Category Archives: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

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Der Synergistische Streit (1555–1564)

Im Jahr 1555 hielt der Leipziger Theologieprofessor Johann Pfeffinger eine Disputation über den freien Willen ab. In ihr betonte er, im Anschluss an die Lehre Philipp Melanchthons, dass der menschliche Wille eine Ursache bei der Rechtfertigung des Menschen sei. Diese Position wurde nach der erneuten Publikation dieser Disputation im Jahr 1558 in einem Sammelband, der alle Disputationen Pfeffingers vereinte, heftig bestritten.

Im Zentrum des Synergistischen Streits (1555/58−1564) stand die Frage nach der Möglichkeit eines freien menschlichen Willens und dessen Mitwirkung im Rechtfertigungsgeschehen. Insbesondere war strittig, ob der Mensch sich für den Empfang der göttlichen Gnade vorbereiten könne, oder ob er sich vollständig passiv gegenüber dem rechtfertigenden Handeln Gottes verhalte. Der Gefahr von Spaltungen innerhalb der Gemeinwesen durch die andauernden theologischen Streitigkeiten suchte insbesondere Herzog Johann Friedrich d.M. von Sachsen teils durch Vermittlungsbemühungen, teils auch durch Zwangsmaßnahmen entgegenzuwirken, sodass es schließlich zur Entlassung von Predigern im Herzogtum kam.

Im fünften Band der Edition „Controversia et Confessio“ sind für den Streit bedeutsame Texte von Johann Pfeffinger, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Victorin Strigel, Matthias Flacius, Nikolaus Gallus und anderen Theologen versammelt. Von besonderer Bedeutung ist die Präsentation des „Weimarer Konfutationsbuchs“ in diesem Zusammenhang.

The volume begins with a description of its aim, as part of a far larger project:

Der hier vorliegende fünfte Band des Mainzer Editionsprojekts „Controversia et Confessio“, dokumentiert den sog. „Synergistischen Streit“, der sich rund um die Frage entzündete, ob und in welcher Weise der menschliche Wille bei der Bekehrung des Menschen mitwirken könne.

This documentation makes possible a far richer, far deeper, far more expansive view of one of the most critical periods of the history of Christianity.

Professor Dingel’s helpful introduction places the period in context and places the chief proponents of the many theological debates of this era within that period.  Following are documents produced by the leading theologians of the period, each introduced and then the text of each provided here- many for the first time.  The works of Johann Pfeffinger, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Johann Stoltz, Matthias Flacius, Nikolaus Gallus, Simon Musaeus,  and Victorin Strigel.  There are also a number of confessional texts included.  In all there are 18 chapters featuring 18 documents.

The volume also includes the requisite indices and bibliographies.  The chief value, naturally, of the work is the making available of disparate documents representing a wide range of theological viewpoints from the very people who formulated those viewpoints, in their own words.  For instance, of von Amsdorf’s ‘Confession’, the document’s introduction states:

Im Frühjahr 1558 arbeitete Nikolaus von Amsdorf an seinem „Öffentlichen Bekenntnis“, in dem er alle Lehren, die er als falsch ansah, namentlich ver werfen wollte, um so sein theologisches Vermächtnis zu hinterlassen. Während Amsdorf diese Schrift verfasste, veröffentlichte Pfeffinger im März 1558 seine Disputation „De libertate humanae voluntatis quaestiones quinque“ in einem Sammelband aller seiner in Wittenberg gehaltenen Disputationen erneut. Dies wurde zum Anlass eines Streitschriftenwechsels zwischen den beiden. Denn Amsdorf reagierte darauf, indem er Pfeffingers Ansicht von der Möglichkeit zur Mitwirkung des menschlichen Willens an der Rechtfertigung umgehend verurteilte.  Pfeffinger verteidigte sich daraufhin mit seiner „Antwort“, was Amsdorf wiederum zum Anlass nahm, in der hier edierten Schrift Pfeffinger abermals zu attackieren.

The text of the document itself is in German (and Latin) and in it von Amsdorf remarks in due course

Was hab ich nu auff Pfeffinger erdicht oder gelogen? Denn das ist ein mal war, das die jenigen, so der heilige Geist nicht zeuhet vnd doch in die Predigt gehen vnd das Wort horen, konnen aus jren krefften das wort der verheischung nicht annemen noch ergreiffen, dieweil jr wille verderbt vnd dazu vom Teuffel nach seinem willen ge-[C 4r:]fangen.

The texts throughout are in Latin predominantly and German.  Footnotes, thankfully, rather than endnotes lead readers to positively essential details.

Scholars of the Reformation and Post-Reformation owe a great debt of gratitude to Prof. Dingel and to the publisher for this volume.  It places in the hands of the interested material that would otherwise simply not be available.  Indeed, even if one were able to track down these documents on the Post Reformation Digital Library, the very important introductions and notes along with the supplemental material are available nowhere else.

This volume is critically important, therefore, and belongs on the shelf of Reformation scholars everywhere.

Word of God, Words of Men

The book presents many aspects of the phenomenon of translation and commentary work of the Bible in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th and 17th centuries. It contains studies of eminent scholars as well as of some young adepts, coming mainly from Poland, but also from Lithuania and Czech Republic. The texts present various aspects of the researches conducted on this phenomenon nowadays. As it was an exceptional movement, extremely varied and long-time lasting, it would be difficult to offer its complete synthesis in one volume. Though, the exhaustive presentation of the historical and linguistic contexts allows the reader to understand the phenomenon. Intensified interest in translations of the Bible is closely connected with the interest in the Polish language, its literary expression as well as its grammatical and orthographic standardisation that occurred just in the same time. The intellectual activity related to the Bible contributed simultaneously to the development of the Polish literary language and even inspired the translations of the sacred texts of other religions present in the country. Moreover, contacts between different languages of Central and Eastern European area, where many attempts of new translations appeared, are very important. A quick rise of the different Reformation movements contributed to a »natural« need for new translations and commentaries to be used by community members. These new currents, first easily accepted and spread in the country, even when suppressed, could not stop this activity, and later new Catholic translations and commentaries of the post-Trident period, both in Polish and Lithuanian, proved it. Big part of study is also dedicated to particular typographical realizations of this activity and an interesting example of the musical expression directly inspired by the biblical translation, is also provided.

This work is extremely specialized and its focus is extraordinarily narrow.  Laser beam narrow.  I think it can be said with confidence that its audience will be a quite specific group of readers; which is a shame, because it is engaging, well written, and informative.

The link above takes readers to the book’s webpage where one finds a ‘leseprobe’.  There readers can sample the table of contents and the front matter.  Please do take a look at some point.

As I suggested above, this volume is quite focused and its chapters are very narrow in scope.  For instance:

Words of God Cut in Wood. Some Remarks about the Illustrations in Polish Renaissance Editions of the Bible.

And

Calvinist Bibles in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

And

The Lexis of the Gdansk Bible’s New Testament (1632) in Comparison to the Brest Bible’s New Testament (1563) and the New Testament of the Jakub Wujek Bible (1599) – in Search of Adequacy of the Translation into Renaissance Polish.

Such essays will be of interest primarily to specialists in the Eastern European Reformation.  Readers outside of that particular field will probably not be drawn by the title to the contents and readers of the contents will probably not be drawn to read the essays by means of the essay titles.  But, again, they should do so.

Although extremely specialized, these essays provide exactly what historians need: details.  They also provide very fine examples of how particularized historical studies should be pursued.

In our day of dilettantes and pseudo-scholars and when there is widespread belief that if you just read a wikipedia article on a topic, you are well informed and competent, such a study reminds us that historical research is complex and complicated and takes years of familiarizing oneself with primary and secondary sources.

This work, in other words, is a very helpful corrective to dilettantism and amateurism. Even if potential readers don’t think this volume is ‘their thing’, they should take a look.  Where else, after all, will you discover

True to the Humanist principle, the Protestants published new versions whose trademark was the claim, on the title page or in the preface, that the translation had been made from the originals. Often these translations were indeed based on the Hebrew and the Greek, but in their concern to fill an urgent need some translators had recourse to other strategies such as basing themselves on other vernacular or Latin versions reputed to be particularly faithful to the originals. The translation method was either philological, if the original was closely followed (as Erasmus did in his Latin version), or inspired, in a tradition going back to Luther (for this use of the terms philological and inspired cf. Schwarz: 1955, 61 ff). Translators representing the philological tradition seek to echo every Hebrew of Greek word as emanating from the Holy Ghost; an inspired translator will render his source text as faithfully as he can while being driven by the concern to make his language sound natural and idiomatic. The difference boils down to a choice between the ad verbum and the ad sensum principles.

This book teaches.  Enjoy learning.

Forthcoming Volumes of Interest

All from V&R.

Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest

Pál Ács discusses various aspects of the cultural and literary history of Hungary during the hundred years that followed the Battle of Mohács (1526) and the onset of the Reformation. The author focuses on the special Ottoman context of the Hungarian Reformation movements including the Protestant and Catholic Reformation and the spiritual reform of Erasmian intellectuals. The author argues that the Ottoman presence in Hungary could mean the co-existence of Ottoman bureaucrats and soldiers with the indigenous population. He explores the culture of occupied areas, the fascinating ways Christians came to terms with Muslim authorities, and the co-existence of Muslims and Christians. Ács treats not only the culture of the Reformation in an Ottoman context but also vice versa the Ottomans in a Protestant framework. As the studies show, the culture of the early modern Hungarian Reformation is extremely manifold and multi-layered. Historical documents such as theological, political and literary works and pieces of art formed an interpretive, unified whole in the self-representation of the era. Two interlinked and unifying ideas define this diversity: on the one hand the idea of European-ness, i. e. the idea of strong ties to a Christian Europe, and on the other the concept of Reformation itself. Despite its constant ideological fragmentation, the Reformation sought universalism in all its branches. As Pál Ács shows, it was re-formatio in the original sense of the word, i. e. restoration, an attempt to restore a bygone perfection imagined to be ideal.

Being a person fairly unfamiliar with the details of the Reformation in Eastern Europe, I found this work to be incredibly interesting.  From the very first section, which describes the influence of Erasmus and other intellectuals on the foundations of Reformation in Hungary, to the cultural context of Hungary (which is so amazingly interesting!) including its book culture and its theological understandings, to the reception and adaptation of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs among Hungarian dissidents, to the arrival and influence of the Ottomans, and the resurgence of the Roman church, every page is a revelation.

Here, for instance, we read –

The Reformation spread more easily and freely in the area under Ottoman occupation and in the Principality of Transylvania (a vassal state of the Porte) than in the Kingdom of Hungary under Habsburg rule. Radical trends of Protestantism, Antitrinitarianism and Szekler Sabbatarianism soon started to flourish in Ottoman-occupied Hungary and Transylvania.

And this genius bit-

I must admit that I love the period I study, and I may tend to idealize life in the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course, I know that this age is not better or worse than any other. These were harsh and cruel times in which chopped heads hung from the walls of Ottoman and Christian fortresses as war trophies, and religious opponents would often describe each other as devils springing straight out of hell. We can nonetheless affirm that people living in the age of the Ottoman period of Hungary were quite receptive of each other. The often cruel and violent debaters – Catholics and Protestants, Christians and Muslims – had studied each other’s works for years and lived close to each other also in a spiritual sense. There were lively and intricate commercial relations between the Christian world and Ottoman Hungary. This was not friendship, but a sense of connection.

The entire collection (and these are previously published in a variety of places) is an eye-opener on a particular slice of Church history.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will as well.

Tolle, lege!

Radikal-reformatorische Themen im Bild: Druckgrafiken der Reformationszeit (1520–1560)

In den Kernjahren der Reformationszeit bediente sich nicht nur der Kreis um Martin Luther des Mediums Bild, um theologische Positionen unter das Volk zu bringen, sondern auch Theologen dem Bereich der Radikalen Reformation. Die Fragen sind hierbei: Welche religiösen Themen und charakteristischen Denkfiguren fanden einen künstlerischen Widerhall? Mittels welcher Bildmotive wurden die theologischen Vorstellungen visuell und didaktisch erfahrbar gemacht? Die Rahmenbedingungen des Druckwesens im 16. Jahrhundert, Zensur und obrigkeitliche Verfolgung wirkten sich dabei auf die Möglichkeiten von Publikation und Distribution aus und bestimmten deren Handlungsspielräume. Ebenso beeinflusste die eigene Disposition in der Bilderfrage – von Bilderablehnung und Ikonoklasmus bis hin zum Erkennen agitatorischer, lehrhafter und meditativer Bildwerte – die künstlerische Darstellung. Abschließend verdeutlicht Christiane Gruber mit einem Blick auf Grafiken der Opponenten der Radikalen Reformation – Luther und seiner Anhänger – die thematische Vielfalt der Bildmotive als auch die Diskrepanz zwischen Selbstsicht und Fremdeinschätzung. Sie behandelt Titelbilder auf Druckwerken sowie illustrierte Flugblätter von Täufern und Spiritualisten (Karlstadt, Bünderlin, Denck, Hätzer, Hoffman, Münsteraner Täufer, Franck), Porträts von Schwenckfeld in ihrer Rezeptionsgeschichte und Handzeichnungen des Laienpredigers Ziegler. Theologische und ikonographische Ergebnisse bedingen sich hierbei gegenseitig und machen die erarbeiteten Themen interdisziplinär anschlussfähig.

What is this volume about?  The author informs us that

Verstärkt wendete sich die historische Arbeit in den letzten Jahrzehnten den Bildern zu, nicht länger liegt das Augenmerk allein auf Texten als historische Quelle. Wurden Bildmedien lange Zeit nur als Illustration genutzt und ihre geschichtlich-soziale Bedeutung unterschätzt, so gelang es durch diverse Bestrebungen von Historikern, Mediävisten und Kommunikationswissenschaftlern die umfassende, den schriftlichen Medien gleichwertige Aussagekraft von visuellen Produktionen wie Gemälden, Flugblättern, Fotografien, Plakaten und Filmen hervorzuheben. Die Forschung spricht von einem ‚visual / pictoral turn.

At hand, then, is a work that aims to use illustrative artwork as a key to historical interpretation.  To do so, the author assembles 52 images from volumes and broadsheets published in the sixteenth century and which relate to the Radical Reformation.

Art can teach us volumes about how things and movements and people are viewed by persons inhabiting a particular slice of history.   As, indeed, we all learned as children, ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’.

Those pictures may not reflect history ‘as it really happened’, though, because the artist is biased or historically misinformed.  But those pictures do tell us, quite clearly, how those artists, and the people they associated with, viewed particular people and things.

The benefit of the present work is that it helps us to understand how the Radical Reformation was understood and viewed by people much closer to it in time than we are.  And thus, it provides a fresh perspective.

The table of contents can be found here under leseprobe.

After providing all the necessary background information concerning images, the era, and artistic methods, Gruber analyzes the assembled materials in clear and helpful terms and shows the importance of such materials for historical reconstruction.

This book is worth your time.

More Than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe

This volume contains the plenary papers and a selection of shortpapers from the Seventh Annual RefoRC conference, which was held May 10–12th 2017 in Wittenberg. The contributions concentrate on the effects of Luther´s new theology and draw the lines from Luther´s contemporaries into the early seventeenth century. Developments in art, catholic responses and Calvinistic reception are only some of the topics. The volume reflects the interdisciplinarity and interconfessionality that characterizes present research on the 16th century reformations and underlines the fact that this research has not come to a conclusion in 2017. The papers in this conference volume point to lacunae and will certainly stimulate further research.

Contributors: Wim François, Antonio Gerace, Siegrid Westphal, Edit Szegedi, Maria Lucia Weigel, Graeme Chatfield, Jane Schatkin Hettrick, Marta Quatrale, Aurelio A. García, Jeannette Kreijkes, Csilla Gábor, Gábor Ittzés, Balázs Dávid Magyar, Tomoji Odori, Gregory Soderberg, Herman A. Speelman, Izabela Winiarska-Górska, Erik A. de Boer, Donald Sinnema, Dolf te Velde.

The editors describe the volume as follows:

The Seventh Annnual RefoRC conference, which was held May 10–12th 2017 in Wittenberg, focused on the topic More than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe. Close to ninety papers on this topic were presented and a selection of these is presented in this volume. Yet this selection reflects the broadness of the conference as well as the interdisciplinarity and interconfessionality that characterizes the Reformation Research Consortium. The conference underlined, once again, the fact that research on the reformations of the sixteenth century has not come to a conclusion in 2017. Quite the contrary, the 500th anniversary of Luther′s decisive action has demonstrated how wide a field of research is still open. The papers in this conference volume point to lacunae and will certainly stimulate further research.

The link above allows access to the table of contents, which do read.  As described above, the collection here published is comprised of papers presented at a conference concerning the Reformation and its intention was to examine the varieties of reformations which sprang up in the 16th century.  These papers do a very good job of precisely that, and their breadth and scope is the great strength of the volume.  So, for instance, in a discussion of the Reformation and marriage we read

It is one of the recognised core statements arising from the historical research done on the Reformation, that the Reformation had a lasting influence on gender relationship (cf. Westphal: 2016; Conrad: 2016). The topic of marriage is a particular focus of interest in this case because it is assumed that the structure it took was altered or renewed completely. Although a clearly defined doctrine on marriage is not actually being spoken about in this case, yet there are – according to the common consensus – topics in relation to numerous individual aspects in reaction to concrete problem areas that have been broached.

And at the conclusion of a very engaging discussion of Calvinism and the rise of pluralism in Europe, which focused especially on the Huguenots, we find these lines:

From 1559 on, the Huguenots began more and more consciously to distance themselves from the ecclesiastical unity in France. Such a situation, in which a church established itself without the involvement of the government, was entirely unique, so that the Huguenots had achieved a point of no return. The familiar, age-old notion of a European Christendom guided by the church, whose pastoral care and rituals structured and disciplined the whole life, as well as the notion of the corpus christianum – all of this was more or less changed in Reformation times, although it had already begun in the time leading up to that.

And of Dort-

The Synod of Dordt, which met for six and a half months from mid-November 1618 to the end of May 1619, was convened primarily to settle the Arminian controversy that had agitated the Netherlands for about twenty years. The synod also considered other discipline cases and made decisions on a variety of other ecclesiastical matters.

After which the author goes into deep detail about the topic.

Each essay contains a very fine bibliography and each is festooned with footnotes pointing to both primary and secondary sources.

This conference volume is very useful and will expand the knowledge of all who read it.

The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective

Frank van der Pol
The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective
Refo500 Academic Studies (R5AS) 51,
ISBN 13: 978-3-525-57070-8

In 11 essays The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective reflect ongoing investigations concerning the doctrine of election, with special focus on the Synod of Dort 1618–19. Important lines of demarcation between different Reformed orthodox groups and denominations find their root divergence, as well as historical concentration point, in relation to this very issue. The ongoing research presented in this collection can open up a fresh field of fertile investigation for theological discussion. Moreover, she may lead to interdisciplinary perspectives and a cooperative approach to research, also beyond the field of theology. For this too is the field of philosophers and historians, those who trace the history of Christianity or are studying early modern Europe.

The volume consists of three sections. In the first Part three essays reflect historical and philosophical issues before the Synod of Dort. Part Two explores aspects of the Synod of Dort itself. The focus in Part Three is on the reception of the Synod of Dort. Finally, the following question is answered: How were the Canons of Dort regarded in the 17th–19th century, and what does the history of their editions tell us?

The editor, Frank van der Pol, was the program leader of the combined research group Early Modern Reformed Theology (EMRT) of the theological universities Apeldoorn and Kampen. In cooperation with the A Lasco Bibliothek Emden the EMRT organized an international conference on Oct. 29 and 30, 2014 about the doctrine of election in reformed perspective. The research group is convinced that the dual line of research on history and theology of the Reformation tradition must continue and be strengthened. On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort, the researchers, wanting to do their work in a broader context with a wider dialogue, make their proceedings accessible for more people and institutes by publishing them in this volume.

When people think about the doctrine of election they normally, if they think about it at all, link election with predestination and once they begin down that road, they invariably like predestination with the dual notion of predestination to heaven and predestination to hell (the so-called ‘double decree’).  And that has become, in the popular mind, an idea of Calvin.

But all of that is wrong.  Election and predestination are not the same thing and the double decree has absolutely nothing to do with Calvin but instead with his descendants, the hyper-calvinists.  Indeed, Calvin’s own view of predestination was very reserved.

But of course most ‘YRR’ readers and even more of the general populace are completely oblivious concerning the facts of what they profess to believe.

Hence, we arrive at the present volume.  Here, in eleven essays by as ten authors (see the table of contents in the book description at the link above) set readers on the straight and narrow path of a correct understand of the outgrowth of the doctrine’s examination at the Synod of Dort.

In both German and English, the essays in the book take us from the consequences of Dort’s decisions in the Netherlands to the influence of Melanchthon to the towering figure of Calvin to critically important discussions of election at Dort itself to John Cameron’s Universalism and into the first half of the seventeenth century and then onto Remonstrant views of predestination and even further into the views of Schleiermacher on the doctrine of predestination.  We end with a description of the various incarnations of the Canons of Dort from the 17th through the 19th centuries.

Interestingly written and insightfully so, these essays are a much needed corrective to various popular misunderstandings of the Synod of Dort’s presentation of the important doctrine of Election and the reception history (for lack of a better term) of that doctrine post Dort.

Especially intriguing are the contributions of Selderhuis, de Boer (both of his), van Lieburg, Sinnema, and van der Pol.  They were all first presented as papers at a 2014 Conference at the John a Lasco library in Emden.  A conference, I regret, I was unable to attend.  And that’s one of the reasons why the present work (and those like it) which collect and disseminate Conference papers to a much wider audience are so important both for the guild and for scholars as individuals.

The aim of the editors is to

…stimulate further discussion on both this synod and on the doctrine of election.

I think they have succeeded wonderfully.  If Dort or Election are of interest to you, then I cannot but recommend that you read this volume.

Reforming Priesthood in Reformation Zurich: Heinrich Bullinger’s End-Times Agenda

The dramatic task of re-imagining clerical identity proved crucial to the Renaissance and Reformation. Jon Wood brings new light to ways in which that discussion animated reconfigurations of church, state, and early modern populace. End-Times considerations of Christian religion had played a part in upheavals throughout the medieval period, but the Reformation era mobilized that tradition with some new possibilities for understanding institutional leadership. Perceiving dangers of an overweening institution on the one hand and anarchic “priesthood of all believers” on the other hand, early Protestants defended legitimacy of ordained ministry in careful coordination with the state. The early Reformation in Zurich emphatically disestablished traditional priesthood in favour of a state-supported “prophethood” of exegetical-linguistic expertise. The author shows that Heinrich Bullinger’s End-Times worldview led him to reclaim for Protestant Zurich a notion of specifically clerical “priesthood,” albeit neither in terms of statist bureaucracy nor in terms of the traditional sacramental character that his precursor (Huldrych Zwingli) had dismantled. Clerical priesthood was an extraordinarily fraught subject in the sixteenth century, especially in the Swiss Confederation. Heinrich Bullinger’s private manuscripts helpfully supplement his more circumscribed published works on this subject. The argument about reclaiming a modified institutional priesthood of Protestantism also prompts re-assessment of broader Reformation history in areas of church-state coordination and in major theological concepts of “covenant” and “justification” that defined religious/confessional distinctions of that era.

Jon Wood’s lovely little book is a wonderful historical work which demonstrates the ultimate failure of Bullinger’s effort to reform the clergy before the end of all things.  As he states at the end of his work

Bullinger did not successfully chart the course of subsequent eras in terms of clerical identity or church-state relations.

To see how he arrived at this conclusion, readers are led from the general understanding of the end times in chapter one, to the second chapter where clergy and clericalization are the center of attention and then on in chapter three to what Wood titles ‘End-Times Interplay of Doctrine and Lifestyle’.

The fourth chapter is pivotal and describes the transformation of Zurich’s clerics from ‘Prophets’ to ‘Priests’.  Chapter five, which is quite brief, takes us to the question of Justification (although why is not really clear to me).  In an appendix there are diagrams from Bullinger’s Sermones Synodales.  All of this is followed by a list of abbreviations and a bibliography.

This study is a very helpful investigation of the air of eschatology that permeated Switzerland and, indeed, all of Christendom in the 16th century.  In light of that sense of doom and crisis, how the clergy were organized and what their work consisted of was a critically important issue.  Bullinger’s aims and goals, in light of all this, ultimately failed.  Probably, in the view of Wood, because of the stirrings of Enlightenment on the horizon towards the end of his life.

With the increase of human learning, and science, dependence on divine revelation ceased to carry the weight it formerly possessed. And everything changed- including the tasks of Clerics.  Had Bullinger been able to see that future, he may have adapted his clerical ideals towards it.  But since no one can tell the future, Bullinger’s plans came to nothing.

Which, given how well Wood explains those Bullingerian ideals, is quite a shame.  The Reformed tradition would have been much better off if Bullinger’s ideas had prevailed and held sway.

You’ll enjoy this volume.

Die politischen Gesetze des Mose: Entstehung und Einflüsse der politia-judaica-Literatur in der Frühen Neuzeit

Vordenker der Moderne wie Thomas Hobbes, Baruch de Spinoza, James Harrington, Christian Thomasius und viele mehr griffen in ihren politischen Lehren oft auf das Modell des alten jüdischen Gemeinwesens zurück. Entscheidend beeinflusste sie dabei ein Schrifttum (politiajudaica-Literatur), das in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts entstand und Moses Gesetze als politisches Vorbild darstellte. Markus M. Totzeck legt die erste vollständige Untersuchung zur Entstehung dieser Literatur vor. Die antiken außerbiblischen Mose-Traditionen bilden den Hintergrund seiner Arbeit. Diese Traditionen waren in der Frühen Neuzeit zum ersten Mal als Druckausgaben erschienen und hatten sich im Renaissance-Humanismus mit Konzeptionen einer uralten Theologie und Weisheit (prisca theologia bzw. prisca sapientia) des Mose verbunden. Totzeck stellt heraus, wie Debatten über die politische Relevanz der mosaischen Gesetze später in der Reformation zur Entstehung der politiajudaica-Literatur beitrugen. Die ersten Werke stammten aus der Feder humanistischer Gelehrter, die in erster Linie ausgebildete Juristen und Historiographen waren, zugleich aber auch einen mehrheitlich calvinistischen Hintergrund hatten. Die Nähe zwischen humanistischer Jurisprudenz und dem Calvinismus prägte die politiajudaica-Literatur in einer ersten Phase bis zu Petrus Cunaeus’ Werk De republica Hebraeorum libri III (1617). Die Verbreitung dieses Buchklassikers des 17. Jahrhunderts führte den ursprünglichen Rechtsdiskurs in umfangreichere politische Diskussionen.

As studies go, this one is both interesting and extensive.  At the same time, it is overpopulated and attempts, in my view, to accomplish too much.  The second chapter, for example, is a monograph on its one (see the table of contents at the link above).  The fifth chapter too is a monograph of its own.  The author clearly knows his own mind and he has a very intelligent way of expressing it.  Still, there are, to be frank, too many words.  Too many ideas are here brought together; ideas which, again, are better suited to their own individual treatment.

It isn’t that the book is too long.  It is too broad.  Sections of great interest to me include:

  • Debatten über die Geltung und politische Relevanz der mosaischen Gesetze in der Reformationszeit.
  • Die sog. Zwickauer Propheten und die Wittenberger Unruhen von 1521.
  • Heinrich Bullingers Eigenbeitrag in der reformierten Gesetzeslehre gegenüber Ulrich Zwingli in Zürich.
  • Von Straßburg nach Genf, von Johannes Calvin zu Theodor Beza.
  • Die politischen Gesetze Moses als Modell in der calvinistisch-reformierten Theologie.

But then it goes on to include

  • Transformationen: das mosaische Gemeinwesen als politisches Programm für das 17. Jahrhundert.

The problem, in my estimation, with this approach is that the reader is left with the unsettling sensation that one has tried to digest too much.  It’s similar to, metaphorically speaking, sitting down at a table and eating a full thanksgiving meal (chapter two) and being thoroughly satisfied by it and suddenly the host appearing in the room and announcing that Grandma’s birthday is that day and now we need to eat her favorite dinner along with her favorite dessert.  In sum, it is an overwhelming feast and it needs to be divided up into a couple of separate sit downs.

This volume should be two volumes, in other words.  The purpose of the work, in the words of its author, is to explain this thesis:

Die politischen Gesetze des Mose – in der Frühen Neuzeit verstand man dies im Sinne einer Eingrenzung: Zwar kann jedes Gesetz in irgendeiner Form als politisch verstanden werden, aber hier ging es um einen bestimmten Bereich des Rechts, der in Moses Gesetzen formuliert war, und im weitesten Sinne die politische Rechtsordnung, im engsten Verständnis die Gerichtsbarkeit betraf.

That’s a lot to do.  And it is done, in fine (if demanding) form.

I do recommend this work.  I enjoyed it very much.  Were I advising the author, I would advise him as I’ve suggested above: when it comes to the broad theme adopted for your thesis and it seems as though one book will do, write two.

Radikal-reformatorische Themen im Bild: Druckgrafiken der Reformationszeit (1520–1560)

In den Kernjahren der Reformationszeit bediente sich nicht nur der Kreis um Martin Luther des Mediums Bild, um theologische Positionen unter das Volk zu bringen, sondern auch Theologen dem Bereich der Radikalen Reformation. Die Fragen sind hierbei: Welche religiösen Themen und charakteristischen Denkfiguren fanden einen künstlerischen Widerhall? Mittels welcher Bildmotive wurden die theologischen Vorstellungen visuell und didaktisch erfahrbar gemacht? Die Rahmenbedingungen des Druckwesens im 16. Jahrhundert, Zensur und obrigkeitliche Verfolgung wirkten sich dabei auf die Möglichkeiten von Publikation und Distribution aus und bestimmten deren Handlungsspielräume. Ebenso beeinflusste die eigene Disposition in der Bilderfrage – von Bilderablehnung und Ikonoklasmus bis hin zum Erkennen agitatorischer, lehrhafter und meditativer Bildwerte – die künstlerische Darstellung. Abschließend verdeutlicht Christiane Gruber mit einem Blick auf Grafiken der Opponenten der Radikalen Reformation – Luther und seiner Anhänger – die thematische Vielfalt der Bildmotive als auch die Diskrepanz zwischen Selbstsicht und Fremdeinschätzung. Sie behandelt Titelbilder auf Druckwerken sowie illustrierte Flugblätter von Täufern und Spiritualisten (Karlstadt, Bünderlin, Denck, Hätzer, Hoffman, Münsteraner Täufer, Franck), Porträts von Schwenckfeld in ihrer Rezeptionsgeschichte und Handzeichnungen des Laienpredigers Ziegler. Theologische und ikonographische Ergebnisse bedingen sich hierbei gegenseitig und machen die erarbeiteten Themen interdisziplinär anschlussfähig.

Fun, right?!?!  With thanks to Refo500 for the heads up.

The Council of Trent: Reform and Controversy in Europe and Beyond (1545-1700)

Volume One of this three volume series has been reviewed previously, here.  The publisher also sent volumes two and three for review.

And, as always, people interested in any V&R publications in North America can order them from their distribution partner, ISD.

Exactly 450 years after the solemn closure of the Council of Trent on 4 December 1563, scholars from diverse regional, disciplinary and confessional backgrounds convened in Leuven to reflect upon the impact of this Council, not only in Europe but also beyond. Their conclusions are to be found in these three impressive volumes. Bridging different generations of scholarship, the authors reassess in a first volume Tridentine views on the Bible, theology and liturgy, as well as their reception by Protestants, deconstructing many myths surviving in scholarship and society alike. They also deal with the mechanisms ‘Rome’ developed to hold a grip on the Council’s implementation. The second volume analyzes the changes in local ecclesiastical life, initiated by bishops, orders and congregations, and the political strife and confessionalisation accompanying this reform process. The third and final volume examines the afterlife of Trent in arts and music, as well as in the global impact of Trent through missions.

 

A click on the volume links above will take one to the table of contents and other relevant materials.  Before proceeding you are requested to go there so as to be ‘up to speed’ with what these two works contain.

Once one comes to the realization that the volumes are comprised with the clearest and most thorough analysis of the Council of Trent presently available one can appreciate more fully the incredible importance of these works.

Volume two’s focus on clerics and governmental authority provides important materials which themselves provide insights into the 16th and 17th centuries as they are experienced by some of society’s most important personages.  To say that another way, how clerics and government officials saw themselves and their tasks are on full and clear display.  This ‘from the top down’ perspective isn’t mere elitism exposed, however but rather a clear portrayal of the wrestlings involved in important cultural trends and decisions.  And all of this in reaction and response to the decrees of the Council of Trent.

But it is volume three which enthralls and delights.  From the ways that Trent influenced art and music to the working out of the implications of Trent for Catholicism in Asia and the Global South, each essay opens new vistas and provides new insights on a very wide world.

The fact that so few (in Protestant circles) know how important and influential Trent was can be laid at the doorstep of our modern tendency to simply scratch the surface of a topic (chiefly, for many misled souls, on the wikipedia website) instead of drilling down to the meat of topics.    If one were to take, for instance, the entry in the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (which is, it has to be said, a very fine resource) as an example, one would discover merely the bare bones outline of the Council’s significance (and that, again, is as deep as most people dive today):

The spread of Protestantism and the drastic need of moral and administrative reforms within the RC Church led to widespread demand among Catholics for a Universal Council, but disputes between *Charles V and others who favoured such action, and the Popes, who were generally averse to it, long prevented a move. At last *Paul III summoned a council to Mantua for 23 May 1537, but the plan fell through owing to French resistance. In 1538 further proposals for a council at Vicenza were frustrated by the unexpected indifference of the Emperor. In 1542 the Pope again convoked the Council, this time to Trent. After yet another postponement it eventually met on 13 Dec. 1545. At the outset it was a very small assembly, composed of 3 legates, 1 cardinal, 4 archbishops, 21 bishops, and 5 generals of orders.

After describing the various Periods of the Council, they conclude

The Council ended on 4 Dec. 1563. The decrees were confirmed in a body on 26 Jan. 1564 by Pius IV, who in the same year published the ‘Profession of the Tridentine Faith’, a brief summary of doctrine, generally known as the *Creed of Pius IV. Several important works, which the Council recommended or initiated but could not effectually carry through, were handed over to the Pope for completion. The revision of the Vulgate, ordered at Trent in 1546, was concluded under *Clement VIII in 1592; and *Pius V founded the Congregation of the Index in 1571 to carry out other unfinished work, having himself issued the ‘*Roman Catechism’ (1566) and revised *Breviary (1568) and *Missal (1570). Though the Council failed to satisfy the Protestants and its reforms were less comprehensive than many Catholics had hoped for, it had established a solid basis for the renewal of discipline and the spiritual life in the RC Church, which emerged from Trent with a clearly formulated doctrinal system and an enhanced religious strength for the subsequent struggle with Protestantism.*

The entire discussion covers but two columns.  And yet thoroughness matters, and the three volumes titled The Council of Trent: Reform and Controversy om Europe and Beyond (1545-1700) make that more than abundantly clear.  They should be read.  Indeed, in my humble view, students of the history of the Church should oblige themselves to read more than surface scratches.  Tolle, lege!

____________________
*F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1650-1651.

Die letzten Könige von Juda: Eine narratologische und intertextuelle Lektüre von 2 Kön 23,30–25,30

Die letzten Könige von Juda führen das Gottesvolk direkt ins Exil und in die Katastrophe der Zerstörung des Ersten Tempels. Wie dies geschieht, wer die Verantwortung trägt und welche Rolle Gott in diesem Drama spielt, sind die Fragen, denen Benedikt Collinet nachspürt. Die Könige sind nicht, wie die Erzählweise nahelegt, Hauptdarsteller des Dramas, sondern Antagonisten zu Gott. Dieser verwendet die Nachbarvölker und Babel als Strafwerkzeuge. Der Grund für die Strafen ist der systemisch gewordene Bundesbruch des Gottesvolkes. Die Bemessung der Strafen ist vertraglich geregelt (Dtn 28). Die Geschichte ist eine durchkomponierte Dekonstruktion der göttlichen Heilszusagen. Die Heilsgaben werden zurückgenommen, die Verheißungen aber bleiben intakt. Das Volk braucht einen Neuanfang, der in Anspielung auf den Exodus, einzig in der Begnadigung Jojachins angedeutet bzw. vorbereitet wird (2 Kön 25,27-30).

An English version of this carefully written work is in process.  The author provides a helpful abstract of the contents in an appendix:

This dissertation thesis deals with the ending of 2 Kings in recent literary studies. It asks what and how 2 Kgs 23:30–25:30 narrate the Fall of Jerusalem and the reign of Judah’s last kings with help of narrative analyses and intertextual references in special shape for Biblical texts. The focus is on the books of Gen to 2 Kgs.

Before these two parts a discussion of the history of interpretation from ancient exegetes until recent studies is done. Not only Christian but also Jewish writers and commentaries were read so that an overall survey on the academic reception is given. A translation of the Hebrew text (mainly MT) combined with text critical comments on the OG version and Ant/Luc opens the interpretation on the text.

The narrative analysis begins with time and space and deals afterwards with the characters in the intratextual (isolated) chapters 23:30–25:30. Open questions are answered in part D. The context helps to understand the story better, so the whole complex of what2Kgs 25 might be the end is used for an intertextual study. Lexematic work, word groups, names and motives get analysed to understand the literary and theological meaning of the text.

Two very important questions are why and to what extent does the character »YHWH« judge and punishe his people so hard?What is the use of the last Kings of Judah?

An important point, the study worked out, is the composed judgment and deconstruction of the kindgom in the people of YHWH. On the other hand YHWH strenghtens his salvation promises by keeping them and the Torah – even if this meens a curse for the people of Israel (Dtn 28). God is true to his people even if they fail, but when they fail salvation becomes curse.

The kings of Judah have to show the peoples that YHWH is the one and only God in the world, because they got this mission for the whole people of God latest after the Fall of the Northern Kingdom. They were not able to fulfill their mission, so that injustice becomes systematic and YHWH makes himself to chose the ultima ratio to rescue a rest of his people. He punishes in the way of his contract (Dtn 28), because the people failed, esp. the kings (Dtn 17 vs. realtiy of 1.2 Kgs).

All salvation gets lost, but the promises are still intact. In the end a new perspective for Israel in the HB/OT is looked for. Jehoiachin, so the thesis, is like Joseph (Gen 41) preparing the people for a new Exodus. He prepares, but he will never see it. An English translation of the thesis is planned.

I couldn’t have said it better or more concisely.  I can add, though, that the work is carefully written and it is utterly thorough in its presentation.  No stone is left unturned, no issue left aside, no scholar ignored.  The work is a virtual reception history of the passage under investigation.  As such, it is an indispensable volume for students of the Deuteronomistic history.  I cannot but recommend it.

More Than Luther: The Reformation and the Rise of Pluralism in Europe

This volume contains the plenary papers and a selection of shortpapers from the Seventh Annual RefoRC conference, which was held May 10–12th 2017 in Wittenberg. The contributions concentrate on the effects of Luther´s new theology and draw the lines from Luther´s contemporaries into the early seventeenth century. Developments in art, catholic responses and Calvinistic reception are only some of the topics. The volume reflects the interdisciplinarity and interconfessionality that characterizes present research on the 16th century reformations and underlines the fact that this research has not come to a conclusion in 2017. The papers in this conference volume point to lacunae and will certainly stimulate further research.

Contributors: Wim François, Antonio Gerace, Siegrid Westphal, Edit Szegedi, Maria Lucia Weigel, Graeme Chatfield, Jane Schatkin Hettrick, Marta Quatrale, Aurelio A. García, Jeannette Kreijkes, Csilla Gábor, Gábor Ittzés, Balázs Dávid Magyar, Tomoji Odori, Gregory Soderberg, Herman A. Speelman, Izabela Winiarska-Górska, Erik A. de Boer, Donald Sinnema, Dolf te Velde.

A review copy has arrived.  More soon.

Happy Anniversary to one of the Best Publishers in the World

vr

The Council of Trent: Reform and Controversy in Europe and Beyond (1545-1700)

Exactly 450 years after the solemn closure of the Council of Trent on 4 December 1563, scholars from diverse regional, disciplinary and confessional backgrounds convened in Leuven to reflect upon the impact of this Council, not only in Europe but also beyond. Their conclusions are to be found in these three impressive volumes. Bridging different generations of scholarship, the authors reassess in a first volume Tridentine views on the Bible, theology and liturgy, as well as their reception by Protestants, deconstructing many myths surviving in scholarship and society alike. They also deal with the mechanisms ‘Rome’ developed to hold a grip on the Council’s implementation. The second volume analyzes the changes in local ecclesiastical life, initiated by bishops, orders and congregations, and the political strife and confessionalisation accompanying this reform process. The third and final volume examines the afterlife of Trent in arts and music, as well as in the global impact of Trent through missions.

All the details of the volume can be found here.   Just click the Leseprobe tab.  There you will find the table of contents, etc., so that those materials won’t be repeated here.

Readers of book reviews generally want to know what the book under consideration contain (and thanks to the internet, that information is now generally available on the publisher’s website) and, more importantly, if it’s worth buying or recommending to their library or even checking out from their lending source.

Further, potential readers of the book want to know if there are problems with it.  If it fails to meet the reader’s needs or doesn’t deliver the advertised scholarship then the review it receives should reflect those facts.  If, however, it meets expectations or surpasses them, it receives a more positive review.

This book meets expectations.  And it is the first of a planned three in the series.  Volume two will take in hand the Bishops and Princes along with Church and Politics.  And volume three will turn our attention to Art and Music followed by Global Catholicism.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself a bit and wish to return to consideration of the present volume.  It’s highlight, for me, is the chapter titled Trent and the Latin Vulgate: A Louvain Project?  This really amazing piece traces the incredible significance of the Louvain-ers in the production and promulgation of the biblical text that would be chosen as THE Catholic Bible.   Seldom does one encounter such carefully reconstructed historical detail.  Text critics and students of the history of the Vulgate will benefit immensely from reading this essay.

Equally enjoyable is G. Frank’s essay on Melanchthon and Trent.  Perhaps because I enjoy Melanchthon so much or perhaps because Frank is such a clear writer.

Not, strictly speaking, a theological essay but rather a historical one is Sachet’s “Privilege of Rome: The Catholic Church’s Attempt to Control the Printed Legacy of the Council of Trent”.  The attempts of Rome to control the narrative about Trent by controlling what was published of and from it is extremely intriguing.  The Church of Rome has always manifested a fairly high level of control.  This essay shows how that mentality worked itself out in the wake of Trent.

Enjoyable too is the essay by John O’Malley on Trent and Vatican II.  Here he shows that in spite of the major differences between the two Councils, they share some amazing similarities.  ‘They nicely illustrate the paradox of history’, opines O’Malley in the closing paragraphs.  I will let readers discover for themselves the surprise in store.

I think this is a very fine collection of essays and if volumes two and three are as excellent, then this series will become standard fare for historians of the Catholic Church.  I am happy to recommend it to your personal library and to your research library.  It fills an important gap in that it goes into greater detail on the issues of the Council of Trent than more general treatments and histories do.

Where the general textbooks scratch the surface, this volume bores into the bone.

A New Divinity

Mark Jones, Michael A. G. Haykin
A New Divinity
Reformed Historical Theology 49
ISBN 13: 978-3-525-55285-8

This is a study on Reformed theological debates during the »Long Eighteenth Century« in Britain and New England. By »Long« a period that goes beyond 1700–1799 is in view. This examination begins just before the eighteenth century by looking at the Neonomian-Antinomian debate in the 1690s. This is followed by the Marrow Controversy in Scotland in the eighteenth century. After that, the authors address the ecclesiological debates between George Whitefield and the Erskines. The doctrine of free choice concerning Edwards and his departure from classical Reformed orthodoxy is highlighted next, followed by reflections on the Edwardseans and the atonement. Returning to Britain again, the volume provides a study on hyper-Calvinism, and on eschatological differences among key figures in the eighteenth century. More specific debates in particular Baptist circles are noted, including the battle over Sandemandianism and the Trinitarian battles fought by Andrew Fuller and others. Returning to ecclesiology, a discussion on the subscription controversy in Philadelphia in the early eighteenth century and an analysis of the debate about the nature of »revival« in New England close this volume.

I appreciate V&R sending along a review copy (supplied by their North American distributor, ISD).

Readers are encouraged to click on the link above and then scroll down to the ‘Leseprobe’ tab to see the table of contents and other front matter.  Those materials aren’t repeated here since they are easily available there.

The twelve essays here collected offer readers very carefully presented materials on a number of very intriguing aspects of the history of the Church in its Reformed manifestation in 17th and 18th century England and America.  In particular, VanDoodewaard’s work on the Marrow Controversy, Helm’s on Hyper-Calvinism, Herzer on Eschatology, Finn on Sandemanianism, and Smart on the Great Awakening are wonderfully crafted academic essays.  Smart, concise, and informative are the three terms that come to mind whilst reading these contributions.

The editor’s introduction (which can be read at the link above) nicely outlines the essays here included and shows their relatedness.  The volume also includes a list of contributors and an index of persons.

The chief aim is nicely encapsulated in the last paragraph-

Would I recommend this collection?  Certainly.  Go read this book then.  And you’ll love it.

Christ and the Old Covenant

A new volume by V&R in the Refo500 Historical Theology series has appeared:

This study explores the Cocceian-Voetian debate through the eyes of Francis Turretin (1623–1687). There is a dearth of research on Turretin’s take on this debate, the author will parse out how Turretin adheres to the Voetianism of the Utrecht theologian Melchior Leydekker (1642–1721) while remaining conciliatory to the Cocceians. With Leydekker, Turretin argues that Christ’s suretyship in the Old Testament is identical to what it is in the New Testament. As the Father decrees that Christ is the most perfect and certain fulfiller of God’s promise, the ancients benefit from Christ’s sacrifice as much as do the saints in the New. The sins of the elect must be fully forgiven regardless of the progress of redemption in history, for the faithful both in the Old and the New are saved by the same grace of Christ, the expromissor. At the same time, not only does Turretin leave out some of the controversial issues between the two parties, but he also tends to neutralize Leydekker’s acid criticism of the extreme form of Cocceianism. This conciliatory gesture indicates that Turretin does not consider Cocceianism his archenemy. Seen in this light, Turretin can be viewed as a moderate and peaceful Voetian.

The volume at hand is, in a word, complex and specialized.  It is for specialists, by one.  It’s contents are neither for the faint at heart nor the poorly informed.  And readers will know that when they land on the very first paragraph:

There is no scholarly consensus on the nature of the Mosaic law and its role in the history of redemption. To what extent did the Mosaic law recapitulate the covenant of works? How were the people of God saved under the legal economy? How did Christ reveal himself to his people before the incarnation? These are the key questions that should be answered when one situates the Mosaic law within the framework of covenant theology. It is little known today that the Reformed orthodox in the seventeenth century already debated over these questions.

Things don’t become simpler or less specialized as the work progresses:

This study explores this intra-Reformed controversy through the eyes of Francis Turretin.  … This book will show how Turretin adheres to the Voetianism of the Utrecht theologian Melchior Leydekker (who is also known as Leydecker or Leidekker, 1642–1721) while remaining conciliatory to the Cocceians.  With Leydekker, Turretin argues that Christ’s suretyship in the Old Testament is identical to what it is in the New Testament.

And off we go.  In this intensive and demanding study readers come to encounter one of the most focused debates of Reformed Orthodoxy.  It’s the sort of thing that makes the Medieval question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin seem like watching the Dukes of Hazzard or Gilligan’s Island.  Allow me to illustrate:

Our investigation suggests that in spite of their common Voetian stance, the ninth quaestio of the twelfth locus of Turretin’s Institutio and the second liber of Leydekker’s Vis veritatas are by no means monolithic. Turretin aims his polemic at a number of the Cocceians, the plural “Viri Docti” (12.9.9), whereas Leydekker’s acerbic remarks are geared toward the problematic writer of the booklet, the singular “Vir Doctus” (a:73).

And again

Turretin’s and Leydekker’s accounts of the Old Testament fathers’ status stands as a sequel to their treatment of the expromissio/fidejussio debate. As Turretin points out, “The quaestio about the Sponsor of the Covenant of Grace under the Old Testament” springs from “the fathers’ [Old Testament saints’] status under the Old Testament,” and therefore, deciding the nature of Christ’s suretyship greatly affects the present quaestio, De statu patrum sub Vetero Testamento.

I cite these passages to make it plain that only persons who have a quite specific interest in a quite specific slice of Reformed Orthodox debate will find the work to be of use.  Generalists and those looking for a volume treating a wider aspect of Church history or Historical Theology will be nonplussed.  But those who are of the sort who are the intended audience of this revised Doctoral dissertation will find it rich and full and thoroughly fascinating.

Put another way, and more colloquially, Reformed Orthodox nerds will love it!  I would suggest that readers begin with Chapter 8, though, as it summarizes the argument and sort of serves as a map to the whole.  Along with the usual materials in such a volume there’s also an appendix which lists the contents of Leydekker’s Vis Veritatis (which you can read online, by the way, here).

Theology of the Old Testament

From V&R.

Michaela Bauks zeichnet in diesem Lehrbuch zur Theologie des Alten Testaments die impliziten theologischen Konzepte des Alten Testaments nach. Altorientalische Traditionen, literargeschichtliche Entwicklungen und bibelhermeneutische Überlegungen werden behandelt, auch die kirchliche und schulische Praxis wird eigens berücksichtigt.

Das Lehrbuch präsentiert die zentralen theologischen Themen der hebräischen Bibel in der Reihenfolge der gegebenen Grundformen. Zur Erzählung, zum Recht, zur Prophetie, zum Kult und zur Weisheit finden Interessierte bei Bauks die zentralen Informationen. Im Kern geht es Bauks um die verschiedenartigen Offenbarungsformen Gottes gegenüber den Menschen und seinem Volk. Neben literargeschichtlichen Aspekten und innerbiblischer Entwicklungslinien finden daher auch die traditionsgeschichtlichen Parallelen und altorientalische Traditionen Berücksichtigung.

Im Detail werden die Themenkreise Monotheismus, Götterbild, Gottesname, Gottes Königtum, Eschatologie und Geschick Israels verhandelt. Anhand dieser Themenbereiche wird die Gottesvorstellung der hebräischen Bibel systematisch vertieft.

Der Bezugsrahmen der „Heiligen Schrift“ wird von Bauks kanonhermeneutisch und biblisch-theologisch reflektiert und umrissen.

Insgesamt finde sich in diesem Buch damit alles, was man fürs Studium braucht: 

das Wichtigste über theologische Konzepte, altorientalische Traditionen, literargeschichtliche Entwicklungen sowie Impulse zur Hermeneutik des Alten Testaments.

This uniquely organized volume is comprised of three major divisions:

  1. Introduction
  2. Theological Themes in their Biblical Contexts
  3. Old Testament Theology as Polyphonic Speech of God

It also contains two appendices and the usual indices and listing of illustrations.  The very first sentence of the introduction describes the volume’s purpose:

Dieses Buch ist ein Lehrbuch, das die zentralen theologischen Themen des Alten Testaments/der hebräischen Bibel zusammenstellt.

Fulfilling that task, our author leads readers into the majestic vistas which comprise the Hebrew Bible.  But this is done in such a way that the pedagogical needs of Professors and students are central.  For instance, one of the tables included shows, in a quite useful way, the variety of approaches to the study of the Hebrew Bible:

Armed with this material, readers are able to trace the various ways in which the Bible can be studied and appreciated.

Another useful aspect of the volume is the inclusion of quite thorough and up to date bibliographies at the conclusion of each chapter.  For example, in part, after the discussion of the Psalms, we find

English entries are also included when deemed appropriate by the author.

There’s something else that’s unique about this volume and that’s its interest in the inclusion of the Old Testament in the preaching of the Church.  To that end, one of the appendices, Anhang 1: Alttestamentliche Themen und Texte in der Perikopenordnung, by Jochen Wagner, offers an outline of the Church year with appropriate readings for the Liturgical Calendar:

The second appendix provides religious education teachers an outline for a course in Old Testament.

In sum, this volume has an eye to the needs of the Professor, the student, the preacher, and the teacher.  It does a superb job in presenting the themes found in the Old Testament and explaining those themes in a clear and helpful way.  It is utterly enjoyable and thoroughly instructive.  I recommend it.

Reforming Priesthood in Reformation Zurich: Heinrich Bullinger’s End-Times Agenda

Jon D. Wood
Reforming Priesthood in Reformation Zurich
Reformed Historical Theology 54
ISBN 13: 978-3-525-57092-0

The dramatic task of re-imagining clerical identity proved crucial to the Renaissance and Reformation. Jon Wood brings new light to ways in which that discussion animated reconfigurations of church, state, and early modern populace. End-Times considerations of Christian religion had played a part in upheavals throughout the medieval period, but the Reformation era mobilized that tradition with some new possibilities for understanding institutional leadership. Perceiving dangers of an overweening institution on the one hand and anarchic “priesthood of all believers” on the other hand, early Protestants defended legitimacy of ordained ministry in careful coordination with the state. The early Reformation in Zurich emphatically disestablished traditional priesthood in favour of a state-supported “prophethood” of exegetical-linguistic expertise. The author shows that Heinrich Bullinger’s End-Times worldview led him to reclaim for Protestant Zurich a notion of specifically clerical “priesthood,” albeit neither in terms of statist bureaucracy nor in terms of the traditional sacramental character that his precursor (Huldrych Zwingli) had dismantled. Clerical priesthood was an extraordinarily fraught subject in the sixteenth century, especially in the Swiss Confederation. Heinrich Bullinger’s private manuscripts helpfully supplement his more circumscribed published works on this subject. The argument about reclaiming a modified institutional priesthood of Protestantism also prompts re-assessment of broader Reformation history in areas of church-state coordination and in major theological concepts of “covenant” and “justification” that defined religious/confessional distinctions of that era.