Wittenberg: [Melchior Lotter the younger], 1520.
Quarto: 19.8 x 14.8 cm. a4, b6.  p.
A crisp copy in 19th c. colored wrappers. Title a trifle soiled, small dampstain to corner, ink stain on leaf B4. Provenance: Bookplate of the German physician, philologist, and Freemason George Kloss (1787-1854).
"This is the first of four answers by Luther to the bull 'Exsurge Domine' issued by Pope Leo X on June 15, 1520 and published in Germany in September, 1520. The papal bull did not excommunicate Luther but rather condemned forty-one theses taken from Luther's writings as either 'heretical or scandalous or false, or offensive to pious ears, or dangerous to simple minds, or subversive of catholic truth.' Luther was asked to recant these errors within sixty days or face excommunication. Luther proceeded to defend the condemned propositions in two Latin and two German works, [of which this is the first.]
"As far as Luther was concerned, the pope and his bull did not speak for the true church. Rather the bull made it plain that the men in Rome were 'tyrants' and their condemnation of obvious Christian truth would now reveal their tyranny to everyone. His response to the condemnation of his statement, 'Indulgences are a pious fraud practiced upon Christians; they are remissions of good works and belong to the things that are permitted but not necessary,' is very significant. He stated his willingness to recant this proposition, because he now considered it far too mild. Luther was now prepared to say, 'The indulgences are not a pious fraud, but an infernal, diabolical, antichristian fraud, larceny and robbery, whereby the Roman Nimrod, teacher of sin peddles sin and hell to the whole world and sucks and entices away everybody's money as the price of this unspeakable harm.’”
"As far as his conflict with Rome was concerned, Luther appeared to be utterly sure of himself. In fact, the violent opposition from the papacy became for him a vindication of the truth of his cause… And Luther made the source of his confidence very clear. He said, 'I am sure the Word of God is with me and not with them, for I have the Scriptures on my side and they have only their own doctrine. This gives me courage, so that the more they despise and persecute me, the less I fear them.’
"It was this same complete trust in the power of the Word which he expressed in a letter to his friend Spalatin, accompanying his 'Defense and Explanation of All the Articles' (the third of Luther's responses to the papal bull). Referring to Ulrich von Hutten's warlike plans to defend the cause of the gospel by force of arms he wrote, 'You can see what Hutten has in mind. I do not want the gospel to be contested by force and the shedding of blood…Through the Word the world was overcome, through the Word the church was maintained, and through the Word she will again be restored.' It was on this power that Luther relied in his struggle with the papacy." (George Forell, The Concordia edition of Luther’s Works, Vol. 32, pp. ix-xiv).
Benzing 724; Kessler No. 185; VD 16, L3723; Mazzetti, No. 64; Proctor 11903