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“Faithful Are The Wounds Of A Friend”: Luther’s Consolatory Letters

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Chapter Summary

The author discusses briefly what kind of rhetorical problem a consolatory letter addresses, and outlines some of what the rhetorical and epistolary traditions in the sixteenth century had to say about consolation, and what connections Luther might have had with them. The author presents an analysis of 20 letters Luther wrote to bereaved parents, spouses, and siblings, all of them of the Evangelical faith. From what we have learned about Luther's characterizations of family members and their uniqueness, we realize that family love is indeed precious, for it schools us in the task of loving a God who first loved us. When we grieve, Luther would have our attitudes mirror that of the distraught father in Mark 9:24, who, with tears, said to Jesus, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief " (KJV).

Keywords: consolatory Letters; epistolary tradition; family love; Jesus; rhetorical tradition



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