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Foto Weijenborg Reinhold , Recensione: ULRICH BECKE, Die Welt voli Teufel. Martin Luther ah Gegenstand psychohistorischer Betrachtung, in Antonianum, 58/1 (1983) p. 160-162 .

In this doctoral dissertation in theology, written under the guidance of professors S. Pfurtner (Catholic) and H. Liebing (Lutheran) at the University of Marburg the Author examines Luther's psychology according to the most important testimonies and studies on the subject from 1524 till now. In eight chapters he gives by means of short, but well chosen and revealing quotations the contents of some 115 studies on Luther's physical and psychic disturbances. The authors who receive a more ample treatment are R. Weijenborg (p. 117-131), P. J. Reiter (p. 136-147; 206-216) and E. H. Erikson  (p.  159-180;   188-205). Usually Dr. Becke expresses a very fair judgment on the opinions he does examine. His own contri­butions to the progress of science are numerous. In the first place he recalls   with   0.   Clemen,   against   H.   Grisar   and   several   others,   that Luther according to the oldest evidence of Paul Bachmann from 1524 in the choir of  the  Erfurt  conventual   church  did  not   cry  in   1505:   « I am not  [understand:   possessed  by  the   devil]»,   but   simply:   «I   am not mute ». He thinks that this latter cry is « essentially more harmless » than the former (p. 46). It is, however, clear that according to Weijen­borg the most serious problem for Luther in  1505  was  his  unhappy concealment of what had happened at Stotternheim. With the consent of the same Weijenborg, Dr. Becke communicates some explications which the latter gave him in letters written from 1977 till 1980. Moreover the Au­thor proves with felicitous comparisons of texts that. E. H. Erikson in his Young Man Luther. (New York 1958), depends for his description of Luther upon what he had written in Childhood and Society  (1950)  on Adolf Hitler (p. 177) and upon what A. Kubizek  in  1953 had  told of the latter in his Adolf Hitler mein Jugendfreund (Graz 1953; p. 176-177). From this dependence there results  the danger of a contamination  of the two stories. The Author, then, critically examines the book edited by R. A. Johnson, Psychohistory  and  Religion.   The   Case   of  Young  Man Luther, (Philadelphia, Md., 1977), which studie sthe psychology of Luther suggested by Erikson and indicates some of its weak spots. But the most important contribution of Dr. Becke to the discussion of Luther's psycho­logy consists in the fact that, having found by his  own  research  the unedited 1000 page study Martin Luther, The story of the development of his personality and religious ladership, written by P. J. Reiter in the sixties and left by him  in this  English version  at  his   death  in   1973, he communicates a part of its contents; among other things he notices that Reiter saw himself indebted to Weijenborg (1956) and Erikson (1958) for the provocation radically to revise his own previous conclusions (p. 207). Dr. Becke's own conclusion is  «pastoral ». He does not seek what Luther called his devils, but how he lived with them (p. 225). He thinks that the Reformer «found a way to live with his anguish» and  that he overcame it « in his faith in the Word, in the work for his cause, in intimate love for his family and in friendly solidarity with them, who were on the way with him » (p. 226). So the Author seems particularly to ap­preciate the cure Luther applied not to the cause, but to the symptoms of his disturbances.

 


 


 
 
 
 
 
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