Original Research

Martin Luther and Aesop: Fables as tales of morality for today?

Raymond Potgieter
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2896 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2896 | © 2023 Raymond Potgieter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 August 2022 | Published: 06 February 2023

About the author(s)

Raymond Potgieter, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Ancient Aesopian fables continued to capture the imagination, reaching even into Lutheran Wittenberg. Luther, concerned to address morality within the church and community, sanctioned the use of fables with some caution. Ever cautious not to obscure the gospel, he referred to fables as a tool in his preaching and his table-talks. This is a neglected tool, the rediscovery of which may prove useful to pastoral ministry for its ability to stimulate visualising and excite verbal communication in illustrating something of the complexity of Christian and daily living. While fables never gained much popularity in Reformed circles, it is worth revisiting for insights in how Martin Luther put it to use.

Contribution: As in Reformation Wittenberg, a fable today has the latent promise to be a useful instrument in promoting gospel morality not only among children, but also among adults. To successfully reach that end, the church needs to be creative, even to the extent of fashioning contemporary fables to address daily tensions within its community and beyond.


Aesop; fable; Luther; table-talk; sermons; reformed


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