Friday, June 27, 2014

Pulpit Review: Gerhard


Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Edited by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and Joshua J. Hayes. On Creation and Predestination (Theological Commonplaces: XIII-XI). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 390 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (LHP)

Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Elmer M. Hohle. Edited by Heidi D. Sias. Postille: Sunday and Main Festival Gospels, Parts III and IV. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2012. 388 Pages. Paper. $19.95. (P)

After too long of a wait for English-reading Lutherans, Johann Gerhard is finally getting his due. Two recent Gerhard releases are before us in this review.

The cover subtitle mentions creation and predestination. The title page goes into much more detail of what is in store for a reader of Theological Commonplaces VIII-XI:

In this volume, Gerhard addresses creation, anthropology, angels, divine providence, eternal election, and the image of God. 


The Theological Commonplaces series is the first-ever English translation of Johann Gerhard's monumental Loci Theologici. Gerhard was the premier Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century. Combining his profound understanding of evangelical Lutheran theology with a broad interest in ethics and culture, he produced significant works on biblical, doctrinal, pastoral, and devotional theology. Gerhard interacts with the writings of the church fathers, Luther and his contemporaries, and the Catholic and Calvinist theologians of his day. His 17-volume Loci is regarded as the standard compendium of Lutheran orthodoxy, with topics ranging from the proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture to eschatology.

Useful for research on Lutheran doctrine, Gerhard's accessible style makes this a must-have on the bookshelf of pastors and professional church workers.

Each embossed hardback volume includes

• the translation of Gerhard's Loci (originally published from 1610 to 1625)
• a glossary of key theological, rhetorical, and philosophical terms
• a name index
• a Scripture index
• a carefully researched works cited list that presents guidance for deciphering the numerous abbreviations of the other titles from which Gerhard quotes.


Call 1-800-325-3040 or become a subscriber to the series and save 30% off the retail price!

Commonplace VIII: On Creation and Angels details God's initial creation and shares an amazing wealth of information about the messengers of God, His holy angels (and our old evil foe). 

Commonplace XI: On the Image of God in Man before the Fall returns to the topic of God's creation by zeroing in on humanity and a fuller definition of imago Dei than is currently widely-known in the LCMS Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism.

Commonplace IX: On Providence gives a Lutheran definition to the term (Chapter I), details God's foreknowledge (Ch. III), and successfully defends the thesis and Biblical truth that God is not the cause of sin (Ch. X). 

Commonplace X: On Election and Reprobation builds on the necessary foundation of Commonplace IX and will help 21st Century Lutherans discuss the topic with Calvinists winsomely and Biblically, well-equipped for such a difficult task. I wish I would have had this volume as a tool for pastoral care two years ago.

I rejoice in the restoration of our Lutheran doctrinal heritage! 

If only Gerhard were more widely known and studied at the time of the Predestinarian controversy (xv)!

Thank you, CPH, for regularly releasing volumes of this important set.

I am also thankful for Elmer M. Hohle's translations of Gerhard's sermons!

I began reading Gerhard's sermons (Volume I) in 2003 thanks to the publication of Rev. Dr. Hohle's previous translation work. Page ix of that volume's Foreword explained that there were more sermons to come from the 1613 collection. 

My patience was rewarded in 2007 with the publication of Volume 2, Sermons for the Trinity season, translated by Dr. O Marc Tangner, and released by Repristination Press.

Dr. Hohle is again the translator of Parts II and IV. Lutheran Legacy brings them to us in this (c) 2012 paperback. It is so good it deserves a hardcover!

In Exegesis and Explanation of Sunday and Main Festival Gospels, Dr. Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) continues his Postille works, delving into the Gospel texts of the Apostles and other Festival Days (Vol. III) as well as passages for Midweek Sermons (Vol. IV).

A translation by Dr. Elmer Hohle faithfully transmits Gerhard's insightful and engaging 17th century text. His Law and Gospel themed writing is both convicting and comforting as he points the reader to Christ, open very powerfully. Gerhard says, "Since Christ thus is the true Way, He will not lead us upon false ways. Since He is the Truth, He will not deceive us. Because He is the Life, He will not leave us in death. His Word is the Truth—we should believe it. His holy life is the true Way—we should walk upon it. Thus we shall find eternal life in Him." (p. 61)

Gerhard examines a variety of theological topics in these volumes, including: the Office of the Ministry, Christ and the Church (Bridegroom and Bride), marriage, the Christian life, angels, doubt, suffering, the burden of sin, death, hell, repentance, the joy of eternal life, the Last Day, and heaven.

Gerhard encourages those in the faith to continually study and receive God's gifts when he says, "Just strengthen your faith by hearing God's Word, and through the use of the Sacraments. Longingly sigh for God, He wants to complete the work begun and protect you unto everlasting life, where then shall be perfect assurance that we shall be with the Lord at all times." (p. 258) May this volume build up your faith through Gerhard's examination of God's Word.


  • Volume 3: Apostle and Other Festival Days
  • On the Day of St. Andrew (30 November) Matt 4:18–22
  • On the Day of St. Thomas (21 December) John 20:24–29
  • On the Day of The Conversion of St. Paul (25 January) John 19:27-30
  • On the Day of The Purification of Mary (2 February) Luke 2:22-32
  • On the Day of St. Matthew (24 [25] February) Matt 11:25–30
  • On the Day of Sts. Philip and James (1 May) John 14:1–14
  • On the Day of St. John the Baptizer (24 June) Luke 1:57–80
  • On the Day of Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June) Matt 16:13–20
  • On the Day of Mary's Visitation (2 July) Luke 1:39–56
  • On the Day of Mary Magdalene (22 July) Luke 7:36–50
  • On the Day of St. James (25 July) Matt 20:20–23
  • On the Day of St. Bartholomew (24 August) Luke 22:24–30
  • On the Day of St. Matthew (21 September) Matt 9:9–13
  • On the Day of St. Michael (29 September) Matt 18:1–11
  • On the Day of Sts. Simon and Jude (28 October) John 15:17–25

Volume 4: Appendage of Passages for Midweek Sermons

  • The First Sermon (Job 1:13–22)
  • The Second Sermon (Isa 57:1–2)
  • The Third Sermon (Ps 42:1–2)
  • The Fourth Sermon (Ps 68:19–20)
  • The Fifth Sermon (Ps 73:25–26)
  • The Sixth Sermon (Matt 3:1–2)
  • The Seventh Sermon (Matt 5:11–12)
  • The Eighth Sermon (Matt 7:13–14)
  • The Ninth Sermon (Matt 8:20)
  • The Tenth Sermon (Matt 13:40–42)
  • The Eleventh Sermon (Matt 16:24)
  • The Twelfth Sermon (John 8:12)
  • The Thirteenth Sermon (John 10:27–30)
  • The Fourteenth Sermon (Eph 5:32)
  • The Fifteenth Sermon (Phil 1:21)
  • The Sixteenth Sermon (2 Pet 3:10–11)
  • The Seventeenth Sermon (1 John 1:7b)
  • The Eighteenth Sermon (1 John 4:16b)
  • The Nineteenth Sermon (Heb 9:27–28 )
  • The Twentieth Sermon (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26–28; 3:5, 12, 21)
  • The Twenty-first Sermon (Rev 7:13–17)
  • The Twenty-second Sermon (Gen 24:2, 7)
  • The Twenty-third Sermon (Gen 35:16–20)
  • The Twenty-fourth Sermon (Ps 126:5–6)
  • The Twenty-fifth Sermon (Hos 2:19–20)
  • The Twenty-sixth Sermon (Sir 26:22–23)
  • The Twenty-seventh Sermon (John 11:25–26)
  • The Twenty-eighth Sermon (Rom 8:31–34)
  • The Twenty-ninth Sermon (2 Cor 5:1–10)

Allow me to note some of the most fascinating contents:

  • Annunciation is also titled "Conception of Christ" (Contents, refers readers to Volume I, 262)
  • A notable sermon "On the Day of St. Michael" on Matthew 18:1-11 (131)
  • The explanation of Part Four: "Appendage of beautiful and selected passages from the Old and New Testament that otherwise and usually were presented and explained in mid-week sermons, especially directed towards the purpose that we may get to know God's love and Christ's merits, and may blessedly receive them in the inward man" (sub-title page)
  • The Twenty-sixth Sermon, notable for being a Lutheran sermon on Sirach 26:22-23 already, gives the origin of Christian wedding sermons: "Finally, such wedding sermons were sanctified by God's Church. For it cannot be denied that ca. 170 AD this praiseworthy practice was introduced into the Christian Church, that the bridal couple was led to church, upon previous instruction from God's Word. They then in the presence of God, with the holy angels and attending Christians as witnesses, were married with the nuptial blessing" (352).

Did you know that last tidbit? I didn't. That paragraph alone should make it worth your purchase (and sharing in future premarital counseling and wedding sermons).

Did Rev. Dr. Hohle also translate part 2? I would be interested in seeing his translation someday.

Prioritize both of these volumes on your wish list and in your continuing ed budget!

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.

View article...