I am now reading Erik Erikson's psychoanalytical study of Martin Luther , because I became interested in Erikson's concept of the Identity Crisis and its implications for the formation of religious and spiritual identity in adloescence. The book explores Luther's life through the lens of this concept. To tell the truth, I found Luther such an off-putting and offensive character that I am not sure that I will be able to finish the book. Erikson himself was a an illegitimate child of a Jewish woman abandoned by both her first husband and Erikson’s father and shows no sense of moral outrage over things that no decent person should tolerate.
Needless to say, the father of Protestanism was a deeply disturbed and a very flawed man, which was apparent to his Catholic opponents. He was also a coarse and earthy man who delighted in behaving and acting like a boorish peasant. Among recurring images in his writings is that of a sow. The sow is a female pig. Jews don't eat pigs.
What I find fascinating is deep identification and the love/ hate relationship that Luther had with the Sow. In some of them he attacks the Jews for rejecting pigs, read himself, while at the same time calling them pigs.
Here are some choice comments from Martin Luther that invoke the sow. I apologize in advance for the crudeness of it all, so unlike the eidelkeit of Jewish religion.
Here Luther wants to be a sow:
Finally I wish to say this for myself: If God were to give me no other Messiah than such as the Jews wish and hope for, I would much, much rather be a sow than a human being. ...... Even if I had all of that, or if I could become the ruler of Turkey or the Messiah for whom the Jews hope, I would still prefer being a sow. ....For a sow lies down on her featherbed, on the street, or on a dung-heap; she rests securely, snores gently, sleeps sweetly, fears neither king nor Lord, neither death nor hell, neither the devil nor God's wrath, and lives entirely without care so long as she has her bran. And if the emperor ofTurkey were to draw near with all his might and his wrath, she in her pridewould not move a bristle for his sake. If someone were to rouse her, she, I suppose, would grunt and say, if she could talk: You fool, why are you raving? You are not one-tenth as well off as I am. Not for an hour do you live as securely, as peacefully and tranquilly as I do constantly, norwould you even if you were ten times as great or rich. In brief, no thought of death occurs to her, for her life is secure and serene.
And if the butcher performs his job with her, she probably imagines that astone or piece of wood is pinching her. She never thinks of death, and in a moment she is dead. Neither before, during, or in death did she feel death.She feels nothing but life, nothing but everlasting life! No king, not even the Jews' Messiah, will be able to emulate her, nor will any person, however great, rich, holy, or mighty he might be. She never ate of the apple which taught us wretched men in Paradise the difference between good and evil.
Here he says that Jews are sows:
If these vulgar people had expressed themselves more mildly and said, "The Christians worship one God and not many gods, and we are lying and doing the Christians an injustice when we allege that they are worshiping more than one God, though they do believe that there are three persons in the Godhead; we can not understand this but are willing to let the Christians follow their convictions," etc. -- that would have been sensible. But now they proceed, impelled by the devil, to fall into this like filthy sows fall into the trough, defaming and reviling what they refuse to acknowledge and to understand. Without further ado they declare: We Jews do notunderstand this and do not want to understand it; therefore it follows that it is wrong and idolatrous.
Luther tries to connect Jews and his beloved sow by throwing dung at them:
He who hears this name [God] from a Jew must inform the authorities, or else throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.
Several months after publishing On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther wrote another attack on Jews titled Vom Schem Hamphoras, in which he explicitly equated Jews with the Devil. I apologize for citing this intemperate language but this is Luther for you.
When Judas hanged himself and his bowels gushed forth, and, as happens in such cases, his bladder also burst, the Jews were ready to catch the Judas-water and the other precious things, and then they gorged and swilled on the merd among themselves, and were thereby endowed with such a keenness of sight that they can perceive glosses in the Scriptures such as neither Matthew nor Isaiah himself . . .would be able to detect; or perhaps they looked into the loin of their God â€œShed,â€ and found these things written in that smokehole. . . . The Devil has eased himself and emptied his belly again—that is a real halidom for Jews and would-be Jews, to kiss, batten on, swill and adore; and then the Devil in his turn also devours and swills what these good pupils spue and eject from above and below. . . . The Devil, with his angelic snout, devours what exudes from the oral and anal apertures of the Jews; this is indeed his favorite dish, on which he battens like a sow behind the hedge.
Sickening! This from supposedly a religious man, a leader of Christendoom.
Luther was obsessed with farting as well: But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away”.. . Not a bad strategy!!
I supposed Jews can console hemselves that Catholics did not fare much better. In addressing the Pope in his writings on Councils, Luther says, “Listen, papal ass, you are a particularly crass ass, indeed, you are a filthy sow!”
Sows and farts are particular favourites of his:
If I were to ask here, ‘But what did all the other apostles...pasture? (in the sense of discipling sheep) perhaps the big fart of the papal ass will say that maybe they pastured rats, mice, and lice, or if it went well, sows, just so that the papal ass remains the [chief] shepherd, and all apostles swineherds.”
When he could put Catholics, sows and farting in the same sentence, he was ecstatic: Commenting against Hanswurst, a Catholic who wrote a book, “REJOINDER” against Luther, Luther retorts (here again the sow is Luther himself), “You should not write a book before you have heard an old sow fart; and then you should open your jaws with awe, saying, ‘thank you, lovely nightingale, that is just the text for me.’”
What is it about sows and farts and Jews and Catholics that connects them all in Luther's mind. I think two things.
First, there is the Judensau.
Judensau is a derogatory and dehumanizing image of Jes in obscene contact with a large sow that appeared during the 13th century Germany. Its popularity lasted for over 600 years and was revived by the Nazis.
This is how Luther describes this pleasant image:
Here in Wittenberg, in our parish church, there is a sow carved into the stone under which lie young pigs and Jews who are sucking; behind the sow stands a rabbi who is lifting up the right leg of the sow, raises behind the sow, bows down and looks with great effort into the Talmud under the sow, as if he wanted to read and see something most difficult and exceptional; no doubt they gained their Shem Hamphoras from that place...
Luther also knew his Bible (and produced a very propular translation of it into German). Perhaps, he remembered this passage that described enemies of the Jews, among whom he counted himself: All your enemies open their mouths wide against you; they scoff and gnash their teeth and say, "We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it.(Lamentations 2:16). The word is: "Poaru", has connotations of "passing wind", as, for example in this description of the worship of the idol Baal Paor.
The worship of this idol consisted in exposing that part of the body which all persons usually take the utmost care to conceal. It is related that on one occasion a strange ruler came to the place where Peor was worshiped, to sacrifice to him; but when he heard of this silly practise, he caused his soldiers to attack and kill the worshipers of the god (Sifre, Num. 131; Sanh. 106a).
Like many Christian Anti-semites, Luther envied the Jews their status as the Chosen People and he hated and despised them for it. He called them sows and at the same time he wanted to be that sow himself.
Chazal already said this.
Why does he compare it [the Roman State] to a swine? For this reason: when the swine is lying down it puts out its hoofs, as if to say, "I am pure," so does this wicked State rob and oppress, yet pretend to be executing justice. So for forty years Esau used to ensnare married women and violate them, yet when he attained forty years he compared himself to his father, saying, "As my father was forty years old when he married, so I will marry at the age of forty." (Midrash Rabbah – Genesis 65:1).
The unconscious is a funny thing, for it reveals secrets!