Luther's Commentary on Paul's Galatians and its Elizabethan translation, John Bunyan's 'wounded conscience', and Arthur Dent's Plaine Mans Pathway to Heaven

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Date
2018
Authors
Titlestad, P J H
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Publisher
Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Abstract
Luther gave his lectures on Paul’s Galatians in 1534. They offered a rather different theology from his thunderous predestinarian refutation of Erasmus in De servo arbitrio (1525). An English translation of the Commentary on Galatians appeared in 1575, a tattered copy of which fell into the hands of John Bunyan in the 1650s, and is mentioned lovingly in his autobiography for its capacity to assuage the troubled conscience. Luther was Bunyan’s coach in his battles with Satan – his doubts about his election: the Apollyon episode in The Pilgrim’s Progress, with its flaming darts, is central to the allegory and its chief link to Luther’s Commentary. How Marxist critics avoid this raises interesting questions about literary criticism. Another issue is whether Bunyan, under the influence of Luther’s Commentary, moves away from the Calvinist scholasticism of Arthur Dent’s The Plaine Mans Pathway to Heaven (1601) and of how his own experience and his pastoral practice came to be modified. Was Bunyan “Lutheran” or Calvinist? Was Richard Greave, our chief student of his theology, on the mark? And did Bunyan undergo something similar to the ‘tower experience’ which later scholars have attributed to Luther?
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Keywords
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION, Erasmus, Apollyon, Marxist literary criticism
Citation
Peter Titlestad, 'Luther's Commentary on Paul's Galatians and its Elizabethan translation, John Bunyan's 'wounded conscience', and Arthur Dent's Plaine Mans Pathway to Heaven', Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 28 (2018): 87-120