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"The Truth of the Divine Words": Luther's Sermons on the Eucharist, 1521-28, and the Structure of Eucharistic Meaning

Thomas J. Davis
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 30, No. 2 (Summer, 1999), pp. 323-342
DOI: 10.2307/2544707
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2544707
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

This article examines Luther's preaching on the Eucharist from 1521 to 1528. It finds therein a hierarchy of eucharistic meaning that corresponds to Luther's broader theology in both structure and content. Though much has been made of Luther's fight on a second front in the eucharistic controversies (the issue of presence and its mode), this article argues that, based on these sermons, one sees that presence never supplants the Word as the primary thing of the Eucharist. Though some have argued that Luther's emphasis on presence either distorts his earlier teaching, is a renegade Catholic element, or results in presence supplanting the Word in the structure of his eucharistic teaching, this article reads Luther's sermons in such a way as to see presence as an inherent part of the Word itself, thus clarifying some of the issues involved in the eucharistic controversies. It becomes clear that, for Luther, the real issue is not presence as such but the nature of God and God's revelation.

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