Christian Travelers Guides

Christian Travelers Guides

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Eisleben - where Luther died

Luther Sterbehaus (the house where he died), is located at Andreaskirchplatz 7, which was renovated recently to create an impressive museum. Here you can see the bed in which Luther died which apparently is genuine. At the rear of the house there is also a fascinating mining museum reminding visitors of Luther’s origins.

At the time of his death Luther was visiting the town in an attempt to resolve a property dispute between the local Dukes of Mansfeld. In fact, a few weeks before, Luther had more or less resolved the problem when one of the parties changed his mind and a bitter argument followed. While working on this very practical issue Luther took ill and died.

The house where it was traditionally believed Luther died

Until recently there was no doubt that Luther died at Andreaskirchplatz 7. Then, a few years ago it was established that in fact he died at Markt 56 which is now the hotel Grafen von Mansfeld. Nevertheless, the Luther Sterbhaus Museum is well worth seeing.

The plaque marking the house Luther was supposed to have died
Luther was proud of his origins and spoke of himself as a peasant’s son. In reality, his father was a moderately successful businessman who ran a copper smelting business. His father grew up in the Thüringen town of Möhra, but under Thuringian law it was the younger son who inherited the family estate. Therefore, his father could not take up farming and moved to Eisleben which was then a boom town and centre of the local mining industry.

Once again, we are reminded that when dealing with another age and society, we cannot assume that our own view of the world is the same as the one we are seeking to understand. To the modern mind, Luther’s claim to be a “peasant’s son” plain wrong, just as the genealogies of Jesus found in the New Testament are often said to be “incorrect” because they omit entire generations.

But, in fact, this is the way people in the past though. It is also the way many people today who still live in peasant communities continue to think. To Luther, he was the son of a peasant even if his father was the owner of smelting works. Similarly, the New Testament talks about Jesus was the son of David while at the same time stating quite clearly that he was the son was Joseph. What matters in both cases is lineage not our modern notions of paternity.

To be continued ...

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