Luther alphabet - letter J
Photo: epd/Werner BachmeierLuther's position towards the Jews was complex, and subject to many changes. In the treatise “That Jesus was born a Jew” (1523) he advises that they should be “instructed carefully so that many of them will become Christians”. He rejected the use of violence. He points out that they were chosen by God. Later, Luther adopted a tougher tone. He is disappointed about their “stubbornness”(“On the Jews and their lies”, 1543). However, he ended his last sermon with a prayer for the Jews.
It must be recognised that the Reformation did not considerably improve the situation of the Jews. For example, the Reformer Bucer advised the Landgrave of Hesse to expel the Jews or at least to prohibit them to build Synagogues and to trade. On the other hand, Osiander stood up against the accusation that the Jews were committing ritual murder.