Category Archives: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

A New Volume in Open Access: Common Man, Society and Religion in the 16th century

The majority of the essays in this anthology come from current or recently concluded research-projects. They were presented at a research conference on 12–14 June 2017 (theme: church and population in the Transylvanian village – background and conditions of reception as well as influences from society, ethnicity, church and politics in the century of the Reformation) at the Institute for Humanities of the Romanian Academy (Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Sibiu) in Hermannstadt (Rom. Sibiu).

Go to the link for the book.

That Looks Interesting…

Details here.

Grundinformation Neues Testament: Eine bibelkundlich-theologische Einführung

Das Arbeitsbuch stellt die Schriften des Neuen Testaments allgemeinverständlich in der Reihenfolge des Kanons dar. Der Zugang erfolgt über eine bibelkundliche Erschließung. Exegetische Hinweise dienen der Einordnung der behandelten Schrift und der Erhellung ihrer Entstehung. Anschließend werden theologische Schwerpunkte dargestellt und Hinweise zu Wirkungsgeschichte und gegenwärtiger Bedeutung gegeben – im Kirchenjahr, in der Kunst oder auch im »säkularen« Alltag. Durch vorangestellte Thesen, eingefügte Übersichten sowie zusätzliche Informationen in einer Randspalte wird der Text didaktisch erschlossen. Mit einem Verzeichnis der wichtigsten Studienliteratur, Glossar und biblischem Personenverzeichnis.

Given that this is the fifth edition of a well known standard textbook my observations will be fairly limited.  To wit, I want to talk for a minute about why this book is in many respects more useful than the plethora of ‘introductions to the New Testament’ that are out there.

First of all, it’s quite up to date.  The bibliographic entries are fresh and thorough.  The details provided by the various authors are cutting edge New Testament scholarship.  And the writing is bold, vivid, and crisp.

Unlike many introductions, this one has not one author but many.  Experts in Pauline studies address pauline texts.  Experts in the early history of Christianity address that era.  Experts in the synoptics share their expertise with readers.  Indeed, expertise abounds in this book, and for that, in these dilettantish days, we can all be grateful.

Texts are treated not only as historical documents, but as theological as well.  Thus, this isn’t simply an intro to the New Testament, it is, as its title suggests, a volume that provides readers with all the basic information concerning the collection of documents that we call the New Testament that one needs in order to comprehend that collection.

Each section features a bibliography, naturally, as well as little sidebars which indicate the main topic of the subsection.  There are also the usual indices and a very useful glossary so that students and lay-readers who are not familiar with the jargon of scholars can find terms defined.

In a world filled with introductions to the New Testament, this one stands out both because of its thoroughness but also because of its clarity.  Multiple contributors make this volume even more useful, as readers are getting not simply one person’s viewpoint, but many.

Do read it.

Synagogues in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods: Archaeological Finds, New Methods, New Theories

The study of ancient Judaism has enjoyed a steep rise in interest and publications in recent decades, although the focus has often been on the ideas and beliefs represented in ancient Jewish texts rather than on the daily lives and the material culture of Jews/Judaeans and their communities. The nascent institution of the synagogue formed an increasingly important venue for communal gathering and daily or weekly practice. This collection of essays brings together a broad spectrum of new archaeological and textual data with various emergent theories and interpretative methods in order to address the need to understand the place of the synagogue in the daily and weekly procedures, community frameworks, and theological structures in which Judaeans, Galileans, and Jewish people in the Diaspora lived and gathered. The interdisciplinary studies will be of great significance for anyone studying ancient Jewish belief, practice, and community formation.

Review forthcoming.

Die Briefe des Petrus und des Judas: Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments

Kein anderer biblischer Text ist im Vergleich zu seiner Länge so häufig und ausführlich unter den offiziellen Predigttexten vertreten, wie der erste Petrusbrief. Trotzdem gehört der erste Petrusbrief eher zu den unbekannten Größen des Neuen Testamentes.

Kein anderer Text des NT blieb derart unverstanden wie der Judasbrief. Gleichzeitig sind nur wenige biblische Schriften auch nur annähernd so gehaltvoll, wie die wenigen Verse des Judasbriefes.

Wohl kein anderer Autor des NT wurde ähnlich verkannt, wie der des zweiten Petrusbriefes. Würde der zweite Petrusbrief unter den biblischen Texten fehlen, nur wenige würden ihn vermissen. Doch gerade der Autor des zweiten Petrusbriefes kann heute als Vorbild für einen aufgeklärten Umgang mit der Botschaft des NT fungieren.

Der neue Kommentar ist bestrebt, sowohl den drei Schriften in ihrer jeweiligen Eigenart als auch ihren Autoren Gerechtigkeit widerfahren zu lassen. Er möchte Verständnis erwecken und für die Beschäftigung mit ihnen begeistern.

The present commentary, like others in the series in which it appears (and which I have reviewed previously) is an incredibly helpful and useful resource for those who wish to ‘study to show themselves approved workers, rightly exegeting the word of truth’.  These two biblical texts, fairly unappreciated and certainly not studied in the same depth as the Gospels or Paul’s letters, here receive their due.

The author introduces the work thusly:

Drei Briefe von drei Autoren für drei Gemeinden aus unterschiedlichen Phasen der Entstehungszeit des Christentums. Miteinander verbunden sind die drei Briefe durch den zweiten Petrusbrief. Sein Autor stellt seinen Brief auf der einen Seite ausdrücklich in die Nachfolge des ersten Petrusbriefes (2Petr 3,1). Auf der anderen Seite bezieht er sich so offenkundig auf Motive des Judasbriefes, dass sich eine ausdrückliche Bezugnahme für ihn erübrigt.

Three texts stemming from the early Church which allow us to learn a great deal about the views, practices, and interpretive methodologies of that community.

Each book is introduced as to time and place and author and each exegeted according to the outline proper to each.  Excurses are provided where necessary.  And. perhaps most importantly, each concludes with a theological summary of the book’s contents.  The series title ‘the Message of the New Testament’ is also the title of the concluding segment; i.e., ‘the message of First Peter’, etc.  So, for example, regarding the message of 2 Peter, we find

I) Vorbemerkung
II) Die Autorität des Autors
III) Die Warnung vor den Extremen
IV) Warnung und Trost – Gericht und Rettung
V) Die Endzeit
VI) Das Leben vor dem Ende und zwischen den Extremen
VII) Resümee

Each pericope is translated, thoroughly explained and the volume ends with a decent bibliography, abbreviation list, and a subject index.

Finally, I think it appropriate to reproduce a snippet of the exegesis, so that potential readers have an idea of what the author is trying to do, and how he does it.  The segment is from the exposition of 1 Peter 3:1-4.  Following the text, and the commentary proper, we find this:

Die Unterordnung der Ehefrau bezeichnet der Autor als den wahren Schmuck der Frau (4). Ein solches Verhalten gilt als gottgewollt, ihm wird ewiger Bestand (4b) attestiert und es erscheint selbst als eine Art von Gottesdienst (4c). Die Anweisungen haben ihren Ort in der konkreten Situation einer im Aufbau befindlichen und angefeindeten christlichen Gemeinde. Jeder Anschein von Störung der Ordnung durch Nichtanpassung war zu vermeiden. Mit dem im ersten Petrusbrief vertretenen Ehe- und Familienbild sollten Vorurteile gegen die neue Gruppierung abgewehrt werden. Die hier propagierten Rollenbilder haben bis in die Gegenwart die Gesellschaft geprägt. Heutige christliche Leserinnen und Leser des ersten Petrusbriefes müssen sich mit den damals vertretenen und religiös aufgeladenen Idealen auseinandersetzen. Zu bedenken ist, dass die idealtypische Ehefrau zu Beginn des dritten Kapitels des ersten Petrusbriefes parallel zu dem typischen Haussklaven am Ende des zweiten Kapitels steht. Wer das eine in seiner Gottgewolltheit relativiert und nicht mehr als angemessen erachtet, wird auch das andere auf seine Zeitgemäßheit hin befragen.

I admit, that’s a rather long excerpt, but I think that when one is considering a commentary, having some idea of its contents is an extremely important bit of information to possess.

This volume, like the others in the series, is a welcome addition to the library of students, pastors, scholars, and interested lay folk who want to understand the Scriptures in as thorough and full a way as possible.  The author, Karl-Heinrich Ostmeyer, deserves our appreciation for his fantastic efforts and even more, he deserves for his work to be read.

Tolle, lege! 

Die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments: Eine kurz gefasste neutestamentliche Theologie

Diese “kurzgefasste neutestamentliche Theologie” beginnt mit der Entstehung des Kanons und ihren theologischen Aspekten und beschreibt dann die Grundlagen der Botschaft im Erbe Israels und im Wirken und in der Verkündigung Jesu. Es folgt die Darstellung der Botschaft der einzelnen Evangelien und Briefe und jeweils ein Überblick über die gemeinsame Botschaft der Evangelien, des Paulus und seiner Schule und der katholischen Briefe. Im Schlussteil wird dann das Neue Testament als Ganzes in Blick genommen.

Inhaltlich zeigt sich bei den verschiedenen Themen eine große Vielfalt, aber auch eine weitreichende Übereinstimmung in den Grundfragen von Glauben und Leben: Gott hat in Jesus Christus Heil für eine Welt geschaffen, die sonst verloren wäre. Weil dieses Heil aber in der erneuerten Gemeinschaft mit Gott besteht, werden die Menschen nach ihrer Antwort auf Gottes Zusage gefragt. Ziel ist ein Leben in der Liebe zu Gott und zum Nächsten.

Diese Botschaft passt nicht in allem zu den Erwartungen, die wir an ein Wort für unsere Zeit haben. Und doch bleibt sie höchst aktuell auch für uns.

With the plethora of NT theologies out and about these days the question will naturally arise, ‘why another’.  The aim of the present book answers that important question:

Wir werden uns in diesem Buch auf die Aufgabe beschränken, die Botschaft des Neuen Testaments zu erkunden. Aber das Alte Testament wird nie ganz aus dem Blick geraten. Seine Botschaft durchdringt die des Neuen Testaments auf vielfältige Weise. Aber im Detail werden wir nur die Schriften des Neuen Testaments behandeln.

The basis of any good NT theology is an understanding of the importance of the OT.  No authentic theology of the New Testament can operate without one eye constantly on the text of the Hebrew Bible/ LXX.

K. looks at the gospels and delineates the chief emphasis of each of their authors and then he takes on the letters of Paul, in chronological order.  First the seven authentic letters are treated and then the deutero-paulines are looked into.  There’s even an important excursus:

Exkurs: Ein Wort zur Pseudepigraphie

But K. doesn’t simply look at the books themselves; he offers instruction in the significance of those books and the genres they represent.  For example, after his treatment of the letters of Paul and the deutero-paulines and the Book of Hebrews, he presents a chapter titled

Theologie in Briefform – reflektierte Kommunikation des Evangeliums.

Once the examination of the theology of the books of the New Testament is concluded, K. turns to a thematic description of the theology of the New Testament. This segment of the book is extremely instructive.

The volume concludes with a bibliography, a list of abbreviations, and the usual indices.

Any student wishing to get an excellent overview of the contents of the New Testament will have just that here in this volume. And any student wishing to familiarize her or himself with the message of the New Testament will also find that here.

The New Testament is a collection of theological texts. K. allows them to remain discreet and individual voices and doesn’t try to flatten them or homogenize them or transform them into one overarching message. The rich fulness of the NT is on display here, and it is a glorious thing to behold.

Das Reformationsjubiläum 2017: Umstrittenes Erinnern

Als die Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland 2008 eine Lutherdekade als Vorbereitung auf das große Reformationsjubiläum des Jahres 2017 ausrief, hatte Hartmut Lehmann sich bereits viele Jahre mit den Lutherjubiläen der vergangenen Jahrhunderte beschäftigt. So lag es nahe, dass er auch die von der EKD im Hinblick auf 2017 unternommenen Aktivitäten beobachtete und sich dazu an verschiedenen Stellen äußerte. Außerdem wurde er in den Jahren zwischen 2008 und 2017 immer wieder zu Vorträgen über das bevorstehende Jubiläum gebeten.

So entstanden eine Reihe von kritischen Kommentaren zum Reformationsfest 2017, von denen hier eine Auswahl vorliegt. Die Bilanz, die Hartmut Lehmann zieht, ist durchaus kritisch. Auf der einen Seite würdigt er zwar die Restaurationsarbeiten an den originalen Luthergedenkstätten, die großen nationalen Ausstellungen, die 2017 gezeigt wurden sowie einige neuere wissenschaftliche Arbeiten zu Luther und der Reformation.

Auf der anderen Seite ist ihm aber aufgefallen, dass die EKD die nichtdeutschen protestantischen Kirchen nicht angemessen in die Vorbereitungen einbezogen hat – deshalb entstand in den Niederlanden Refo500; dass es der EKD und der Katholischen Kirche erst in der letzten Phase der Lutherdekade gelang, sich gemeinsam zu Fortschritten in der Ökumene zu bekennen; dass der Plan der EKD, die Lutherdekade als „Dekade der Freiheit“ zu feiern, auf viel Widerstand stieß; dass die EKD sich erst viel zu spät dezidiert von den fatalen Judenschriften Luthers distanzierte und dass für das große Jubiläumsfest im Jahre 2017 kein überzeugendes, über das Jahr hinaus strahlendes Motto gefunden wurde.

Die Texte dieses Bandes entstanden zwischen 2008 und 2018. Sie machen deutlich, wie umstritten die Erinnerungsbemühungen an Martin Luther aus Anlass der 500jährigen Wiederkehr des Beginns der Reformation waren.

Published this year (2021), this volume takes a look in the rear view mirror and examines the Luther 500 celebrations of 2017.  What are we to make of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation?  What do the Germans feel about their famous countryman?  Are they still fascinated with him?  Are they still wrestling with Luther’s attitude towards the Jews and the awful consequences of that attitude in their recent history?  What does the world think of him?  How has his legacy been felt in America?  Will Luther continue to be important?  Or will he now begin to fade from history, a casualty of the culture of cancellation?

Those and many others are questions raised in my mind as I read through these engaging essays.  Each essay could easily stand on its own in a journal and that is precisely where all but three of them first appeared, being here republished, but their assembly here adds weight and depth to the whole.

There are ample footnotes and the usual indices one would expect to find.  The Leseprobe at the link above provides all the bits one would need to have in order to see what the book contains and the sample allows readers to get a feel for how the whole is presented.

Lehmann has a very clear writing style and, if I may be so bold, I would add that his German prose is not so complicated that native English speakers with basic reading knowledge of German will find it overwhelmingly difficult (as we do the works of Eberhard Jüngel who, I am convinced, writes German he never intends English speakers to grasp).

If you are curious about the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, not in terms of all the hoopla, but rather in terms of its outworkings and significance for these post-celebratory days, then this is the volume you will need to read.

Tolle, lege!

Theodore Beza at 500

Theodore Beza (1519–1605) was a talented humanist, Protestant theologian, political agitator, and prominent minister of the reformed church in Geneva during the second-half of the 16th century. During his long career, Beza exercised strategic leadership in his efforts to preserve reformed Christianity in Geneva and his native France, as well as to defend the theological legacy of John Calvin throughout Europe. Beza’s diverse literary corpus of more than seventy works demonstrates that he was well-versed in classical literature, skilled in biblical exegesis, and adroit in theological controversy.

More than an ivory-tower theologian, Beza maintained contact with the leading political and religious figures of his day, including Henry IV of France and Elizabeth I of England, as well as John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, and Philipp Melanchthon. He also participated in some of the most important colloquies and controversies of his generation, such as the Colloquy of Poissy (1561), the National Synod of La Rochelle (1571), and the Colloquy of Montbéliard (1586). This roll call of eminent people and important events indicates the central role that Beza played in the explosive political and religious controversies that roiled Western Europe during this troubled century.

This edited volume explores neglected aspects of the history, theology, and literary contribution of Beza. The thirteen contributors to this volume are an accomplished group of scholars who specialize in the religious and social history of early modern Protestantism. Theodore Beza at 500 celebrates the 500th anniversary of the reformer’s birth by providing an original, insightful, and multifaceted study of one of the most important leaders of reformed Protestantism after John Calvin.

The publisher was kind enough to provide a copy for review.

As is usually the case these days, the publisher offers potential readers of the text a sample, including the table of contents, the preface, the indices, the contributors, and a sample, which in this particular instance includes the editors introduction.  All of this is available at the link above under ‘leseprobe’.  I mention it so that you can see what the volume contains before proceeding here.

Now that you have, allow me to mention the highlights of the volume:  those are the essays by Manetsch, chapter 3; McNutt, chapter 5; Balserak, chapter 7; Kim, chapter 8; Fehleison, chapter 11; and Engammare, chapter 13.  The others are well written, but these are exceptional.

The occasion for the volume, its provocateur,  the 500th anniversary of Beza’s birth, is certainly a worthy reason for such a work.  Beza, second in fame only to Calvin in Geneva, was that great reformer’s right hand man in the same way that Melanchthon was Luther’s and Oecolampadius was Zwingli’s.  Behind every great reformer is an equally influential theologian who though nearly as important never gained the notoriety that their colleagues engendered.  But that doesn’t mean that they were any less, or are any less important for historical theology and the growth of the Christian church.  Beza is certainly no exception to this rule.

The five parts of this collection reflect the major aspects of Beza’s life and work.  They investigate Beza’s place in history, his skill as textual critic and biblical interpreter (remember do that he even has the honor of having a Codex named after him- Codex Beza; an achievement none of the other reformers accomplished), Beza’s contributions to theological matters like predestination and prophecy, Beza the theological combatant (note: he’s not the sort of guy you’d like to argue with, or ever win an argument with), and finally, and really most interestingly, the memory of Beza as he was recalled in the 17th century, and as a collector of art.

It is the last point that I would like to focus on here, as it is probably the most unfamiliar aspect of Beza’s life: Theodore Beza, Collector of Paintings (Engammare’s contribution).

Included among his private collection, which he had on display in his home, were portraits of himself in various stages of his life, portraits of Calvin, Musculus, and Peter Martyr Vermigli.  The descriptions and details in connection to these portraits are amazingly interesting.  It’s always a strange sensation to discover that people you think you know have little corners of their lives that come as a total surprise.  To find Beza a lover of art and a bit of a narcissist, collecting portraits of himself, sheds more light on the man as a man than we ever discover in his letters or theological works.

This is an incredibly interesting collection of well edited and well presented essays.  Even if the Reformation isn’t ‘your thing’, you’ll enjoy this volume if only for its well written contributions and the human interest aspect unfolded herein of Theodore Beza.

Scott Manetsch and Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht are to be applauded for what they have given us.

Common Man, Society and Religion in the 16th century

Der zweisprachige Sammelband vereinigt zum Teil bahnbrechende Ergebnisse einer interdisziplinären Forschungstagung, deren Beiträge sozial-, wirtschafts-, kultur- und kirchengeschichtliche Aspekte der Frühneuzeit im Karpatenbogen aufgreifen. Basierend auf vielfach erstmals ausgewerteten Quellen bearbeiten die Beiträge aktuelle Fragestellungen und Forschungshorizonte zur Interdependenz von sozialen, ökonomischen, kulturellen und religiösen Phänomenen im Karpatenbogen der Frühen Neuzeit, in dem die Osmanen der international dominante politische Faktor wurden. Transformationsprozesse wurden angestoßen durch Bevölkerungs- und Militärbewegungen, ökonomische, politische und religiös-mentale Umwälzungen, die zwischen opportunistischer Anpassung und rebellierendem Widerstand oszillierten und entsprechende politische Maßnahmen und Gegenreaktionen hervorriefen. Dabei wird die bislang geltende Forschungsmeinung zur Toleranzgeschichte Siebenbürgens in Frage gestellt und völlig neu bewertet.

Mit Beiträgen von Ulrich A. Wien, Eike Wolgast, Adinel C. Dincă, Paula Cotoi, Alexandru Ștefan, Emőke Gálfi, Edit Szegedi, Zoltán Csepregi, Mária Lupescu Makó / Radu Lupescu, Ciprian Firea, Zsolt Simon, András Péter Szabó, Adrian Magina, Florin Nicolae Ardelean, Julia Derzsi, Enikő Rüsz-Fogarasi, Mária Pakucs-Willcocks, Martin Armgart, Robert Kolb, Maria Crăciun, Livia Magina.

More here.

Paulus und die christliche Gemeinde in Korinth: Historisch-kulturelle und theologische Aspekte

Die Beiträge im vorliegenden Band befassen sich mit dem kulturellen Kontext der christlichen Gemeinde in Korinth im 1. Jh. n. Chr. und mit der Reaktion des Paulus auf kontextuell bedingte Spannungen.

Benjamin Schliesser macht eine Fülle neuerer Untersuchungen über das antike Korinth fruchtbar für die Frage nach der soziokulturellen Situation der Gemeinde.

Harald Seubert macht plausibel, dass sich eine Reihe von polemischen Aussagen des Paulus in den Korintherbriefen auf Phänomene beziehen, welche enge Parallelen mit der Zweiten Sophistik aufweisen.

Jacob Thiessen legt dar, dass die von Paulus in 1. Korinther 14 kritisierte Art und Weise, wie die Korinther das „Zungenreden“ praktizieren, auffällige Parallelen zum Dionysoskult aufzeigt.

Christian Stettler zeigt auf, dass Paulus sich mit seiner Rede von der „Ohnmacht“ und “Torheit” Gottes gegen in Korinth gängige kulturelle Massstäbe wendet und diese mit der wahren Macht und Weisheit konterkariert.

Jörg Frey analysiert die Strategie, mit der Paulus in den Argumentationsgängen des 1. Korintherbriefs um die Einheit der korinthischen Gemeinde ringt, und leitet daraus Empfehlungen für analoge heutige Situationen in der Kirche ab.

North American folk can acquire the volume from V&R’s excellent distributor ISD.  The publisher has supplied a review copy.

Pauline studies have been ramping up for a few decades (when the fascination with the quest of the historical Jesus cooled) and they show no sign of slowing down.  The issue for historical Jesus studies, of course, was the absolute paucity of actual evidence which resulted in all manner of wild speculations eventually resulting in the insanity of the ‘Jesus Mythicists’, a cadre of persons (not scholars) who denied the very existence of Jesus himself.

The same, I fear, will be the case with Paul and pauline studies if scholars don’t come to a point where they reject all the wild speculation presently festooning the field and instead stick to the facts.

The contributions in the present volume seek to affirm and enunciate historical details about the Corinthian community.  So the essayists examine the identity of the Christians in Paul’s community, the Sophist’s philosophical school (since it played such a significant role in the Corinthian community), the cult of Dionysius and the ‘phenomenon of speaking in tongues’ in that city and among those Christians, God’s ‘powerlessness’ in the light of Auschwitz and the role of God’s powerlessness in Paul’s theology, and finally the Pauline community and the unity of the Corinthian church.  Five authors presenting five chapters on issues central to any authentic understanding of the Corinthian church and the letters they received from Paul.

To be sure, this is not a collection of essays centered on Paul the man.  These essays are centered on the city of Corinth and its inhabitants.  In particular, its Christian inhabitants.  The papers here gathered stemmed from a conference on the topic held in Basel in 2018 (on the 28th of April that year to be exact).

The forward of the collection summarizes each of the contributions, giving readers a sense of where each essay is headed and how it gets there.  Each essay is meticulously constructed with the as usual for the Germans and Swiss attention to detail and evidence for facts presented.  Readers may wish to discover speculative guesses concerning this or that notion, but such speculations are absent.  Facts, and facts alone, are followed.  Each contribution also includes a useful bibliography.

There are no indices.  There is, however, a list of contributors with a brief bio for each.  And as each chapter is thoroughly outlined in the table of contents, an index of scripture or subject really isn’t necessary at all.

Each essay is instructive, but for myself, the outstanding contribution is that of Jacob Thiessen.  He investigates the cult of Dionysius and those speaking in tongues in Corinth and his is a model of scholarly presentation.  Not only is the essay informative, it is utterly engaging.  I won’t ruin the surprise for potential readers of this volume, but Thiessen’s work is the best on the subject of ‘speaking in tongues’ in the Corinthian context I have yet seen.

My hope is that the trajectory modeled so well by this collection will be followed and adopted by continuing pauline studies.  Speculation is good for no one.  Especially for the pursuit of truth.  Facts, on the other hand, enlighten us all.

This is one enlightening book.

Martin Kählers biblische Theologie: Grundzüge seines theologischen Werkes

Die vorliegende Studie versteht sich im Anschluss an die ältere und jüngere Kählerforschung und greift die offene Frage nach einem Verständnis des Lehrganzen (Johannes Wirsching) der Theologie Martin Kählers auf. Hierfür lehnt sie sich an Gerhard Sauters Rede von der Dogmatik als einem lebendigen “Sprachkörper” an, deren eigentümlicher Charakter sich in einer “ständig wiederkehrende(n) Struktur von Wörtern und Objekten” (Zugänge zur Dogmatik) niederschlägt. Diesen Sprachkörper versucht die Studie durch die Analyse der späten Kreuzesschrift (1911) von Martin Kähler in einem ersten Arbeitsschritt zu erschließen.

Das Resultat, nämlich die Grundbegriffe Bild, Wort, Geist und Geschichte werden dann im Folgenden gleichsam als Suchbegriffe auf repräsentative Schriften des sich über fünf Jahrzehnte erstreckenden Gesamtwerkes Kählers angewendet. Dabei wird u.a. deutlich, dass die wohl bekannteste Kählersche Schrift “Der sog. historische Jesus und der geschichtliche, biblische Christus” mit ihrem starken Bezug auf den Bild- und Geschichtsbegriff nicht nur ein Einzelstück des theologischen Denkens Martin Kählers darstellt, sondern inhaltlich eingebettet ist in das Gesamte seines theologischen Denkens.

Vor dem Hintergrund der persönlich-biographischen Prägungen sowie der theologischen Prägungen verdichtet sich im Durchgang durch das theologische Werk Kählers das Bild von einer im Großen und Ganzen inhaltlich einheitlichen Theologie, die konsequent an Text und Sprache der Heiligen Schrift orientiert ist.

This monograph is a gem.   It was in its original incarnation a doctoral dissertation and has been revised for publication.

After a brief forward the work develops in six major divisions, the first of which is an introduction to the theology of MK.  The stage set, part two develops quite fully the biographical features of MK’s life and his beginnings in theological studies.  Part three, incredibly interesting, focuses the reader’s attention on the theologians who contributed to MK’s intellectual formation.  These include Roth, Tholuck, Beck, and others.

The fourth part of the work is the longest and most specific: concerning itself with various of MK’s works, essays, and lectures.  The wide ranging expertise of MK as demonstrated by the profoundly impressive array of topics he wrote concerning are here the central focus.

Part five summarizes MK’s theology and part six provides an overview of the character of MK’s theology.  Though these two chapters may seem at first glance to be about the same thing, they are quite specific in their orientation and quite precise in their development of their individual themes.

The seventh part is a triple bibliography, covering works by MK, about MK, and then wider secondary literature.

Finally, section 8, a lecture of MK’s on the notion of inspiration, brings the volume to a close.

Zimmermann is an exceptionally organized scholar and his work shows that fact quite clearly.  From the structure of the volume to the structure of individual sentences and paragraphs, everything is interlocked in a water-tight waterproof hermetically sealed way.  Were one segment left aside, the whole would be weakened.  In other words, this is the most tightly written dissertation I believe I’ve ever seen.  There is no wandering from the purpose and there are no unnecessary words.

Footnotes are present but not overabundant and appear only when absolutely necessary.

The most important aspect of this work, however, is its function of introducing the theology of MK to a new generation of researchers who may imagine that he can be relegated to the ash heap of history and scholarship.  Here MK is shown to be a vibrant contributor to the theological enterprise and one who surely deserves a reading audience today.

If this book provokes readers of it to search out Kähler’s various theological works, it will have achieved something important.

Something to Watch For

Synagogues in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods Archaeological Finds: New Methods, New Theories

The study of ancient Judaism has enjoyed a steep rise in interest and publications in recent decades, although the focus has often been on the ideas and beliefs represented in ancient Jewish texts rather than on the daily lives and the material culture of Jews/Judaeans and their communities. The nascent institution of the synagogue formed an increasingly important venue for communal gathering and daily or weekly practice. This collection of essays brings together a broad spectrum of new archaeological and textual data with various emergent theories and interpretative methods in order to address the need to understand the place of the synagogue in the daily and weekly procedures, community frameworks, and theological structures in which Judaeans, Galileans, and Jewish people in the Diaspora lived and gathered. The interdisciplinary studies will be of great significance for anyone studying ancient Jewish belief, practice, and community formation.

Volkskirche

Die Arbeit liefert eine Begriffsgeschichte des wohl wichtigsten Identitätskonzepts für den deutschen Protestantismus im 20. Jahrhundert: die Volkskirche. Mit diesem Begriff nahmen die deutschen Protestanten Bestimmungen vor in ihrem Verhältnis zum jeweiligen Staat sowie zur sie umgebenden Gesellschaft. Zugleich bietet die Begriffsgeschichte tiefe Einblicke in die binnenkirchlichen Auseinandersetzungen über das »richtige« Verständnis vom Wesen der Kirche und ihrer Aufgaben. Der Untersuchungszeitraum nimmt seinen Anfang bei der deutschen Revolution von 1918/19 die in ihren Weichenstellungen von kaum zu überschätzender Bedeutung für den weiteren Verlauf der Untersuchung ist, die ihren Endpunkt in der anhebenden Kritik an den volkskirchlichen Strukturen um das Jahr 1960 hat. Nach der Gründung der beiden deutschen Staaten 1949 kann die Arbeit verdeutlichen, wie die unterschiedlichen historischen Rahmenbedingungen der Kirchen sich gerade auch an der Geschichte des Volkskirchenbegriffs ablesen lassen können. Die in der Arbeit untersuchten semantischen Entwicklungen führen zu einem vertieften Verständnis des historischen Orts des Protestantismus in der Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert.

Benedikt Brunner’s doctoral dissertation must have been a behemoth, because the present volume is merely the first four chapters of that work, edited for publication as the present volume.  That dissertation carried treatment of the topic to the year 1991.  The present work, of course, ends at 1960.

The work is concerned with the development and expansion of the Volkskirche in Germany beginning in 1918.  Naturally there were non aligned (non-Lutheran) Churches in Germany well before 1918.  But the point of departure Brunner has chosen was that critically important year.  So, in chapter one, he describes his methodology and his sources as well as the state of research at the time of his work.  Then in chapter two the focus turns to the Volkskirche in the period of the Weimar Republic.

The third chapter was, for me, the most interesting of the volume, as it focused on a period of German history that has always been of interest to me (and many): to wit, the church in the era of National Socialism.  The harm done to the church in that period of history was immense.  Fortunately, however, the wound was not fatal.  Accordingly, the fourth chapter of this very engaging dissertation attends to the developments in the Church in the post-war era.

The volume concludes with a list of abbreviations, a list of sources, church newspapers, and of course a listing of secondary literature.  Finally, there is an index of persons.

One of the first things about this book that stands out is the breadth and depth of Brunner’s familiarity with both the issues and the materials.  Not since Klaus Scholder’s really magisterial and so far unsurpassed multi-volume ‘The Churches and the Third Reich’ has anyone come as near to Scholder’s mastery as Brunner now has.  The work is festooned with primary source quotations which bolster the line of Brunner’s argument and which serve as the foundation of that argument.

Brunner is, in fairness, it has to be said, an extraordinary historian.  And the volume he produced here is unimaginably engaging.  I wish the entire dissertation had been published.  Perhaps we can look forward to a time when the remainder of that volume too sees the light of day in a follow-up companion to the present work.

Concerning problems with the book, I would simply point out that though Barth features prominently, Theophil Wurm receives lesser attention.   It is important to note that Wurm, though not as ‘loud’ as Barth, was an extremely influential voice in the Confessing Church and that, surely, he is deserving of wider recognition.  His wisely exhibited personal opposition to the Nazi program in relation to the Church was one of the reasons that the Confessing Church was able to survive.

In sum, minor voices (in terms of the attention they receive and not in relation to the influence they had) should be, in scholarship, more and more heard.  We know enough about Barth.  Let’s hear about other influential people.

Still, in fairness to Brunner, his dissertation and its contents are thoroughly within his own control.  And the fact that he chose to emphasize what he did is perfectly within his rights as a scholar and a researcher.  My view is that the work could have been ‘deepened’ by a hearing of minor voices, not that it would be ‘improved upon’ by them.

I think this work deserves a wide hearing.  It’s my hope that you will be encouraged to read it for yourselves.  I guarantee, if you do, you will learn a great deal from it.

A Great and Remarkable Analogy: The Onto-Typology of Jonathan Edwards

Edwards proposed that natural types in all of creation served as a communication or language of God, pointing to the antitypes of divine truths. These types are shown to exist all the way down to the cellular and molecular levels of nature. We explore how natural types are not mere poetical assignments of Christian themes onto nature. Rather, these types are ontologically real, in that they eternally existed in the mind of God with intent to communicate divine things to the creature. Thus, we call these natural types onto-types to reflect their ontological significance theologically and spiritually. In Edwards’ scheme, this was an important part of God’s end in creating. Emerging out of Edwards’ comprehensive metaphysics of creation is a portrayal of God’s commitment to emanate knowledge of the divine Self into the creation.

God’s Being is not emanated, resulting in a creation, rather the knowledge and glory of God are emanated into the creation serving to communicate messages of the divine to the creature out of infinite love and faithfulness. Edwards expounded a two-fold method where revelation of this language of nature can be experienced by direct engagement with the beauty in nature and in the study of science and its mechanisms. God’s action in revealing takes the form of willing the creation into being, communicating analogically through onto-types in the physical world, and revealing such knowledge to the creature. In this way, all of nature is the triune God acting: the Father willing into being, Christ communicating, and the Spirit revealing. God’s Trinitarian beauty and magnificent glory are not merely displayed by what has been made, but is intimately shared and delighted in. This, in Edwards’ view, is God’s ultimate end in creating.

Scholars of American theology and Edwards in particular will find the work engaging.

(In)Visibility: Reflections upon Visibility and Transcendence in Theology, Philosophy and the Arts

The content of the book reconsiders the relation between visibility and transcendence. The focus is especially on the contribution to this issue from the theological tradition in protestant Europe between the 16th and the 21st Centuries. In the book a thematically broad field is covered embracing more than five centuries and a plurality of methods drawn from theology, philosophy, and the history and theory of art. The book is divided into five sub-themes: In the first and more fundamental part, ‘The phenomenology of in-visibility’, questions underlying the other four themes are sought defined or narrowed down.

Here the modes of appearing/revealing or hiding of phenomena are reflected. In the second section of the book dealing with ‘Language as a mode of revealing and hiding’ the specific role of verbal expressions understood in a very broad sense is at the core: What is the fundamental understanding and use of language, when speaking of the ineffable? The third section about ‘Human existence between visibility and invisibility’ focuses on theological anthropology: its features and norms.

The ambiguity of anthropological categories such as faith, rationality, imagination, memory and emotion play a prominent role in this context. The fourth section concerning ‘The manifestation of a ‘beyond’ in the arts’ investigates transcendence in the arts. What are the theological discourses behind the religious uses of the different artistic media (i.e. images, music, liturgical inventory, architecture)? Finally in the fifth section concerning ‘Visible community and invisible transcendence’ one finds contributions working with the idea of ‘vicarious representation’.

First off, please note that the link above takes you to a ‘sample’ (the Leseprobe tab) which has a ‘flip book’ with the volume’s front matter.  The work is primarily in English, so have no fear of stumbling into too many German and at times bewildering words.

The work is subdivided into Six major divisions (though these are not numbered) and each division offers readers explorations into the volume’s topics from the perspectives indicated by the division in which it sits.

Reading the front matter will give potential readers of this volume ample indication if it is a work which they would find engaging.  Take note, though, that those of a ‘philosophical’ bent (and there are plenty of that sort afoot these days) will find the book more useful than those with more historical interests.

To be fair, though, there are essays herein which will be instructive for historical theology.  For instance, George Pattison’s Language and the Revelation of Silence. Reflections on Mystical Theology is extremely interesting as is Antti Raunio’s Inner and Outer Man in Luther’s Thought.  Also very much worth perusing is Anna Vind’s Hoc est, tua iusticia non est visibilis, non est sensibilis. Glaube und christliches Leben bei Luther – mit einem kurzen Ausblick auf die lutherische Tradition in Dänemark.  I like big titles, and I cannot lie… to paraphrase Sir Mixalot.  And the contents of the essay match the largeness of its titling.

Loving Mozart as I do, I was intrigued what would be found in Nils Holger Petersen’s The Notion of an Imaginary Space in Music: Interpreting Mozart’s Requiem in Liturgical, Denominational, and Secular Contexts.  I was not in any way disappointed.

Also very useful are Harald Hegstad’s Invisible Church? An Ecclesiological Idea Reconsidered and  Karina Juhl Kande’s Die unsichtbare Kirche. Eine Hauptspur in der Ekklesiologie Dietrich Bonhoeffers?

In the last mentioned essay we find this insightful notice:

Der Glaube an das Wort Gottes ist der Schlüssel zur Einheit. Was optisch sichtbar in Erscheinung tritt, ist tatsächlich die wesentliche Kirche, so wie sie sich in der Geschichte verkörpert. Aber um wissen zu können, dass dem so ist, bedarf es des Glaubens. Ohne Glauben ist das, was wir erblicken – Kirchengebäude, Gemeinde, Rituale – nichts anderes als ein Gemenge soziologischer und kultureller Gebilde und Größen; eine religiöse Gemeinschaft, die sich von verschiedenen wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen beschreiben lässt.

On the whole, the volume, save for the first few essays and their completely philosophically oriented speculations, this work provides enough scope and usefulness that historical theologians on the whole and philosophical theologians (bless their hearts) will be able to make good use of it.

It’s well worth a read.

Kurze Grammatik des Biblischen Hebräisch

Diese kurze Grammatik führt systematisch in die Schrift- und Lautlehre sowie die Formen- und Satzlehre des Biblischen Hebräisch ein. Zahlreiche Schautafeln und Paradigmen erschließen die hebräische Sprache des Alten Testaments übersichtlich. Merksätze helfen, auch das scheinbar Komplizierte zu verstehen und zu behalten. Die Grammatik will als Referenzgrammatik und Nachschlagewerk beim Hebräischstudium an Schule oder Hochschule dienen, ebenso bei der Repetition und Erarbeitung hebräischer Texte.

A review copy appeared in the mail last month. 

The preface and the table of contents are available at the link above under ‘Leseprobe’.  This being the 5th edition of this basic grammar, many may already be familiar with it.  For those who have not worked with earlier editions, the volume is a simple, direct, straightforward, unencumbered by non-necessities examination of the basics of the Hebrew language.

Each section is just a few pages long.  So, for instance, the discussion concerning the alphabet covers just 2 pages.  Vocalization is covered in one page.  Accents are described in one page and ketib and qere are handled in 1 page.

Once the basics are addressed in part one, part two works through thinks like the article, prepositions, negation, and like matters.

The third part of the book looks at the verbal system and the fourth part looks at the basics of the sentence.

This is a really fantastic book.  Anyone wishing to learn the Hebrew language would benefit greatly from making use of this little volume.  It is not as extensive as Weingreen and it certainly doesn’t approach matters as Seow does.  Nor, of course, is it as thorough as Gesenius, it works.  It teaches the basics.  It informs without overwhelming.

And therein lies its greatest strength.  Having taught Hebrew and Greek for a number of years now I have to say that many students are simply overwhelmed by the amount of details they are asked to learn in their first two semesters of language studies.  To be sure, all those things must be learned.  But a far better approach is, in my mind, to do the basics the first year and then go into more detail the second.  Elementary grammar should be just that, elementary.  Trying to do too much causes students to despair.

This volume, on the other hand, does not overwhelm.  It is the perfect size, like Goldilocks porridge; it is neither too cold nor too hot.  It is just right.

I heartily recommend it.

Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? Zwölf Fragen zum Gottesbild des Alten Testaments

This is fascinating.  The issue of Theodicy has been an interest of mine for a very long time, and this volume fits the bill perfectly in addressing it.

Das Buch ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen – Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und einem Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Es plädiert für ein umfassendes Reden von Gott jenseits der falschen Alternative »Lieber Gott« – »Böser Gott«. Ein Gott, der straft und tötet – und in dessen Namen Menschen strafen und töten? Ist das Alte Testament, das von einem solchen Gott spricht, nicht überholt und deswegen auch verzichtbar?

Während sich die einen ein Christentum ohne Altes Testament nicht vorstellen können, möchten die anderen es am liebsten aus der christlichen Bibel verbannen – vielleicht bis auf den Psalter, der zusammen mit dem Neuen Testament in vielen Hotelzimmern als Nachttischlektüre bereitliegt, um seinen Lesern innere Einkehr zu ermöglichen. Gerade die Psalmen sind aber ein Sammelbecken für schwierige Gottesbilder. Dieses Buch versucht anhand von zwölf besonders brisanten Fragen Antworten darauf zu geben, ob das Alte Testament für die Artikulation des christlichen Glaubens unentbehrlich oder nicht eher verzichtbar ist.

Es ist so angelegt, dass das Thema in fünf Themenkreisen

– Gericht und Vergeltung, Willkür und Gewalt, Zorn und Rache, Leiden und Sünde, Opfer und Sühne – sowie einem Einleitungs- und Schlusskapitel entfaltet wird. Im Blick auf die Frage des Eingangskapitels

– Ein anderer, »böser« Gott? – geht der Autor von einem klaren Nein aus: Der Gott des Alten Testaments ist kein anderer als der des Neuen Testaments! Und schon gar nicht spricht das Neue Testament vom »lieben« und das Alte Testament vom »bösen Gott«. Deshalb plädiert das Schlusskapitel

– Ein Gott, der straft und tötet? – für ein umfassenderes Reden von Gott, das jenseits des schlichten Duals »Lieber Gott« versus »Böser Gott« liegt. Jedoch scheint solche Einsicht gerade auch unter TheologInnen nicht mehr selbstverständlich zu sein. Diese Unselbstverständlichkeit ist der Anlass für das vorliegende Buch.

The book’s contents and front matter can be seen at the link above.  Do take a look before proceeding.  The author, no unknown in the realm of biblical studies, offers here to interested readers a book that …

… versucht auf die gestellten Fragen so zu antworten, dass die Schwierigkeiten ernst genommen werden, die weite Teile der Öffentlichkeit mit dem Alten Testament haben. Es bleibt aber nicht bei der Benennung dieser Schwierigkeiten stehen. Vielmehr wird der Versuch gemacht, anhand von zwölf besonders brisanten Fragen Antworten darauf zu geben, ob das Alte Testament für die Artikulation des christlichen Glaubens unentbehrlich oder nicht eher verzichtbar ist. Wie wir sehen werden, entscheiden nicht selten Fragen der Übersetzung über die angebliche Alltagstauglichkeit von schwierigen Gottesbildern.

There are no more problematic issues in the entire realm of theology than the questions raised by theodicy.  How can a good God allow what he allows or even cause what he causes?  How?  The Bible is filled with the questions which all people of faith have wondered about in their lifetime at some point or another, even if they never give voice to them.

It is not a new book, however.  It appeared in 2013 in its first edition.  The second edition appeared just a year later.  And now it has been republished again in 2018, in its third edition.  If you have read the first or second edition please be advised that the current volume has been corrected in terms of both minor errors and bibliographic material.

If you are among the many who did not read either the first or the second edition, I am very happy to introduce you to it in its new incarnation and I urge you in the strongest possible terms to give it a look.  Especially in an era when the world is a ‘mess’ and people are wondering why God has permitted it so to be.

The volume at hand is not only useful to we moderns in our troubled times.  It is that precisely because it is also an extraordinarily valuable investigation into texts of the Hebrew Bible that have raised eyebrows for centuries.

Is the God of the Old Testament an evil God?  Is God just?  Is God vengeful?  Is God powerful?   Is God horrible?  Is God satisfied by sacrifices?  These questions, again, not always spoken aloud but frequently in the minds of many thoughtful readers of the Bible, are asked and answered.

The introduction begins with this quotation of Bonhoeffer, and it sets the tone for the chapter in a wonderful way:

Man kann und darf das letzte Wort nicht vor dem vorletzten sprechen. Wir leben im Vorletzten und glauben das Letzte, ist es nicht so? … Warum wird im Alten Testament kräftig und oft zur Ehre Gottes gelogen, totgeschlagen, betrogen, geraubt, die Ehe geschieden, sogar gehurt, gezweifelt und gelästert und geflucht, während es im Neuen Testament dies alles nicht gibt? Religiöse ›Vorstufe‹? Das ist eine sehr naive Auskunft; es ist ja ein und derselbe Gott.

Each chapter begins with a quotation from a gifted mind.  And each quotation leads the reader into the conversation which the author wishes to engage in.  A conversation about God, good, and evil.

At the end of the volume there’s a collection of texts which readers are invited to contemplate:

Der Anhang enthält 30 Texte, die an verschiedenen Stellen des Buchs herangezogen oder in Ausschnitten zitiert werden. Auf sie wird jeweils mit dem Vermerk »s. Textanhang« hingewiesen. Auf diese Weise ist es möglich, sie im Zusammenhang nachzulesen.

The chapters are filled with citations from scripture as well as from theologians spanning the history of Christianity and Judaism and artistic illustrations when appropriate and helpful.  The textual analysis is intricate at times but this merely adds to the usefulness of the presentation.  This is a reader oriented thoughtful volume.  And, again, if you missed it when it came out 7 years ago, now is certainly the time to right that wrong.

This Week’s Meeter Center Conversation Features an Author Whose Book I’ve Reviewed

You can read my review of this volume here. It’s great to hear the author talk about the book herself.

Emder Synode 1571

Eine ausführliche Einführung informiert über Vorgeschichte, Verlauf und Wirkungen dieser Zusammenkunft niederländischer Flüchtlingsgemeinden und benennt die wichtigsten dort angesprochenen Themen. Damals erwies sich die Hafenstadt Emden als günstig gelegener Versammlungsort. Die dort gefassten Beschlüsse waren eine Antwort auf die herausfordernde Frage, wie sich die Gemeinden organisieren und zur gegenseitigen Unterstützung miteinander in Verbindung stehen konnten. Das Prinzip der synodalen Verbundenheit, ohne dass eine Gemeinde über die andere herrscht, und die Ausbildung der Pastoren haben fortan weit über die Flüchtlingsgemeinden hinaus die evangelischen Kirchen geprägt. Wo immer es in der Moderne auch außerhalb der Kirchen um Partizipation und Subsidiarität ging, zeigt sich die Emder Synode als eine wichtige Impulsgeberin.

Das Buch richtet sich an Studierende, Lehrende, Pastores, Gemeinde- und Kirchenleitende, Mitglieder von Presbyterien und Synoden sowie an historisch und politisch Interessierte.

Von Matthias Freudenberg und Aleida Siller.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Synod of Emden, there’s a good bit of historical detail in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.

The relevant point at present is that

… the first general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church was held at Emden on Oct 4-13, 1571. The president was Gaspar van der Heyden, preacher at Frankenthal; the vice-president, Jean Tan, pastor of the Walloon congregation at Heidelberg; and the secretary, Joannes Polyander, pastor of the Walloon congregation at Emden. The attendance was twenty-nine, five of whom were elders. This synod laid the foundations of the Dutch Reformed Church. The delegates were fully aware that they had been called to prepare binding regulations, and that they were the authorized representatives of their church. Besides adopting three of the Wesel articles (the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first of the Emden articles), the synod utilized the French church order of 1559, the two often corresponding word for word. On the other hand, the Emden acts can not be considered a mere amplification of the French church order. The acts of this synod are distinctly Calvinistic, and the organization which they propose is presbyterial and synodal. The sole bond of union between churches is consensus in doctrine; fellowship is desired with the churches of other lands, provided they are Reformed in doctrine. The standards adopted were the Belgic Confession and the French; the Geneva Catechism was to be used in French congregations, and the Heidelberg Catechism in the Dutch, though churches employing any other corresponding catechism might retain it. The administration was to be conducted by consistories, classes, synods, and national synods. Of these, only the consistories were to be permanent, the members of the other bodies being chosen for each assembly. Each church or congregation was to have a consistory, consisting of preachers, elders, and deacons, and the consistory was to meet at least weekly. Every three or six months a classis ” of several neighboring churches ” was to meet; and synods were to be held annually of the congregations in Germany and East Frisia, of the English congregations, and of the Dutch congregations. About every two years a national synod ” of all the Belgic churches together ” was to be held. Each congregation, while independent, formed part of an organic whole, being subject successively to the classis, the synod, and the general synod, in each of which it was represented by delegates chosen either directly or indirectly. The synod arranged for classes in the various countries and prepared a number of regulations governing the internal administration of the Reformed congregations, as on the calling of pastors, the choice of elders and deacons, and the length of their terms, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, marriage, discipline, and the like.

Further information can be found in the extremely useful entry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, ‘Emden, Synod of’ by James Tracy

Historically, then, the Synod of Emden was a watershed moment in the Reformation in the Low Countries.  As such, its importance can’t be overstated.  The present volume edited by Freudenberg and Siller dives into the historical background of the Synod and offers readers a fresh translation of the Acts of the Synod. Also provided are beautiful full color plates of some of the original texts from Emden.

This is a wonderfully useful fully engaging very informative less than 100 page tome. If the history of the Reformation is one of your interests, and in particular the Reformation in the Netherlands, this is a book you should read.

I highly recommend it.