Friday, June 27, 2014

LHP Review: Luther


Luther, Martin. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels. Church Postil I (Luther's Works 75). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 460 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (LHP)

Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and arranged by Paul Strawn. What is Marriage, Really? From Two Marriage Sermons On Hebrews 13:4 and Ephesians 5:22-33. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2013. 116 Pages. Paper. $.6.00. (LHP)

Springer, Carl P. E. Luther's Aesop. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2011. 249 Pages. Paper with flaps. $39.95. (LHP)

Countdown Commemorative Medallions to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (Dr. Martin Luther; Luther Caught in a Lightning Storm; Luther Becomes a Monk; Luther Travels to Rome; Luther Receives Doctor of Theology Degree; Luther's Tower Experience). Delhi, NY; American Lutheran Publicity Bureau 2011-2013, projected through 2017. Prices vary from $1 to $18 each. (LHPN)

Walther. Gerhard. Luther. Each of our reviews posted today feature at least one sermon collection by these giants and Fathers of our Lutheran tradition. 

This review focuses on recent releases with content by Luther himself.

According to the original CPH prospectus for the addition of volumes 56-75 to the American Edition of Luther's Works, there were to be twenty volumes.

I rejoice to report that there are now twenty-eight planned volumes (!

Church Postil I is numbered as Volume 75. With the addition of eight more volumes, we can surmise (and pray) that more than the previously-announced three volumes will feature Luther sermons. The back flap of the dust cover confirms this: "Volumes 75-79 of the American Edition of Luther's Works, for the first time in 300 years, provide readers with Luther's mature, final version of the Church Postil, along with footnotes identifying the great reformer's own changes." Pray with me for patience as we await more news. Will the House Postil be included?

From the beginning of his work on the postils, Luther had stated that they were supposed to serve common pastors and people, and thus were to be the great devotional book of the Reformation.

Martin Luther's collected sermons for the church year were originally published in two series: the Church Postil and the House Postil. These were among his most popular works. Aside from his catechisms, they did more to teach people the Reformation than any other book. Volume 75 gives the sermons on the Epistle and Gospel readings from Advent through Christmastide in fresh, clear English.

Benefits of Luther's Works, American Edition, vol. 75 (Church Postil I)

1. Accurate and clear translation. (An early 20th-century version of these sermons was inaccurate and stilted.)
2. Presents the Church Postil as the mature Luther wanted it to be:

-Includes Luther's often-extensive revisions to his own work, with significant variant readings from earlier editions translated in the footnotes.

-Includes the version of the summer sermons that Luther approved (Cruciger's edition, not Roth's edition).

-Epistles and Gospels are interspersed as they were originally printed, showing the progression of Luther's teaching through the course of the church year.

(The early 20th-century Lenker version followed the revisionist 1700 edition of Philipp Jakob Spener, not Luther's mature, final edition of 1540 and 1544.)

3. Includes the careful, explanatory introductions and footnotes that have become a hallmark of Luther's Works: American Edition.

4. Includes cross-references and a table showing where Luther's sermons can be found in the German originals.

5. Fully indexed.

Edited by Benjamin T.G. Mayes and James L. Langebartels.

Read Luther's sermons (alongside those of Gerhard and Walther) to better preach to your own people, especially if you are using the One Year Lectionary.

It was interesting to read how Gerhard (xxv) discouraged preachers from imitating Luther's wandering preaching style. My wife would agree. :)

What should be sought and expected in the Gospels? Read Luther's answer (7ff).

For Luther on the church as "mouth house," see 11 n. 9, 39 n. 36, and 51 n. 72. Don't miss this!

Note Luther's sermon text for St. John's Day: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 15:1-6.

We're returning to Luther's form of the postil (xxviii). Blame Spener's 1700 edition for the poor editions ever since(back flap). Watch footnotes for significant variants (xxx, passim). Compare these translations to Lenker at your leisure (xxxii).

Yes, this edition is far better than the seven-volume set recently reprinted by Baker. Save your money. Buy this and not that one. 

Stock up on copies this Lutheran Press edition of Luther From Two Marriage Sermons On Hebrews 13:4 and Ephesians 5:22-33 to catechize couples preparing for Holy Matrimony and to defend Biblical marriage.

Understand Holy Matrimony better at the feet of Dr. Luther as he repeats with clarity what the Scriptures teach regarding it.

What is marriage? A common understanding is that it is a legally binding arrangement between two individuals in which they are granted certain legal rights and privileges by society. But is that all marriage is? Isn't there something more to it that a simple legal arrangement? Martin Luther answers this question with a resounding "Yes!" and in the process, lays out what marriage truly is, how it is created, and how it is joyously maintained. This is a must ready for anyone contemplating marriage, or for those already married.


Formatted into 17 simple chapters along with study questions, this book is perfect for personal devotion or Bible study.

Indeed. Sonntag and Strawn give the Church a timely, accessible, and substantive catechetical tool. 

Without the Word, marriage disintegrates.

Buy it. Use it. Give it away. Buy more. Do so to encourage Lutheran Press to produce more titles like this.

Springer's Luther's Aesop is a pleasant and scholarly surprise from Truman State University Press.

While not yet the children's' edition of Luther's Aesop that Lutheran parents would read in illustrated form to their children as catechetical bedtime stories, this is the necessary and scholarly groundwork for such a set of future publications.

Reformer of the church, biblical theologian, and German translator of the Bible Martin Luther had the highest respect for stories attributed to the ancient Greek author Aesop. He assigned them a status second only to the Bible and regarded them as wiser than "the harmful opinions of all the philosophers." Throughout his life, Luther told and retold Aesop's fables and strongly supported their continued use in Lutheran schools.


In this volume, Carl Springer builds on the textual foundation other scholars have laid and provides the first book in English to seriously consider Luther's fascination with Aesop's fables. He looks at which fables Luther knew, how he understood and used them, and why he valued them. Springer provides a variety of cultural contexts to help scholars and general readers gain a deeper understanding of Luther's appreciation of Aesop.

Classical educators should take note of this book (and practice their German and Latin on the Coburg fables).

Finally, we highlight a celebratory project of our friends at ALPB:


Between 2011 and 2017 - the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation - give the children, their families and all members of your congregation a series of 9 medallions in gold anodized aluminum to collect to create excitement in learning about Luther and the Reformation. For adults interested in collecting the series and numismatic and historic collectors, medals will also be available in antique bronze and .999 silver.

Martin Luther Medals

Images of the finished gold anodized version of medals number 1, 3 and 5, and the antique bronze version of medals number 2 and 4. The obverse of each medal is similar, focusing on Luther (either as a monk or doctor of the church) looking left at an image suggesting the event depicted on the reverse side - here the lightning storm (#1), the door to the Erfurt Monastery where Luther became a monk (#2), the city of Rome (#3). the tower of the Castle Church in Wittenberg where he received his doctor's degree (#4) and Luther's tower study in the Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg (#5). Actual size of medals is 1 1/2 inches. Click on the image above for a larger version, then click again to magnify.


Luther in Lightning Storm (1505) - Available Now
Luther Ordained a Priest (1507) - Available Now
Luther Travels to Rome (1510 -1511) - Available Now
Luther Receives Dr. of Theology Degree (1512) - Available Now
Luther's "Tower Experience" (1513) - available in 2013
Frederick the Wise Blocks Tetzel from Saxony (1514) - available in 2014
600th Anniversary of Jan Hus's martyrdom (1415) - available in 2015)
Charles V becomes King of Spain (1516) - available in 2016
Luther Posts His 95 Theses (1517) - available in 2017


Collector's Board

Martin Luther Medals
(click here for larger image)

A collector's medal holder is now also available. It can be ordered below for $5.50 plus $2 shipping and handling.

With orders for 25 or more gold anodized aluminum medals two gifts will be provided: 1 - Reformation Countdown Hymn, "Hammer Blows Heard Round the World" by Scott Blazek and Reagan Mullin, with each stanza focusing on the theme of one of the medals (with permission to copy in church bulletins) and 2 - children's sermon ideas by Fred Schumacher for use at distribution of medals.

We were provided with the pictured collector's board with the first six medals. It will be a teaching tool at my classical Lutheran school this October. Now, I need to order some of the coins for the students to take home!

I've said it before and write it again: read more Luther for the sake of the Gospel and your hearers in Jesus' Name!


The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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