May 16, 2017

DEMOCRACY, CAPITALISM AND PROTESTANTISM:

On the Reformation's 500th anniversary, remembering Martin Luther's contribution to literacy (Richard Gunderman, 5/15/17, The Conversation)

Gutenberg's earlier introduction of the printing press in 1439 made possible the rapid dissemination of Luther's works throughout much of Europe, and their impact was staggering.

Luther's collected works run to 55 volumes. It is estimated that between 1520 and 1526, some 1,700 editions of Luther's works were printed. Of the six to seven million pamphlets printed during this time, more than a quarter were Luther's works, many of which played a vital role in propelling the reformation forward.

Thanks to Luther's translation of the Bible, it became possible for German-speaking people to stop relying on church authorities and instead read the Bible for themselves.

Luther argued that ordinary people were not only capable of interpreting the scriptures for themselves, but that in doing so they stood the best chance of hearing God's word. He wrote,

"Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture."

Luther's Bible helped form a common German dialect. Prior to Luther, people from different regions of present-day Germany often experienced great difficulty understanding one another. Luther's Bible translation promoted a single German vernacular, helping to bring people together around a common tongue.

This view, combined with the wide availability of scripture, shifted responsibility for scriptural interpretation from clerics to the laity. Luther wanted ordinary people to assume more responsibility for reading the Bible.

In promoting his point of view, Luther helped to provide one of the most effective arguments for universal literacy in the history of Western civilization.

At a time when most people worked in farming, reading was not necessary to maintain a livelihood. But Luther wanted to remove the language barrier so that everyone could read the Bible "without hindrance." His rationale for wanting people both to learn to read and to read regularly was, from his point of view, among the most powerful imaginable - that reading it for themselves would bring them closer to God.

The End of History is just the marketization of politics, economics and religion.
Posted by at May 16, 2017 5:40 AM

  

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