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.
cit.), or Luther's assertion that he had "never seen a Bible until he was twenty years of age", or his still more emphatic declaration that when Carlstadt was promoted to the doctorate "he had as yet never seen a Bible and I alone in the Erfurt monastery read the Bible ", which, taken in their literal sense, are not only contrary to demonstrable facts, but have perpetuated misconception, bear the stamp of improbability written in such obtrusive characters on their face, that it is hard, on an honest assumption, to account for their longevity. Parenthetical mention must be made of the fact that the denunciation heaped on Luther's novice-master by Mathesius, Ratzeberger, and Jurgens, and copied with uncritical docility by their transcribers -- for subjecting him to the most abject menial duties and treating him with outrageous indignity -- rests on no evidence.
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 father once beat him so mercilessly that he ran away from home and was so "embittered against him that he had to win me to himself again." His mother, "on account of an insignificant nut, beat me till the blood flowed, and it was this harshness and severity of the life I led with them that forced me subsequently to run away to a monastery and become a monk." The same cruelty was the experience of his earliest school-days, when in one morning he was punished no less than fifteen times.
The meager data of his life at this period make it a work of difficulty to reconstruct his childhood.
In his fourteenth year (1497) he entered a school at Magdeburg, where, in the words of his first biographer, like many children "of honourable and well-to-do parents, he sang and begged for bread -- panem propter Deum " (Mathesius, op. In 1502 he received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy, being the thirteenth among fifty-seven candidates.
On Epiphany (6 January, 1505), he was advanced to the master's degree, being second among seventeen applicants.
He himself alleges, as above stated, that the brutality of his home and school life drove him into the monastery.
Hausrath, his latest biographer and one of the most scholarly Luther specialists, unreservedly inclines to this belief.
Oerger ("Vom jungen Luther", Erfurt, 1899, 27-41) has proved the existence of this friend, his name of Alexius or Alexis, his death by lightning or assassination, a mere legend, destitute of all historical verification.
Kostlin-Kawerau (I, 45) states that returning from his "Mansfeld home he was overtaken by a terrible storm, with an alarming lightning flash and thunderbolt. Anna, I will be a monk '." "The inner history of the change is far less easy to narrate.
The "house at Mansfeld rather repelled than attracted him" (Beard, "Martin Luther and the Germ.