Category Archives: Books

A Review of the DBG’s Facsimile Edition of Luther’s 1545 ‘Biblia Germanica’

Published in 2017 for the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, this facsimile edition is an exact replica of Luther’s 1545 German Bible.  And the 1545 German Bible is Luther’s best edition, far superior to the two volume 1534 edition and much better than any of the earlier incarnations of Luther’s version.

This edition is distributed in North America by Hendrickson Publishers, as are all of the German Bible Society’s volumes.

Luther’s translation of the Bible alone makes him a figure of importance and it is not at all difficult to muster the argument that of all the works of Luther, it is the most significant.  To be sure, his great books of 1520 stand as monuments to the beginning of the Reformation and will always be valued for that historical reason alone.  But of Luther’s lasting contributions to Christian theology, they pale in importance to Luther’s rendition of Scripture.

The present facsimile edition is unaltered from its original form with only one exception: the ‘afterword’ provided by the German publisher.  Everything else, from font to woodcuts to prefaces and forwards are all exactly as published in 1545, a year before Luther’s death.  Those seeking Luther’s most mature thought on Amos or Hosea need simply read the preface he provides to those books (and all the rest).  Luther’s Preface to the Old Testament is still one of the best ‘introductions’ to the Old Testament to this very day as is his Preface to the New Testament to New Testament studies.  Luther was at his best and brightest when working directly with Scripture.  Would that he had avoided some of his more controversial efforts and simply stuck with exegesis; what a legacy he would have left behind.

The volume presently under discussion also comes beneficially ensconced in a very sturdy box and comes bound in a lovely and sturdy beige cloth cover.  The paper used in this edition is substantial and the volume thereby avoids the easy creasing so common to bibles published with paper which bleeds through.

The price is not exorbitant for the quality or historical significance of the volume though doubtless many will wish it were less expensive than it is.  Nonetheless, you ‘get what you pay for’ and the quality and importance of this facsimile are well worth the cost.  If potential buyers are stymied by the price, I would advise that they sell their collection of NT Wright’s works or their Joel Osteen volumes for whatever they can get for them and buy this instead.  It’s far more deserving of a place on your shelves and you’ll get more out of if in terms of theological education than either of those modern authors could proffer in all of their books combined together.

What follows below are a series of photos I snapped to provide readers with visuals of this fantastic and highly important and wonderfully accessible Bible.

I could recommend this edition with more than glowing words but I think it speaks for itself.  Students of the Reformation; students of the Bible; and people who love fantastic books will want it.  Crave it.  Need it.  Get it.

An Introduction to the Study of Jeremiah

9780567665720C. L. Crouch provides a clear and concise introduction to the complex text of Jeremiah. Readers are introduced to the diverse approaches to the book, with attention paid to the way that these approaches differ from but also relate to one another. After a brief introduction, Crouch addresses the formation of the book, especially in relation to its Hebrew and Greek versions; the theological interests of the book and the challenges posed by attempts to link these to an actual man ‘Jeremiah’; and the relationship of Jeremiah to other biblical prophets. Crouch focuses clearly on method and on approaches to the text, as is the mark of this series. This makes the book especially useful for students in the quest to navigate the diverse body of scholarly literature that surrounds this troublesome biblical book.

This volume is part of a quite extensive series, the several volumes of which you can examine here.

Crouch begins her introduction to Jeremiah in the first two chapters of the present book in the way in which students of biblical studies will be most familiar: i.e., by addressing the historical questions.  First she places Jeremiah in its historical setting and then she addresses the question of the two recensions of Jeremiah which we have in its Masoretic and its Greek form, by summarizing the contents of the book.

At this point Crouch abandons the usual introductory questions and turns instead to a reception-historical discussion of Jeremiah as the book has been studied in the 20th century.  The fourth chapter naturally follows from this and is a very fine discussion of Historical Criticism and the methods which have sprung from it and been somewhat hostile to it.

Chapter five is the heart of the book.  In it, Crouch illustrates, by means of the exposition of selected passages, how it is precisely that recent approaches handle the text of Jeremiah.  She analyzes the call of Jeremiah, the laments of Jeremiah, God’s judgement on Judah, Jeremiah’s purchase of a field, and Jeremiah’s friend Baruch and his scroll.

Crouch brings her intro to an end in the usual post-postmodern fashion by expressing the open-endedness of her own conclusions, titling the chapter In(-)Conclusions; thereby opening the door and even inviting both challenge and further work.

Readers will benefit immensely from the two appendices (on versification in the Hebrew and Greek traditions and a list of ancient kings) and even more from the very detailed bibliographies presented.

This is a fine little volume and it fits perfectly in a series which describes itself as ‘approaches to biblical studies’.  Anyone, whether seasoned veteran scholar or graduate student working on Jeremiah or interested layperson, will profit from a reading of it.  I heartily recommend it.

 

#ICYMI – On Keeping Your Books: An Observation

bookstandNPR’s Fresh Air had the most delightful author – Penelope Lively – on in March 2014.  She was asked, in the course of the interview, why she kept all her books (she has a large collection) when it is unlikely that she will re-read many, if any.

Her answer:  that they charted the course of her intellectual life and bidding them farewell would be to lose a part of herself.

I thought that a grand answer.  Books are friends who, in her words, “wave to us from the shelves”.  And I thought to myself as I drove along – I can’t part with my books any more than I can part with my true friends.

Like her, I may not re-read many of them but they remind me of places and ideas and people; and those things I’m not willing to lose.

Gerechtigkeit verstehen

04916_landmesser_popkes_gerechtigkeitMenschliches Leben kann sich nur dort zum Guten entfalten, wo auch Gerechtigkeit herrscht. Was aber ist Gerechtigkeit? Ganz selbstverständlich fordern wir Gerechtigkeit in allen Bereichen unseres Lebens. Um Gerechtigkeit aber auch zur Geltung zu bringen, ist eine grundsätzliche Verständigung darüber erforderlich, was wir unter Gerechtigkeit verstehen wollen.

Diesem Leitthema widmete sich die 18. Jahrestagung der Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft für Hermeneutische Theologie e. V., deren Erträge durch den vorliegenden Sammelband dokumentiert werden.

Mit Beiträgen von Hermann Spieckermann, Christof Landmesser, Angelika Neuwirth, Rainer Marten, Tom Kleffmann und Bischof Otfried July.

The papers herein were read at the 2016 Rudolf-Bultmann-Gesellschaft that met in Bad Herrenalb.  In total six essays plus an introduction comprise the substance and each addresses the theological concept of ‘righteousness’ from a particular perspective.  Accordingly, the first, by H. Spickermann is an investigation of the concept in the Old Testament. The second, by Landmesser sees the concept through the lenses of Matthew and Paul. The third steps away from the Bible and thinks about the subject from the point of view of the Koran whilst the fourth widens the vista further by broadly discussing the question of righteousness itself.

In chapter 5, T. Kleffmann returns to a consideration of the subject from a theological perspective- particularly from the point of view of Pauline studies and the last chapter F. July attempts to bring the subject to bear on present churchly practice among the Diaconate.

I am happy to confess the first two chapters are nearer my own interests than the others, which is why I am pleased to have encountered those first two and the latter four, for they broaden the reader’s perspective exponentially. I know virtually nothing of the Koran so that I cannot rightly analyze the contents of that chapter and nonetheless am glad to have read it simply because it is so very instructive. Indeed, perhaps Jewish/ Christian/ and Muslim dialogue should and can begin with a colloquium on the subject of ‘righteousness’.

When the Bultmann-Gesellschaft holds its annual meetings the scholars presenting always bring intriguing and helpful ideas to the table.  The publication of those proceedings by the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt Leipzig should be greeted with appreciation as they allow the entire interested theological public to ‘sit in’ on the sessions even if they cannot do so literally.

From Rome to Zurich

97463From Rome to Zurich, between Ignatius and Vermigli brings notable scholars from the fields of Reformation and Early Modern studies [together] …. Touching Protestant scholasticism, Reformation era life writing, Reformation polemics – both Protestant and Catholic – and with several on theology proper, inter alia, the essays collected here by a group of international scholars break new ground in Reformation history, thought, and theology, providing fresh insights into current scholarship in both Reformation and Catholic Reformation studies. The essays take in the broad scope of the 16th century, from Thomas More to Martin Bucer, and from Thomas Stapleton to Peter Martyr Vermigli.

Contributors include: Emidio Campi, Maryanne Cline Horowitz, A. Lynn Martin, Thomas McCoog, SJ, Joseph McLelland, Richard A. Muller, Eric Parker, Robert Scully, SJ, and Jason Zuidema.

Brill have sent along a review copy.  More anon.

Biblia Germanica

Hendrickson have published the brilliant Biblia Germanica, Luther’s 1545 edition of the German Bible.

No other German book has exercised for centuries such a profound effect on the German language as the German Bible of Martin Luther. Over time other German translations appeared, and in the present we see an almost bewildering abundance of new translations, but the Luther Bible launched the progression of the German language. In addition, the Luther text set binding standards for dealing with the biblical word. The output is one column set, with the exception of the Psalter and the Proverbs of Solomon, which are in two columns. This print is a replica of the 1545 Luther Bible, of which only two originals are left. This replica maintains the numerous wood cuts, headings, and explanatory notes of Luther.

They’ve sent along, with excessive kindness, a review copy.  More anon- and here it is in its box and shrink wrap:

From Jesus to his First Followers

54589From Jesus to His First Followers examines to what extent early Christian groups were in continuity or discontinuity with respect to Jesus. Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce concentrate on the transformation of religious practices. Their anthropological-historical analysis focuses on the relations between discipleship and households, on the models of contact with the supernatural world, and on cohabitation among distinct religious groups. The book highlights how Matthew uses non-Jewish instruments of legitimation, John reformulates religious experiences through symbolized domestic slavery, Paul adopts a religious practice diffused in Roman-Hellenistic environments. The book reconstructs the map of early Christian groups in the Land of Israel and explains their divergences on the basis of an original theory of the local origin of Gospels’ information.

This is the best book on the origins of the Jesus Movement since Crossley’s in 2006.  It contains a number of essays, all previously published (except 7 and 8) and many in places where they may have been fairly inaccessible before collected here.

The contents are divided into four parts:

Jesus’ Strategy: Interstitiality and Conflict

  • 1 The Interstitial Movement of Jesus and the oikos
  • 2 The Conflict of Jesus with the Society of His Time
  • 3 Between Family and Temple: Jesus and Sacrifices
  • 4 Kinship and Movement: Closeness and Distance in John’s Perspective

Religious Practice as Continuity with Jesus

  • 5 The Practice of the Heavenly Journey: The Case of Paul
  • 6 Practices of Contact With the Supernatural: From Jesus to His Followers

Different Groups of Jesus’ Followers, before Christianity

  • 7 The Places of Jesus’ Followers in the Land of Israel: Local Origins of the Gospels’ Sources
  • 8 Divergent Lines of Transmission and Memory: The Passion Narratives in Mark and John
  • 9 A Persecuted and Antagonistic Minority: The Strategy of Matthew
  • 10 ‘Mise en histoire’ and Social Memory: The Politics of the Acts of the Apostles
  • 11 Investigating Domestic Slavery in John

Separation Between Jews and Christians

  • 12 The Separation of the Jesus’ Followers from the Jews: The Case of Burial Space

Bibliography
Index of Names
Thematic Index

The essays are quite engaging and beneficially advance our comprehension of the formative years of the Jesus movement.  The purpose of the collection as described by P. and D.

The essays collected in this volume have in common the attention to Jesus’ and his followers’ style of life and to the social forms that they adopted in order to integrate into society and justify their aims and activities (p. 1).

That brief sentence nicely enunciates the aim of the work.  And it nicely states precisely what the volume achieves.

There are, though, editorial issues with the collection.  ‘Jesus’ is frequently used when the proper form would be “Jesus’s” (cf. p. 4, passim).  Words are misspelled (‘Parte’ on page 5 where it should be ‘Part’; ‘devises’ is used on page 88 instead of the appropriate ‘devices’) and sometimes the grammar is less than proper (again, on page 5, “An analysis of the early processes of memorization leads to recognize the existence of…” should obviously be something like “An analysis of the early processes of memorization leads us (or perhaps, readers) to recognize the existence of…”.  The authors do not speak English as their mother tongue, they speak Italian.  The editorial process should have caught these errors (and several others throughout) and volumes as learned as this one deserve a proper amount of editorial care.  Any future editions of this volume must attend to the necessary task of a close and careful reading through by a native speaker of English.

The linguistic issues aside, this collection of essays is superb.  Our authors can write quite well.  For instance:

What is essential to keep in mind is that the followers of Jesus in the last quarter of the first century had to cope with problems that Jesus had not foreseen and on which had not given instructions (p. 7).

Superior writing in academic circles is writing that makes its point and moves along with all due haste to further points supported by further evidence.  Too much scholarship so tires the reader with repetition and rabbit chasings that by the time the point is arrived at the reader’s interest is worn down to the nub.  All of us should applaud P. and D. for getting to the point!

A further benefit of the present work is the fact that it contains something for everyone.  Are you interested in Reception History?  It is here.  Memory research?  That too is here.  The sociology of early Christianity?  That too is contained herein.  And along the way, as one reads the contents, one constantly discovers flashes of insight on well known stories.  For instance, in their discussion of the transfiguration, D and P write:

Our hypothesis is that the disciples’ participation to [sic! should be ‘in’ – J.W.] the event is narrated to show how Jesus actually involves the disciples in his own experience of contact with the divine (p.  119).

I am bound to recommend this volume, as I am bound to recommend everything that Pesce and Destro write.  They are wonderful scholars and their interdisciplinary approach to New Testament studies is a breath of fresh air in what is far too often a stale and quite dry academic environment.

Fun Facts From Church History: Trashy Novels Weren’t Welcome in Calvin’s Geneva

sillySome of the ladies (and odd men) like ‘Romance novels’ but in Calvin’s Geneva such books were unwelcome. As P. Henry remarks

We learn from the state-register of March 13, 1559, that romance-reading was altogether prohibited in Geneva. It is said:—“Inasmuch as many persons are in the habit of reading Amadis de Gaule, which contains much that is licentious and wicked, let them be gravely admonished, and let the said book be abolished and destroyed.” Shortly after Calvin’s time, Henry Stephens was excommunicated and imprisoned, because he had written a dissolute book.*

You have to admire Calvin.  He knew garbage when he saw it.  The world would be a better place if unrealistic titillation didn’t exist (fostering, as it does, unrealistic expectations and inevitably, disappointment).  In the real world, ladies, men wear shirts, and cut their hair.  And don’t work out 12 hours a day.  Just so you know…

_______________________
*P. Henry, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer Volume 1, p. 174.

A Commentary Sale For the Anniversary of the Beginning of the Zwinglian Reformation

In honor of the outbreak of the Reformation in Zurich, The Commentary is on sale for the very low price of $75 (the regular price is $199).  Yes, you read that correctly, you can obtain a commentary on the entire Bible and several of the Deuterocanonicals for only $75.  You need simply click my PayPal Link and include your email with your order and they’ll be sent to you within a few hours.  It’s that simple.

This sale runs today only.  And the commentary is actually quite good.  Here’s what one reader has to say-

I am a Christian and a Bible Study Teacher at my church. I have been in church all of my life, but I found it difficult to take on the teaching responsibilities of a Senior Adult Ladies Class. Although I have read the Bible, there are many things that I do not understand. I also was worried because the ladies in my class are “Studiers” of the Bible and the thought crossed my mind “What can I teach these ladies that they do not already know?” As you can see from my comments, I was wondering how “I was going to do it” instead of wondering how “God would do it”!

But when you teach it, you have to go deeper than just reading. I believe that God wants us to continue to go deeper each time we open the Bible. One of the references I use for my studies are the books written by Jim West “For The Person in The Pew”. Jim can take a complicated set of scriptures and bring the meaning into clear view. Every time that I start a new Bible study, I order one of his books. We just finished the book of Revelation and his book was helpful in taking the complicated and making it simple.

Jim has a way of wording his explanations of the scripture in such a way that it makes you want to read deeper and then just watch and see what God can do! Jim is a gifted person and I am glad that God has blessed his life so that he could in turn bless mine.

Sherry Liles
Knoxville, TN

You can read other reviews here.

Why Yes, Yes it Does

This book offers a concise and highly-readable explanation of the dramatic changes that took place during the Reformation and helps readers understand the deeper impact of the Reformation beyond its own time period. Changes in theology and in worship, in the status of lay people and clergy, and in the relations between church and state reshaped Christians’ views of themselves. Early modern Christians had to rethink their relationship with God and with other Christians based on these new realities. As contemporary Christians grasp the Reformation’s dramatic impact in its own time, they will find resources for understanding and responding to challenges and conflicts today.

Video of Karin Maag’s January Series lecture, “500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters”

More

Via.

CHRISTIANITY IN EURAFRICA: A History of the Church in Europe and Africa

Nothing has bound Africa and Europe more together than the history of Christianity. From Paradise onwards, the Church has been the communion of believers. As the Body of Jesus Christ she started in Jerusalem. Through the proclamation of the Gospel the Church soon reached parts of Africa and the Atlantic Coast, from where – after the Middle Ages and particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries – she took deep root in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, in post-modern times, African Christianity is being challenged to re-plant the Church in secularized Europe.  

This textbook for learners and teachers of the History of the Church focuses on the West and the South, on Europe and Africa, the continents whose histories have been increasingly intertwined since Antiquity. Since the 1960s, the classical dependence of the South on the North has changed dramatically. There is a clear shift in the centre of gravity of Christianity from the north to the south Atlantic, making African Christianity increasingly important. The future of European Christianity largely depends on a much-needed shift to mission-mindedness in the African churches.

I genuinely enjoyed Stephen’s earlier book on Christian Zionism so I’m looking forward to reading this, which he’s sent along for review.

The New Equinox App

This is pretty cool-

Dear Religious Studies Authors and Editors
Exciting news!

Ebooks are now available to order from the Equinox website (www.equinoxpub.com) and this week we have just launched our new Equinox app which you can download from your app store.

Take advantage of all kinds of discounts and free downloads, including:

* previews of forthcoming books
* our best discounts on print books, eBooks and journal subscriptions
* Read for free ‘eBooks’ of the week 
* free ‘virtual’ thematic issues drawing on content from across our publications
* special offers for conference participants
* conference schedules including abstracts for selected events 

Content is updated daily. Don’t miss out!

Valerie Hall

By the way- if you go to the app store to find the Equinox app, be sure to search for ‘Equinox publishing’ or you won’t find it.

From Gutenberg to Luther

64826Printed book cultures in Scandinavia before 1525 were formed by their vicinity to expanding European book markets. Collections of prints were founded, decisions on printing books in Scandinavia were based upon thorough knowledge of what printers on the continent achieved in question of volume, quality and price. Building on a large database of contemporary provenances and statistical analyses of every possible aspect of peripheral book markets, as well as on new readings of many old and new sources, this book recalibrates scholarly looks on Scandinavian book history before the Reformation. The result is a fresh portrait of a dynamic period in cultural history which places Scandinavia, though in the geographical periphery of Europe, in the middle of European printing.

Fun, right?!  Brill have sent a copy (PDF) for review.

The volume is comprised of the following chapters:

Introduction
1 Printing in and for Scandinavia before the Reformation
2 Scandinavian Book Trade and the European Context
3 Book Collections and Collectors: Churches and Monasteries
4 Book Collectors and Collections: Universities and Schools
5 Book Collectors and Collections: Private Owners
6 The Reception of Printed Works
Conclusion: Transnationalism and a Model for Scandinavian Pre-Reformation Book History

These are followed by a series of technical appendices:

Appendix 1 The Malmö List
Appendix 2 Books from the Principal Pre-Reformation Danish Religious Libraries
Appendix 3 The Lecturer’s Library in Slesvig
Appendix 4 The Inventory of a House Belonging to the Bishop of Odense, 1530–1532

And the work concludes with:

Bibliography
Index

The great benefit of this careful study is the light it sheds on the stage upon which the Reformation played out in far Northern Europe.

We are informed, on the very second page, that

Scandinavian book history must be understood as an integral part of European book history and examined in the light of European information and communication circuits and with all participants considered. This study will re-evaluate Scandinavian pre-Reformation book history, locating it within transnational structures and networks of printer-publishers, merchants and bookbinders, and customers and readers. Its primary concern is not intellectual history but the material history of printed books and images (p.2).

And so our author commences a thorough historical investigation of that culture, showing that not only were libraries often quite small but that before the Reformation some were shrinking. In one example, a Scandinavian library went from 127 books in 1461 to 76 in 1525 (footnote 3).

There are also very many charts and tables.  For instance, here’s one which shows the cost of books in the period under consideration.  The greatly varying costs are quite extraordinary:

Untitled

The book collections belonging to monasteries and churches, universities and individual readers all reveal the presence of not only large numbers of books but also a wide array of authors and works that are in keeping with the reading habits and literary canon found elsewhere in Europe (p. 312).

From first to last we are instructed in Scandinavian book culture.  We are the recipients of important details gifted us by the author of this volume, details which we find nowhere else in a convenient form ‘under one roof’ (as it were).

The drawback of the volume, of course, is that it is too brief and too narrowly focused.  I say that because what we need now is a volume which moves to the South and discusses book culture in the Germanic lands in the same period of time.  That volume; a volume such as that, would be a windfall to Reformation scholars.  My hope is that our author, a very gifted academic, will write such a volume in the very near future.

In the meanwhile, until that happens, Reformation scholars should take full advantage of the volume at hand.

The Myth of Rebellious Angels: Studies in Second Temple Judaism and New Testament Texts

9780802873156This looks fun (and I’ll be able to let you know how fun once I’ve read through the review copy Eerdmans have sent).

The mythical story of fallen angels preserved in 1 Enoch and related literature was profoundly influential during the Second Temple period. In this volume renowned scholar Loren Stuckenbruck explores aspects of that influence and demonstrates how the myth was reused and adapted to address new religious and cultural contexts.

Stuckenbruck considers a variety of themes, including demonology, giants, exorcism, petitionary prayer, the birth and activity of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the conversion of Gentiles, “apocalyptic” and the understanding of time, and more. He also offers a theological framework for the myth of fallen angels through which to reconsider several New Testament texts—the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, Acts, Paul’s letters, and the book of Revelation.

The Best Commentary Yet

the-person-the-pew-commentary-series

Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.

In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.

The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.

Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre

The PDF’s of the entire series are available. You can acquire them from yours truly for a paltry $199 by clicking my PayPal Link.  And be sure to include your email address so they can be sent to you.

Luther For the Youngsters

Unterwegs mit Luther – Ein Comic für den RU in Klasse 7–10

9783525702291Martin Luther war die schillernde Persönlichkeit der Reformation. In diesem Comic wird sein Leben in einem einzigartigen Stil nachgezeichnet und didaktisch aufbereitet.Martin Luther hatte viele Gesichter. Er war Mönch, Theologieprofessor, Reformator, aber auch Ehemann, Vater und ein durchaus schwieriger Charakter. Dieser Facettenreichtum wird aufgenommen, um den Schülerinnen und Schülern ein möglichst differenziertes Bild des Menschen Martin Luther zu geben. Der didaktische Anhang zeigt Möglichkeiten auf, den Comic ertragreich in Ihrem Religionsunterricht einzusetzen.Die schwarz-weißen Seiten im gedruckten Buch sind gut für den Kopierer geeignet. Im mitgelieferten E-Book finden Sie sie gleichzeitig einsatzbereit in Farbe.

Fun Facts From Church History: The Publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and Zwingli

You may not know this, but Erasmus’ edition of the GNT appeared on the 2nd of March, 1516.  Zwingli made a copy, by hand of course, of the Letters of Paul that same year.  Interestingly, and significantly, those marginal notes demonstrate that Zwingli was moving towards reform then (in 1516) before anyone had ever heard the name of Luther.

zwing_paul

Petrus Dathenus und der Heidelberger Katechismus

9783525552476Der Heidelberger Katechismus zählt zu den zentralen Lehr- und Bekenntnisschriften des reformierten Protestantismus. Bei seiner Abfassung wurde in nicht unerheblichem Maße auf Stoff aus älteren Katechismen reformierter Prägung zurückgegriffen. Neben dem großen und dem kleinen Katechismus von Zacharias Ursinus (1534–1583) und dem Genfer Katechismus Johannes Calvins (1509–1564) sind dies insbesondere eine Reihe niederländischer bzw. niederdeutscher Katechismen. Die Rezeption letzterer wird in der Forschungsliteratur häufig auf den Einfluss einer Gruppe niederländischer Glaubensflüchtlinge zurückgeführt, die 1562 im leerstehenden Kloster Frankenthal in der Kurpfalz Asyl fanden.

Der Prediger dieser Gruppe, Petrus Dathenus (1531/32–1588) steht dabei exemplarisch für die (west-)europäische Ausrichtung der Kurpfälzischen Politik in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts: Als Theologe setzte er sich intensiv für die Verbreitung des Heidelberger Katechismus in der Niederlande ein, als Gesandter des Kurfürsten versuchte er, Einfluss auf die spannungsreiche politische Lage in seinem Heimatland zu nehmen.Tobias Schreiber untersucht die Frage, ob es tatsächlich jener Petrus Dathenus war, der die spezifisch niederländische bzw. niederdeutsche Katechismustradition in den Entstehungsprozess des Heidelberger Katechismus einbrachte und so den konfessionellen Wandel in der Kurpfalz um 1563 mitprägte. Der Autor nimmt dabei auch die 1563 kurz nach dem Katechismus veröffentlichte Kurpfälzische Kirchenordnung in den Blick.

V&R continue to bring to press volumes which expand our understanding of the Reformation by introducing a wider public to the life and work of generally unknown scholars.  This revised dissertation continues that tradition.

Tobias Schreiber first brings to our attention the status questionis and then launches straightaway into an examination of Dathenus’ pilgrimage from papacy to Reformed and his sojourn in London where he learned the faith more deeply and commenced in seriousness his own theological work.  From there we follow Dathenus’ further theological development as it is evidenced in his various compositions.

Throughout the volume the importance of various theological traditions is on full display.    More precisely, it is shown that one of the Reformed tradition’s most underrated thinkers was the product of many giants upon whose shoulders he stood.  We are privy to the truth that no person is influenced only by one idea or one document.  That is certainly true of Dathenus, whose own thought is shown to be the consequence of the blending of many streams of theological influence.

This is shown by copious documentation and by the frequent setting side by side of various theological texts along with Dathenus’ own works.  The result is a very fine study worthy of scholarly attention.  And Dathenus is very much worth reading in and of his own right.  He opines

Vom Anfang der Erneuerung des Evangeliums an haben sie (sc. die Evangelischen) alle übereinstimmend gelehrt, dass Christus das eine Haupt, Fundament, der eine König, Lehrer und Priester der Kirche sei, durch den die Gläubigen umsonst, allein aus Glauben ohne jede Werke von Gott gerecht gesprochen würden […]. Sie lehrten, dass die Kanonische Schrift vollständig [integram] und vollkommen [perfectam] sei, und dass in ihr nichts, was zum wahren Glauben und zur wahren Frömmigkeit notwendig ist, ausgelassen sei – dass ihr nichts hinzugefügt werden braucht noch kann: Dies bekennen sie bis jetzt offen (p. 193).

Or this:

„So definiere ich die Kirche: Die sichtbare Kirche Christi ist die Versammlung all jener sowohl wahrhaft Gläubiger als auch Heuchler, die das reine Evangelium bekennen, wobei sie die unreine Lehre fliehen, Christus als das eine und höchste Haupt, als Heiland, Priester und Mittler anerkennen und die Sakramente und die von Christus übergebenen Schlüssel recht gebrauchen“ (p. 194).

And the discussion of the Scriptures (on pages 198ff) is simply brilliantly insightful.  Proving, yet again, that anything we might say about theological matters has already been said long ago, and better; and all we need do is comb the archives to discover the un-mined riches of our own theological tradition.

Peter Martyr Vermigli for Children

untitledBorn in Florence, Italy, in 1499, Peter Martyr Vermigli decided that he wanted to teach God’s Word when he grew up. After many years of study, he became a well-respected leader in the Roman Catholic Church, yet he questioned the church’s teachings because he believed they were contrary to the Bible. Eventually forced to flee Italy and the Roman Church, Vermigli joined the Reformers north of the Alps and devoted the rest of his life to teaching, preaching, and writing about the great truths of the Protestant Reformation. He lived in many parts of Europe, and he influenced many of the most important figures of his times.

This volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series retells the story of a servant of Christ who left behind a postion of prominence in the Roman Church to courageously join the cause of the Protestant Reformation. Enhanced by illustrious, photographs, and additional information about the Reformation era, this account shows young readers how God can use the piety and talents of one man to advance the cause of His truth.

Get your child something great to read.

Books Multitask Too

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