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We have no direct contemporary evidence on which to rely; while Luther's own reminiscences, on which we chiefly depend, are necessarily coloured by his later experiences and feelings" (Beard, , 146).
Of Luther's monastic life we have little authentic information, and that is based on his own utterances, which his own biographers frankly admit are highly exaggerated, frequently contradictory, and commonly misleading.
His philosophical studies were no doubt made under Jodocus Trutvetter von Eisenach, then rector of the university, and Bartholomaus Arnoldi von Usingen.
The former was pre-eminently the Doctor Erfordiensis , and stood without an admitted rival in Germany.
Luther's sudden and unexpected entrance into the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt occurred 17 July, 1505.
The motives that prompted the step are various, conflicting, and the subject of considerable debate.
He himself alleges, as above stated, that the brutality of his home and school life drove him into the monastery.
The Augustinian rule lays especial stress on the monition that the novice "read the Scripture assiduously, hear it devoutly, and learn it fervently" (Constitutiones Ordinis Fratr. These writers are "evidently led by hearsay, and follow the legendary stories that have been spun about the person of the reformer" (Oerger, , 80). A strange oversight, running through three centuries, placed the date of his ordination and first Mass on the same day, 2 May, an impossible coincidence.
His mother, Margaret Ziegler, is spoken of by Melancthon as conspicuous for "modesty, the fear of God, and prayerfulness" ("Corpus Reformatorum", Halle, 1834).
Extreme simplicity and inflexible severity characterized their home life, so that the joys of childhood were virtully unknown to him.
', the reply that Luther himself gives is the most satisfactory" (Hausrath, "Luthers Leben" I, Berlin, 1904, 2, 22).
He himself again, in a letter to his father, in explanation of his defection from the Old Church, writes, "When I was terror-stricken and overwhelmed by the fear of impending death, I made an involuntary and forced vow ". Melancthon ascribes his step to a deep melancholy, which attained a critical point "when at one time he lost one of his comrades by an accidental death" (Corp. Cochlaeus, Luther's opponent, relates "that at one time he was so frightened in a field, at a thunderbolt as is commonly reported, or was in such anguish at the loss of a companion, who was killed in the storm, that in a short time to the amazement of many persons he sought admission to the Order of St. Mathesius, his first biographer, attributes it to the fatal "stabbing of a friend and a terrible storm with a thunderclap" (op.
Luther addresses him in a letter (1518) as not only "the first theologian and philosopher ", but also the first of contemporary dialecticians.