Audivimus de poenitencia et remissione peccatorum. Das hab ich umb der kurtz wyllen uberlauffen et tamen clare, expresse. Das wyr aber das fest bschlissen, wollen wyr ein stuck odder ii vor uns nhemen. Der Her hat uns vorgemalet, was er vor eyn geberde furet unter seynen jungern, quod in medio illorum progrediatur et salutet illos ita, ut terreantur discipuli. Die selbige erschreckung wyl er nicht leyden, quia non vult estimari spiritus, qui non habet carnem et ossa. Er bekennet, das die geyster alßo erscheinen, tum non habentes carnem et ossa. Diß ist eyn sonderlich bylde pro impiis conscienciis. Der teuffel hat auch die arth, das er offentlich zw uns durchs worth odder heymlich durch gedancken zw uns kumme, uff das er hoc malum, das man heist ein falschen Christum. Satan hat auch die art, quod venit ad nos offentlich und heimlich, 1. per praedicationem, 2. per cogitationes potest etiam dicere: 'bonus dies' et 2. conscientiam terrere et sic hominem irr machen, ut nesciat homo, Christus sit necne, semper vult simia esse dei.A translation of which would look something like this:
We have heard about repentance and the remission of sins. I wanted to run over that briefly and yet clearly, expressly. To conclude the feast, let's have a look at one or two passages. The Lord has shown us what gesture he makes among his disciples, for he goes among them and greets them thus, as the disciples are frightened. He does not want to suffer the same fearfulness, for he would not be thought a spirit without flesh and bones. He acknowledges that the spirits appear thus, not having flesh and bones. This is a peculiar image for impious consciences. The Devil is of like disposition, that he comes to us openly through words, or secretly through thoughts, such that, on account of this evil, one calls him a false Christ. Satan is of like disposition, that he comes to us openly and familiarly, 1. by spoken words (or, more specifically, 'by preaching, prophesying'), and 2. can also say 'good day' by thoughts alone, and 2. can frighten the conscience and thus make a man mad, so as not to know if Christ exists or not; always would he be the ape of God.Luther is alluding to the narrative in Luke 24.36-39, where Christ appears to his disciples after the resurrection. In the Vulgate: 'Iesus stetit in medio eorum et dicit eis pax vobis ego sum nolite timere / conturbati vero et conterriti existimabant se spiritum videre / et dixit eis quid turbati estis et cogitationes ascendunt in corda vestra / videte manus meas et pedes quia ipse ego sum palpate et videte quia spiritus carnem et ossa non habet sicut me videtis habere.' And in the KJV: 'Jesus himself stood in the midst of [the disciples], and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. / But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. / And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? / Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.'
The function of Satan is always to burlesque God, that is, to imitate him in reverse; he is found as the 'ape of God' (simia dei, Gottes Affe) throughout Luther's sermons and commentaries. (Alfred Adam traces the motif to the Cistercian hagiographer Caesar of Heisterbach.) Like Christ, Satan strikes awe into the soul, but where Christ makes his presence manifest, Satan makes a man forget whether Christ exists.
So that's the theology taken care of. But what's going on with the languages? It seems highly unlikely that Luther should have delivered a sermon in hybrid German-Latin, even to a small circle of intellectuals. Some of the Latin fragments play on the Vulgate, but they are not direct quotations, and others have no obvious provenance. Malcolm Parkes writes:
The evidence indicates that the scribes [in Luther's circle] translated the essentials of what they had heard in German immediately into Latin, and then set down the discourse in Latin in order to use the customary methods of abbreviation in that language, which enabled them to record spoken discourse more quickly. Only when the process of instantaneous translation was too difficult, or when the German phrases were particularly striking, did the scribes write down Luther's own words. Subsequently the "reportator" translated the text back into the original language, expanding both the simplified forms and abbreviated thought in such a way as to make the record more readable.Did the scribes omit to re-translate, in this instance? Or was the Weimar editor using an odd source-text? In any event, the German and Latin seem to play against each other, the one sometimes half-repeating the other, or elaborating upon it, like the interaction between a God and his Ape.