The Antichrist Usurps the Name of the Church

Luther, Martin (1483-1546)

Ad Librum Eximii Magistri Nostri Ambrosii Catharini Defensoris Silvestri Prieratis Acerrimi Responsio Martini Lutheri. Wittembergae, Mense Aprili. Cum exposita Visione Danielis, viii. De Antichristo.

Wittenberg: [Melchoir Lotter], 1521


Quarto: 21 x 15.5 cm. a-r4 (lacking final blank leaf r4) 115 pp.


A nice copy on thick paper with contemporary annotations and underscoring in red. Fine woodcut initials. Bound in modern marbled boards.

Luther's response to Ambrosius Catharinus Politus' (1487-1552) "Defense of the True Catholic and Apostolic Faith and Doctrine against the Disease-spreading Dogma of Martin Luther" (Florence, 1520). In his defense of papal supremacy, Catharinus also defends the opinions of Sylvester Mazolinus de Prierio (Prierius, d. 1523), Pope Leo X's theologian and the first man to censor Luther's works. The present edition was printed in April 1521, just as Luther left the Diet of Worms after having been declared an outlaw by the Emperor.

Luther excoriates Catharinus, Prierius, and Cajetan –the trinity of Roman Thomists- for presuming that the Germans are brutes and barbarians who will continue to swallow Roman doctrine without question. Moreover, the three Italians do not realize that they themselves have been brutalized by Rome and are kept benighted by the false doctrine that they promote.

The true Church, Luther argued, had no need for the pontifical hierarchy, a conspiracy of popes and prelates who had usurped for their temporal and corrupt establishment the name of the universal Church, over which none had true authority but God.

This publication also contains Luther's "Concerning the Question Whether the Pope is Really the Antichrist". On this question, Luther is quite categorical: 'The Pope is the Antichrist!' Declared Luther: 'This Prophet Daniel had also predicted as much in the 7th chapter, vv. 7-8. There, the Prophet writes thus: ' After this fourth beast, dreadful and terrible with the ten horns' (which in everyone' s opinion means the Roman Empire) 'Behold, there came up among them another little horn' (which is the papal government, arising in the midst of the Roman Empire.) 'Behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man and a mouth speaking great things' [Daniel 7:20]. These eyes are for ' understanding dark sentences' and the mouth is for blaspheming Christ [Daniel 8: 23]."

Luther's insistence that the pope is Antichrist had already become a central theme in his opposition to the Church. For example, we find this assertion powerfully made in Luther's response to Leo X's bull threatening excommunication " Adversus execrabilem Antichristi bullam" (1520). Here he employs Biblical exegesis to back up his claim.

Benzing 880; Adams L 1841; Kessler # 271; BM STC German p. 540; Pegg, Bibliotheca 911; VD 16, l 3706; Schrodt & Vogelstein 163; Kuczynski 1417