Tuesday, December 23, 2014

HERE I FALL (Roland Bainton's Here I stand on “‘A Mighty Fortress [Ein feste Burg]’ in Luther’s Hand”)

UPDATE, 29 October 2019:  see now Steve Perisho, "Here I fall:  a blunder in Roland Bainton's Here I stand," Theological librarianship 12, no. 2 (October 2019):  5-20.  I'm leaving what follows up until I can find the time to be sure that there isn't information here (including bibliographical information) that got cut out of the published article.

     On p. 371 of his much-beloved Here I stand:  a life of Martin Luther (New York & Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1950), Roland Bainton reproduces “‘A Mighty Fortress’ in Luther’s Hand” (below), citing "Charles Schneider, Luther, poète et musicien [et les Enchiridien de 1524] (1942), p. 71" (409):

The problems with this are at least five in number:  1)
  • we possess no authentic Luther autograph of "Ein feste Burg".  Indeed, the critical editions (e.g. Jenny, 100-101, 247-249, and elsewhere) and (so far as I have been able to gather) the best current scholarship (e.g. Hahn and Lauterwasser, not to mention Leupold on pp. 283-285 of Luther's Works 53) discuss only the earliest printed editions, some of which (even they!) are no longer extant.  Cf. e.g. the other major contender, the (by contrast notation-free) Hermann Kyrieleis forgery of the text discredited by Max Herrmann (Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott) by 1905 at the very latest.  (Gerhardt, at p. 13, below, takes a hint from Herrmann (who says on p. 23 that he found a couple of pages from Kade among the things confiscated from the Kyrieleis home and lying with the acts of the trial) in arguing that the-forgery-of-the-superscript I am discussing here, the one at the head of the Johann Walter "Luther-Codex" published by Otto Kade in 1871, if not actually perpetrated by (a much younger) Kyrieleis himself, served as one of the latter's "Vorlage".  And Koschlig, at pp. 224, 242, and 244 (Abb. 10) follows them both in this, calling it Kyrieleis' "Textmuster".  "Dabei fiel wahrscheinlich der Fälscher auf einen Fälscher herein!" (Koschlig, 224)  But that's not all!  For in 1970, Koschlig, at least (p. 231, note 11), argued against Albrecht (at WA 48 (1927), pp. 289-290 (no. 5)) that the loose leaf inserted at the back of a Luther Bible published in 1534 and bearing a fake Luther dedication to a "Herr von Reuß-Greiz" was the model for the inscription imposed by a second forger on the Kade Codex.  So if Koschlig was right (WA 48 (1972) say?), then Bainton, too, ignoring 1) the rejection of his caption twice present in the source he himself cites (Schneider, below), was, like Kyrieleis himself, deceived by 2) a forger (not Kyrieleis) himself deceived by 3) a forger (also not Kyrieleis according to Koschlig, though Albrecht had attributed it to Kyrieleis)!  WA 48 (1972), by contrast, rejected Koschlig's interpretation, considering it obvious that the Kade forgery and the Reuß-Greiz forgery "stem . . . from different unknown hands" (no. 289 f. on p. 138).  But assuming that the hand on which the Kade forger relied was the hand of a forger, then WA 48 (1972) clearly wasn't reducing the number of forgeries in that one single line of descent.  By the way, according to Koschlig, Kyrieleis himself used or invoked the text of "Ein feste Burg" in at least eight of his forgeries (255, under "Eyn fest Burgh").)  This, by the way (still true in the middle of the second decade of the 21st century for "Ein feste Burg" at the very least), was a red flag already for Georg Buchwald (the first to draw attention to what were later recognized as the specifically Kyrieleis forgeries) in 1896.  For Buchwald "the height of audacity" was the fact that autograph copies of (portions of) no less than four different Luther hymns had suddenly surfaced in three, three, two, and two ("Ein feste Burg") copies respectively, each exemplar of a hymn-text in Luther's hand carefully hawked in only one of three different European cities:  Milan, Münich, and Vienna (Buchwald & Schulz, p. 512).  And that despite the fact that “To my knowledge we possess not a single hymn by Luther in [an] original manuscript.”
  • Schneider, the authority explicitly invoked by Bainton, actually argues against the attribution of the reproduced copy of the text of "Ein feste Burg" to Luther, and in italics no less!  Citing its first publication in France in 1888 (Courtois, 54, and, before that, the Strasbourg dissertation published in 1887), Schneider goes on to say (referencing a comment by (supposedlyLuther himself clearly excluded from Here I stand by Bainton),
     Le choral est donc dédié par Johann Walther à Luther — et non... le contraire.  Fait essentiel, que n'ont pas remarqué — semble-t-il — ceux qui ont certifié que l'œuvre elle-même était de 1530.  Le texte allemand est clair, tout à fait clear:  il ne s'agit pas du manuscrit même d'Ein' fest Burg, mais bien d'une copie qu'a faite Walther et qu'il a offerte au Réformateur.  «Hat myr verehret meyn guter Freund Herr Johann Walther...» (73). 
     The chorale is therefore dedicated by Johann Walter to Luther — and not... the contrary.  [An] important fact that those who have [on the basis of this manuscript] sworn that ['Ein feste Burg'] itself was composed in [était de] 1530 have not, it seems, noticed.  The German text is clear, completely clear:  it is not a question of the very manuscript of 'Ein' fest Burg', but rather of a copy that Walter made and that he [then] offered [back] to the Reformer.  «Hat myr verehret meyn guter Freund Herr Johann Walther...» (73).
The fact that Schneider was wrong to consider the superscript genuine is irrelevant to 2) the fact that Bainton both a) misread him and b) excluded from his own reproduction the complete text of the superscript plainly four times (!) evident in his source.  It is also irrelevant to 1) the fact that we have of course no autograph of "Ein feste Burg".

  • The superscript signed by "Martinus Luther", which is in reality separated from the copy of "Ein feste Burg" by many pages, and was clearly meant to apply to the collection as a whole rather than "Ein feste Burg" in particular, is in factunlike the said collection-in-manuscript itself, the 16th-century Nürnberger Tenorstimme (Germanisches Nationalmuseum M369=Hs83795), "one of the so-called Torgau Walter-Manuscripts""a forgery of the 19th-century" (Blankenburg, 20-21, 255, citing especially Gerhardt; cf. Stalmann, 38), and therefore not genuine at all.  (According to Gerhardt, the Nürnberger Tenorstimme (=Germanisches Nationalmuseum M369 / Hs83795 =the "Luther-Codex" published by Kade in 1871) is an authentic Walter manuscript, over two-thirds of which (including the copy of "Ein feste Burg" depicted above) is in Walter's own hand (=Hand 1 of 15; cf. p. 10, where "Ein feste Burg is unser Gott" appears under "Hand 1").)  In sum, the Codex is a genuine manuscript of the 16th-century, but the superscript signed "Martinus Luther" is a 19th-century forgery.  The Codex was used and added to by the "musicians:  cantors, students, and copyists" of Torgau (Gerhardt, 13) right on up to the end of the 16th century (Walter had ensured for it a long usage by inserting into it a whole slew of blank pages), after which its trail of ownership goes "dark", until it resurfaces with the superscript in the mid-19th century, is purchased for a pretty penny by the publisher H. Klemm, and handed over to the Walter scholar Otto Kade for the preparation of a published edition.  O. Albrecht, writing on p. 290 of WA 48 described it as "lost" in 1927, but by the time Gerhardt wrote in 1949 it had been rediscovered in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, where it remains today.  According to Gerhardt, its whereabouts was lost to Luther research upon the death of Klemm in 1886, and only rediscovered in the context of Walter research in about 1936 (Gerhard (1949), 6-7), though we know now that it was acquired by a H. von Below of Dresden in 1886, and the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in 1893 (Jenny (1983)).
And, finally, 4-5)
  • Bainton obscures the fact that the superscript is separated from the Walter manuscript of "Ein feste Burg" by many pages.  (Relying upon Schneider, who was relying upon Courtois, who was probably relying upon Kade, who did not make this clear in facsimile, Bainton may not have realized this.)
  • Bainton omits all of it (present four times (!) in Schneider, his source) except the signature.  This means that he omits what would make it clear that the claim (of the forger!) is not that it is "in Luther's hand"!
     Courtois (who on p. 53 cites "Deutsche Literaturgeschichte von Robert Kœnig.  Bielefeld et Leipzig. 1881") would have been drawing ultimately upon the first publication of the 16th-century Nürnberger Tenorstimme by Otto Kade.  Yet Kade himself felt it necessary to argue for the authenticity of both Codex and superscript already in 1871 (Gerhardt, ), and questions about the authenticity of both had appeared in print as early as 1874, if not before ("Die Echtheit dieser musicalischen Luther-Reliquie ist von vielen anerkannt, von andern bezweifelt worden.  Namentlich ist die Echtheit des Inscripts nicht ohne bedenken.  —  Vgl. 'Luther und der Sängermeister Johann Walther' im 'Daheim' 1874, S. 102-106" (Holstein, 197)).  As Tomasz Ososinski, citing p. 224 of Koschlig, pointed out to me in a note dated 7 January 2015, O. Albrecht, on p. 290 of WA 48 (1927), the volume of WA devoted to "Uncertain, incorrect, forged", but at that point more especially "Further dubious, incorrect, false" "Bible and book markings by Luther"), writes as follows:
The words on the title page of the so-called Kade Luther-Codex ([see the] more precise details [given] at [WA] 35 (1923), 85-87)—they are no[t themselves a] dedication, but an acknowledgement of [(Notiz über)] a dedication [already] effected [(eine geschehene Widmung)]—exemplify certainly not Luther’s own hand; whether they are an old copy or a new forgery, and what the value of this [now] lost musical manuscript, considered apart from this remark on its title [page (diesem Titelvermerk)], is, have not yet been clarified.
(As I've already noted, the manuscript was apparently not lost, and its value "für die Walter-Forschung [is, unlike the forged Luther superscript,] von großer Bedeutung" (Blankenburg, 21).)
     On pp. 90 ff. of his book Die verräterische Tinte (1958), to which I was first directed by the Polish scholar Tomasz Ososinski (whose inquiry, posted to ATLANTIS by Dr. Mark Glen Bilby, sparked these investigations), Luther specialist Otto Schlisske tells of having been approached in the mid- (on the basis of the publication date of the first German edition of 1952, I would guess rather the very early) 1950s "von einem der namhaftesten deutschen Verleger" (this would have to have been Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), whose translator (this would have to have been Hermann Dörries) had thought there wasn't an extant autograph of "Ein feste Burg", and was checking to be sure that one hadn't turned up in the United States after the Second World War.  Schlisske, who apparently wasn't given a glimpse of the reproduction in [Bainton], responded by forwarding his already published comments on the long-since discredited forgery by Kyrieleis, and communicated his suspicion ("Verdacht") that [Bainton] had been duped by something analogous.  I say "[Bainton]" because Schlisske doesn't actually name anyone in particular, yet reproduces the Bainton caption (as communicated to him by [Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) virtually word-for-word ("'Ein feste Burg von Luthers Hand'").  Not surprisingly then, the first German edition of 1952 reproduces only the text of "Ein feste Burg", but not a reproduction of what Bainton claimed was the original autograph.  (This Schlisske says and I have confirmed.)
     I have been working my way through all of the reviews of Here I stand listed on pp. 133-135 of Cynthia Wales Lund's Bainton bibliography (a list that Lund does not claim is exhaustive), and, though still waiting for a number of them to come in, have yet to encounter a single one that mentions this howler.  Indeed, not even the Germans (not even the church historian and translator Hermann Dörries (for some reason "D. Dörries") of Göttingen, who has to have been the one to raise the question put to Mr. Schlisske (above), and who, writing in the Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte (on whose Board of Editors Bainton was at that time sitting) in early 1951, noted that "A German translation by the reviewer is in press and should be published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht of Göttingen in late summer") do so.
     Nonetheless, reprints as late as the Hendrickson of 2011 have continued to follow Bainton in attributing both script and superscript to "Luther’s Hand", rather than to Walter and company on the one hand, and an as yet unidentified 19th-century forger on the other.  Schlisske says that it was precisely this that, in the late 1950s, prompted him to write his "Kriminalroman der Handschriftenforscher [Max Herrmann]":  "Since then the extraordinarily valuable works [(plural, as in the letter from V & R)] of American scholarship on Luther [that were the subject of the V & R inquiry of c. 1950/52 have] been translated into still more languages.  In this connection I came to realize that [it was] precisely the image of Luther’s ‘handwritten draft of the hymn "Ein feste Burg . . ."' [reproduced therein that] was sensationally [over]valued [(sensationell gewertet wurde)].  [It was] this [that] prompted me to revisit again in depth the superb investigations conducted 50 years ago by Max Herrmann" (92).

     Chap. 21 of Here I stand appeared for the first time "Inadvertently" (Studies on the Reformation, 13) in Church history 17, no. 3 (September 1948):  193-206, as "Luther's struggle for faith", and then, in 1950, in the 1950 Festschrift für Gerhard Ritter zu seinem 60. Geburtstag, ed. Richard Nürnberger, and then, in Collected papers in church history, series two:  Studies on the Reformation.  In that version, reprinted in The Reformation:  material or spiritual (1962) and the two editions of The Reformation:  basic interpretations (1962, 1972), both edited by Lewis W. Spitz, Bainton closes with the words, "What wonder then that Luther, in the year of his deepest depression, composed 'A Mighty Fortress is our God.'"  Only in the biography does he conclude with "What wonder then that Luther, in the year of his deepest depression, composed these lines:", the text in an (his own?) English translation, and the image of A Mighty Fortress’ in Luther’s Hand”.


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