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Martin Luther's Conception of fascinare (Gal. 3:1)

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The evil eye belief is a universal phenomenon and present in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testament. Christian scholars have usually discussed this phenomenon in their comments on Gal. 3:1. Luther, for example, concentrated on the manifold notion of the bewitchment of the evil eye (Gr. βασκαÍνω, Lat. fascinare, Ger. bezaubern; Gal. 3:1) in his Scholia (1516), Commentary (1519), and Large Commentary (1531/1535) on Galatians. Luther understood fascinare as a higher-level concept that included witchcraft (e.g. harming through the evil glance) and both psychic and spiritual disturbance. Luther's interpretation of this concept is fascinating mix of folklore, Biblical scholarship and the perspectives of ancient authors. In spite of the many similarities between the different Commentaries, there were also differences—especially between early Commentaries (1516, 1519) and the Large Commentary (1531/1535). I will prove in detail how Luther contextualized the evil eye belief to his various comments on Gal. 3:1 and who and what were his models in doing this.

Affiliations: 1: University of Helsinki, Helsinki Finland


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