, a most honest friend

Greetings. I am enclosing letters to Hutten, Sickingen, and our Taubenheim, my Spalatin. Please take on the job of forwarding them; try especially to see that Taubenheim gets his at once, since I have delayed longer in answering him than he perhaps has expected. Lonicer will finish his work tomorrow.4 The people of Leipzig, anxious to retain students, boast that Erasmus is coming to them. How busy, and yet how miserable, envy is! When they derided us a year ago as being “extinct,” they did not foresee that this very cross would hang over them too. The Lord rules so we can feel it.It is said that Ochsenfurt arms himself against Feldkirch’s little book, in which he was ridiculed.8 I have completed something in German against the ass Alveld; it is already being printed.9 Advise me whether I should write to the Sovereign for his help in our city affairs. Everything is very expensive, the supplies brought in are insufficient, nor is anything administered properly in this most confused and careless city. Something could be accomplished at Wittenberg, were there any order in the city government. Here there is need for the counsel and authority of the Sovereign. Please answer.
Wittenberg, May 31, 1520
Martin Luther

John Lonicer, an Augustinian from Eisleben who was then studying in Wittenberg for his Master’s degree, was Luther’s famulus, or private assistant; the famulus assisted the professor in return for tutoring. Under Luther’s guidance, he wrote a sharp pamphlet against Alveld (see note 9), who had attacked Luther’s view on the primacy of the pope. Luther is referring to this work. For the bibliography, see WA 6, 279; On Lonicer, who later became a professor in Marburg, see WA, Br 2, 99, n. 10.
John Bernhardi of Feldkirch (not to be confused with his brother Bartholomew Bernhardi; see p. 115, n. 21) wrote a pamphlet against Alveld (see note 9) in which he also attacked Dungersheim. John Bernhardi was a student of Melanchthon and in a short time became professor of philosophy at the University of Wittenberg. In 1531 he was president of the University. See C. R. 1, No. 75; O. Clemen (ed.), Supplementa Melanchthoniana, 6, I, 103 f.
Von dem Papstum zu Rom, wider den hochberühmten Romanisten zu Leipzig (The Papacy at Rome: An Answer to the Celebrated Romanist at Leipzig) (Wittenberg: M. Lotther, June, 1520). WA 6, 285 ff.; PE 1, 337 ff. Asked by the Bishop of Merseburg to defend the primacy of the pope, Augustine Alveld, a Franciscan of Leipzig, published an attack in 1520 against Luther; for the bibliography, see WA 6, 277. Lonicer and John Bernhardi assumed the task of answering Alveld. While they were working on their rebuttals, Alveld published a second attack against Luther, this time in German; for the bibliography, see WA 6, 280. Luther felt compelled to answer, which he did with the work mentioned; it was completed on June 26.

Briefwechsel, 2. Band, Briefe 1520–1522
Gustav BebermeyerOtto Clemen
Nr. 291.
Luther an Spalatin.
Wittenberg, 31. Mai 1520.
Schickt Briefe an Hutten, Sickingen und Hans von Taubenheim zur Beförderung. Lonicers Entgegnung werde morgen fertig. Studentenschwund in Leipzig. Ochsenfart rüste sich gegen Joh. Bernhardis Confutatio. Luthers “Von dem Papsttum zu Rom”. Ob er den Kurfürsten um Maßregeln gegen die Teuerung und ungenügende Lebensmittelzufuhr bitten solle.
Original in Zerbst. Gedruckt bei Aurifaber 1, 267; de Wette 1, 451; Enders 2, 405.
Absender: Luther, Martin
Empfänger: Spalatin, Georg
[1] Suo in domino Chariss[imo] Magistro Georgio Spalatino, Ducalibus a
[2] Sacris & literis, integerrimo Amico.
[3] Ihesus.
[4] Salutem. Mitto literas, mi Spalatine, ad Huttenum, Siccingensem
[5] & Taubenheymium nostrum; tui, quaeso, sit officii oportune eas curare,
[6] praesertim, vt Taubenheym suas statim habeat; distuli enim ipse diutius
[7] quam forte sperauit. Lonicerus crastina absoluetur. Lipsenses, anxii pro
[8] retinendis scholaribus, iactant Erasmum ad sese venturum. Quam
[9] negociosa & infelix tamen est inuidia! Ante annum, cum nobis insultarent
[10] quasi victis, non preuidebant hanc sibi crucem impendere. Dominus
[11] regnat, vt palpare possimus. Ochsenfartius dicitur armari contra libellum
[12] Veltkirchensis, quo traductus est. Ego vernaculam absolui in Alueldensem
[13] asinum; iam sub praelo nascitur. Consule, an scribendum mihi sit principi
[14] pro re publica nostra iuuanda. Omnia fiunt carissima, nec satis aduehitur,
[15] nec legitime quicquam administratur in hac confusissima neglectaque
[16] politia; posset aliquid fieri Vittenbergae, si administrationis esset vllus
[17] ordo. principis hic & consilio & autoritate foret opus. Responde & vale
[18] Vittenberge Quinta pentecostes 1520.
[19] Martinus Lutherus
But in LW 39, Church and Ministry I, pp. 52-53:
«Luther simply jotted down a few counterarguments for his famulus John Lonicer, who published his reply on May 12, 1520, under the title Against the Romanist Friar Augustine Alveld, Franciscan from Leipzig, Public Lecturer of the Canon of the Bible and Torturer of the Same (Contra Romanistam fratrem Augustinu Aluelden, Franciscanu Lipsicu Canonis Biblici publicu lictore & tortore eiusdem). Printed by John Grünenberg in Wittenberg, it was a satirical commentary on Alveld’s work, homing in on its stylistic and logical weaknesses. Lonicer concluded with the statement that Luther had better things to do than to argue against such an ass. Henceforth Alveld was known in Wittenberg as the “ass of Leipzig”.»


So, if Lonicer published his work on May 12, Luther could not refer to it in his letter of May 31 saying that "Lonicer will finish his work tomorrow". This must be other work, perhaps his Master dissertation (?).

Moreover, note that in his letter Luther employs the word “absoluetur” (from the latin verb absolvo, in Future Tense / Passive Voice / Indicative Mood). This verb also means “to set free, release, discharge”. Consequently, Luther could speak of Lonicer’s departure, giving up his responsibilities as Luther’s “famulus” on June 1.

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