Here I Fall A Blunder in Roland Bainton's Here I Stand

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Stephen Zenas Perisho


The American Theological Library Association listserv ATLANTIS handles a lot of reference “stumpers.”  One such, posted on behalf of a research librarian writing from the Polish National Library in late 2014, sparked the historico-textual investigations out of which these findings emerged.  Flagged is a serious blunder in one of the most famous biographies of Martin Luther ever written:  Roland Bainton’s reproduction of what he should have known was an established forgery as “‘A Mighty Fortress’ in Luther’s Hand”.  But there is more to the story than just this response to the question first posed by Dr. Tomasz Ososiński.  Uncovered is not just the eighty years of debate-over-authenticity that Bainton overlooked, but a statement (and no less than four reproductions) to the contrary in the very authority he cites.  Why did his colleagues in Germany, who may have been the only ones to catch the gaffe, do so very little to set the record straight, despite the extensive experience that they and their predecessors (including the duped scholar-librarians of the late 19th-century) had had with Luther forgeries?  The paper concludes with a comment on the present impact of this (as yet still uncorrected) “fake news” in print and online.

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