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Is it true that Luther removed James, Jude, and Revelation from the New Testament? If this is true then what were his reasons for doing so?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Martin Luther disliked James, in particular, for its emphasis on works. He called it his "epistle of straw." That said, there is simply not a mechanism for removing anything from the canon in Christian circles.

The canon is simply the consensus on what is best. The marks of canonicity are settled, insofaras there is basically consensus. (Okay, there is a question about those 7 books between Protestants and Catholics, but it is a very, very minor point) Indeed, if Luther were to publish "his canon" at best he could only have said, "this is Luther's canon." And there is evidence he wished he could, but again, he couldn't.

I have no doubt that Luther preached very rarely on these books - but he simply did not have the standing to "remove" them from the canon. It would be like one person saying, "Harry Potter is not on the best sellers list." He might think it shouldn't have been, but he simply doesn't have the standing to say.

Finally, there is a deragatory term "canon within the canon," which refers to a person's favorite books within the canon - the ones he or she may elevate over others. That Luther suredly had. His canon within the canon was Paul's epistles - but that doesn't mean he could downgrade the status of the others.

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"About this book of the Revelation of John, I leave everyone free to hold his own opinions. I would not have anyone bound to my opinion or judgment. I say what I feel."( Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 35: Luther's works, vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.) (398). Philadelphia: Fortress Press. ) I suspect Luther said similar things about other books as well. I'm not sure if this compliments or contrasts your answer. –  fredsbend Aug 6 '13 at 21:21
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