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God’s Select Vessel And Chosen Instrument: The Interpretation Of Paul In Late Reformation Lutheran Theologians

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Chapter Summary

Paul served as an important partner in the conversation which theologians and preachers from Luther's school conducted with hearers and readers. All in the Wittenberg circle regarded Paul as, to quote Matthias Flacius, "God's select vessel and chosen instrument" (Acts 9:15). Lutherans did not write many biographies. They turned to the history of dogma more naturally than to accounts of personal accomplishment. The relatively few Lutheran commentaries on Acts discussed Luke's reports on Paul's life, as did the Summaries of each biblical book by Nuremberg pastor Veit Dietrich. The sermons provided in postils for that day confirm that Paul's teaching rather than biographical details interested the Lutheran preachers. Like ancient teachers of the church, Wittenberg theologians used rejection of false teaching as a way of clarifying the truth. The Wittenberg circle defined good works by criticizing vices and praising virtues that reflected God's commands whenever Pauline texts permitted.

Keywords: God's select vessel and chosen instrument; Lutheran preachers; Paul; Pauline texts; Veit Dietrich; Wittenberg theologians



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