It’s Time For A Commentary Sale

So, as a special incentive, if you buy The Commentary I will send you a pair of eclipse eyewear for “dazzling insight protection”*.

The ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk in modern history.

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

The books are all available in PDF format from yours truly for a paltry $99 by clicking my PayPal Link.  It’s a good commentary.

The offer of free “dazzling insight protection’ glasses is limited to the first two purchasers (because I only have two pair).

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*Thanks to Chuck Grantham for the idea and phrase.

A Lost Latin Commentary Found

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

Scholars had previously been interested in this ninth-century manuscript as the sole witness to a short letter which claimed to be from the Jewish high priest Annas to the Roman philosopher Seneca. They had dismissed the 100-page anonymous Gospel commentary as one of numerous similar works composed in the court of Charlemagne. But when he visited the library in 2012, Dorfbauer, a specialist in such writings, could see that the commentary was much older than the manuscript itself.

In fact, it was none other than the earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels.

Etc.

‘Luther Was Here” 13 (and More) Quotations from Luther on A Wide Range of Topics

Luther’s everywhere these days.  Unsurprisingly the German press can’t get enough of him.

– “Nichts wird langsamer vergessen als eine Beleidigung und nichts eher als eine Wohltat.”

– “Es gibt keine schlimmere Missgunst in der Welt als die der Heuchler. In einem Wegelagerer und in einer Hure ist mehr Barmherzigkeit als in einem Heuchler.”

– “Wer nicht liebt Wein, Weib und Gesang, bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang.”

– “Der Wein ist stark, der König ist stärker, die Weiber noch stärker, die Wahrheit am allerstärksten.”

– “Die Welt schändet immer, was man loben soll, und lobt, was man schänden soll.”

– “Die Worte Christi sind immer treffend. Haben Hände und Füße. Sie gehen über alle Weisheit, Ratschläge und List der Weisen hinaus.”

Read the essay, it’s pretty nifty.

Adolf von Harnack und die deutsche Politik 1890–1930

Adolf von Harnack, a church historian and academic organizer in Berlin, was one of the most influential persons in liberal Protestantism in Germany. Christian Nottmeier examines the connection between Harnack’s outline for cultural theology and his political involvement after 1890.  “Overall, it is hard to imagine that this book could be bettered: it reveals a complex personality who sought to make religion relevant in a period of unprecedented change.” Mark D. Chapman in Ecclesiastical History, Volume 57, 2, 2006, p. 408–409.

This volume originally appeared as a doctoral dissertation at Humboldt University in Berlin in 2002 and was published in 2003.  This is a new second edition.  Various corrections have been made to the original text but for all intents and purposes, it is the same as its previous incarnation with the notable exception of an appendix which covers the relevant history of Harnack research in the intervening years and a discussion of Harnack’s abiding significance and contributions to scholarship.

The volume is comprised of seven major divisions:

  1. Von Livland Nach Leipzig
  2. Vom konfessionellen Lutheraner zum undogmatischen Dogmenhistoriker
  3. Liberaler Protestantismus, soziale Monarchie und die Anfänge gouvernementaler Gelehrtenpolitik
  4. Zwischen Kaiser und Kanzler
  5. Zwischen Kriegsgegeisterung und Reformbereitschaft
  6. Der konservative Republikaner
  7. Schlußbemerkung

Also included are the aforementioned appendix, a very extensive bibliography, an index of names and an index of subjects.

Adolf von Harnack is perhaps the most important historian of the 19th century and familiarity with his background and intellectual history are vitally important for both church historians and theologians.  Nonetheless he is widely unknown and unfamiliar, particularly to younger scholars and Barthians.

Indeed, it would be fair to say that thanks to Karl Barth (and his antipathy to what he termed the ‘liberal theology’ of his teachers, including von Harnack), very few moderns actually know very much about von Harnack at all, having dismissed him out of hand.  This volume corrects all that misunderstanding and, frankly propagandistic misinformation.  Here readers are exposed to the real von Harnack and to what it really was that drove him to the positions which he held.  Here we learn exactly how von Harnack became von Harnack.

In his time, at the height of his academic career, von Harnack was widely praised as the ‘greatest German scholar’ and at his death his obituary noted that ‘the Patriarch of German scientific research has died’.  This is certainly not an image which the Barthians and others who are unfamiliar with von Harnack’s massive body of work have encountered.  Here, by means of this volume, they can fill the hole in their intellect.

This book is excellent and I highly recommend it.  It educates.

Fun Facts From Church History: Calvin Had Servetus Arrested As Soon as He Found Out Servetus Was in Town

Here’s how the story goes-

Calvin arguing with the first Emergent- Servetus
Calvin arguing with the first Emergent- Servetus

ON arriving at Geneva, Servetus alighted at the inn of the Rose, and there, according to his own declaration, kept himself carefully concealed, that he might not be recognised, waiting an opportunity to procure a boat to proceed by the lake to Zurich, and thence to the kingdom of Naples.  But notwithstanding of this assertion, it is probable that in the inn where he preserved his incognito, he was not without some communication with those in the city.

Certain it is, that in spite of the precautions which he had taken, or rather because he did not remain so completely secluded as he pretends, his presence in Geneva was discovered, the alarm was given, and himself identified. If we may believe a contemporary narrative, he had taken a fancy to be present at a sermon preached in one of the churches, and it was there he was discovered, and denounced even before the sermon was concluded. It is certain that they were members of the ministerial body who established his identity, and that his arrest took place on the Lord’s-day, 13th of August, 1553.

Calvin was the instigator. The instant he was informed by his colleagues of the discovery which they had made, in consequence, no doubt, of instructions formerly received, he applied to one of the Syndics to obtain from him the imprisonment of Servetus, in virtue of the power attached to his office by the Criminal Edicts.  The magistrate immediately granted the request, and Calvin never dissembled the part which he took in the imprisonment of the heretic. “I do not wish to deny,” he said, “that it was on my suit that he was made prisoner.”

This move of the Reformer was perfectly natural, after he had been informed of the presence of Servetus in his domain. Under pain of abdication, he must do everything rather than suffer by his side in Geneva a man whom he considered the greatest enemy of the Reformation; and the critical position in which he saw it, in the bosom of the Republic, was one motive more to remove, if it was possible, the new element of dissolution which the free sojourn of Servetus would have created.*

For Calvin, the presence of Servetus was the presence of a cancer. And that cancer had to be cut out before it could spread and destroy the entire city. Calvin could no more apologize or feel guilty for the arrest, conviction, and execution of Servetus than a physician could apologize for or feel guilty about the removal of a tumor.
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*W. Tweedie, Calvin and Servetus: the reformer’s share in the trial of Michael Servetus (pp. 85–87).

Archeteles

The 23rd of August, 1522, was the day on which Archeteles was published in Zurich by Zwingli.

This is Zwingli’s reply to the admonition which the Bishop of Constance, the diocesan of the city of Zurich, addressed to the chapter of the Great Minster on May 24, 1522. Zwingli was not mentioned in it but rightly regarding himself as the chief agent in bringing in the new ideas which were condemned by the Bishop, he made this reply. His delay in doing so was probably due to his absorbing occupations in other directions. The treatise was written hastily, he informed Myconius, in sending him a copy (August 26, 1522).*

Point by point, Zwingli responds to the Bishop’s concerns. For instance

XIII. There is a class of men so shameless that though they are a constant stumbling block to the unhappy people through their unblushing sins, they will not listen to any sort of warning, far less to any correction or improvement. I wish, indeed, that they would strive to be other than they are reputed to be—nay, I exhort them for Christ’s sake to strive. And when this takes place, justly grounded criticisms will cease, or if they do not cease, they will no longer disturb them. For they will learn, meanwhile, that they shall be blest of whom evil is said, and they will try to show that the slanders poured out upon them are poured out upon men most undeserving of it. But what wickedness is this, despitefully to entreat him who is appointed to be an example unto the rest, and to refuse to listen to any warning? I admit, as far as I am concerned, that I have often said that a fair proportion of the bishops of our time are not real but counterfeit bishops, and I do not think I ought to be blamed for it either, since Isaiah calls such “dumb dogs” [Isa. 56:10], and Christ calls them “thieves and robbers” [John 10:1]. I am speaking of those who have not entered into the sheepfold by the door. For you will find few who fill the office of bishop to the best of their ability, and do not rather conduct themselves as rulers and satraps and kings. I would that all who have spoken in these days unrestrainedly had spoken passionately rather than truly. It is the duty of all and especially of the heads of the Church to see whether their ill repute is deserved or undeserved. For Paul teaches that an elder convicted of sin is to be rebuked publicly [cf. 1 Tim. 5:20].

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*The Latin Works and The Correspondence of Huldreich Zwingli: Together with Selections from His German Works, (Vol. 1, p. 197).