Above all else that the sixteenth-century German Reformer was known for, Martin Luther was a Doctor of the Holy Scriptures. One of the most characteristic features of Luther's approach to Scripture was his resolved christological interpretation of the Bible. Many of the Reformer's interpreters have looked back upon Luther's "Christ-centered" exposition of the Scriptures with sentimentality but have often labeled it as "Christianization," particularly in regards to Luther's approach of the Old Testament, dismissing his relevance for today's faithful readers of God's Word.
This study revisits this assessment of Luther's christological interpretation of Scripture by way of critical analysis of the Reformer's "prefaces to the Bible" that he wrote for his translation of the Scriptures into the German vernacular. This work contends that Luther foremost believes Jesus Christ to be the sensus literalis of Scripture on the basis of the Bible's messianic promise, not enforcing a dogmatic principle onto the scriptural text and its biblical authors that would be otherwise foreign to them. This study asserts that Luther's exegesis of the Bible's "letter" (i.e., his engagement with the biblical text) is primarily responsible for his conviction that Christ is Holy Scripture's literal sense.
"Marsh has provided fresh insight on Luther's hermeneutics and his preaching, especially of Old Testament texts. Marsh focuses on Luther's own words to understand what the reformer taught about a Christian reading of Scripture. This is an excellent contribution to the contemporary discussions."
--Jason K. Lee, Professor of Theological Studies, Dean, School of Biblical and Theological Studies, Cedarville University
"Through a close and learned reading of key texts in the reformer's canon, William M. Marsh shows that Christ is the focus of Luther's interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Martin Luther on Reading the Bible as Christian Scripture makes an important contribution to our understanding of Luther's biblical theology and hermeneutics. By linking the human witness to Christ with the word of God, Marsh demonstrates theologically how in Luther's thought the Bible's truth is connected to the living reality of Christ."
--Christine Helmer, Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research Professor, Professor of German and Religious Studies, Northwestern University
"In this volume William Marsh explores the manner in which Luther listened to and conveyed to others this conviction that God converses with his people in and through The Book. . . . A rewarding read indeed!"
--Robert Kolb, from the foreword
William M. Marsh is Assistant Professor of Theology in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.