Martin Luther: Ninety-five Theses

(1517)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Nailing a document such as the Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church was not a particularly unusual act in Martin Luther's day. The door served as a kind of billboard, and it was a common way to announce a meeting to discuss matters concerning Christendom and Christianity. It is uncertain whether Luther actually nailed the document to the church door or simply sent it to select bishops, including Albert of Mainz, the German nobleman who took part in the Tetzel scheme for selling indulgences. The document opens with an announcement that for the love of the truth and with a desire to bring truth to light, Doctor Martin Luther, professor of theology, planned to hold a meeting where the points he raised would be discussed. He invited all interested parties to attend or to send their arguments to him via letter to be included in the discussion.

Theses 1–9

Luther first takes up the issue of repentance. He uses the Latin...

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Luther nails his theses to the door of the All Saints' Church in Wittenburg. (Library of Congress)

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