First Advisor

Steven Fuller

Date of Publication

Fall 11-5-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


World Languages and Literatures




Martin Luther (1483-1546) -- Criticism and interpretation, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) -- Criticism and interpretation, Two kingdoms (Lutheran theology) -- 16th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 134 pages)


The following work is an analysis of Martin Luther's Two Kingdoms Theory. This influential and controversial theory was introduced in his 1523 treatise, Von weltlicher Obrigkeit--Secular Authority. Although this document was written almost 500 years ago and takes its cue from the writings of St. Augustine and the Bible, it continued to have a significant effect on German society in both the political and religious realm well into the present day. Based on an analysis of the text and on the culture and literature that led Luther to write Von weltlicher Obrigkeit, this thesis evaluates various interpretations and applications of the Two Kingdoms Theory. The specific effects of Luther's teaching during the Nazi era are examined politically and theologically. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Religionsloses Christentum--Religionless Christianity and Martin Luther's Zwei-Reiche-Lehre--Two Kingdoms Theory will be compared to demonstrate that they illuminate the same truth from different vantage points: neither people nor their rules are viable substitutes for God. A brief introduction explains the means of analysis used in this thesis, which is based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's call for a new religionless language as described in letters written during his imprisonment by the Nazi regime.


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