Original Research

Was Karlstadt ‘Insane’ on Mosaic Law like Melanchthon said?

Joel McDurmon
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 1 | a1252 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.1252 | © 2012 Joel McDurmon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 March 2012 | Published: 13 September 2012

About the author(s)

Joel McDurmon, American Vision, Inc., Powder Spring, United States; Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article reviewed claims made by modern scholars Ford Lewis Battles and G.H.Williams, as well as charges made by Melanchthon, against Andreas Karlstadt (1486–1541) in regard to the imposition of Mosaic Law upon the civil realm. Melanchthon called Karlstadt ‘insane’ based on this charge, whilst Battles claims Karlstadt proposed to replace European civil law completely with the ‘entire Mosaic code’. This study examined some of Karlstadt’s writings in regard to images, the pace of reforms in Wittenberg, and the preference for reform to be carried out by the princes and not the masses. It also consulted the secondary source analyses of Ulrich Bubenheimer and Calvin Augustus Pater – both of which present views opposite to that of Battles, and both would have been available to Battles in 1986. The results of the literary review conducted in this study demonstrate that the claims of Battles, Williams, and Melanchthon are not supported by the evidence.


Andreas Karlstadt; Mosaic Law; Ford Lewis Battles; G.H. Williams


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