De captivitate babylonica ecclesiae

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek


"De captivitate babylonica ecclesiae", in German "Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft der Kirche" (About the Baylonian Captivity of the Church), is one of the main theological works by Luther. Its title refers to the sixth century BC, when Babylonian conquerors drove parts of the population of Judaea into exile to Babylon. Next to "Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen" (On the Freedom of a Christian Person, Res/4 Th.u. 103,VIII,15) and "An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation" (To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Res/Polem. 3126 h) the work counts as one of three of the most important reformatory pamphlets. All three appeared in the second half of the year 1520. In "De captivitate babylonica", Luther for the first time negates the existence of the seven sacraments, of which he recognises only penitence, baptism and the Eucharist. Confirmation, marriage, consecration and the Last Rites he rejected, since they could only be administered by priests. Sacraments instead were signs given exclusively by God. In this argumentation, Luther's fundamental critique of the official Catholic church is expressed. He attacks the competence of priests and the authority of the pope as their head as central points of criticism. The pamphlet became highly popular and was published in several editions that soon followed one upon the other. It was quickly translated into German. Humanist circles and clergymen who had so far been sympathising with Luther, now at least in part turned away from Luther: his theses had become too radical for them. Datum: 2016


Matthias Bader

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