Martin Luther (1483–1546 C.E.) initiated the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation in Europe and often wrote on both retributive and distributive justice. In 2010 nearly 74 million people in 150+ church bodies in 79 countries around the world claimed to be Lutheran and study Luther’s writings. In addition to being a keen student of the Bible, Luther also studied Aristotle and Cicero on the subject of justice. His first assignment at the University of Wittenberg (1508–09) was to lecture on Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. He was especially impressed with Book 5 dealing with justice. Still, Luther addressed the issue of justice in a Ciceronian manner by emphasizing the intrinsic connection between practical ethics and rhetorical communication in order to persuade and gain the people’s consent. Luther has also become infamous in two notorious cases when social justice was at stake.
Luther most often took up the matter of justice when someone called upon him to give his counsel...
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