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T H E T Y N D A L E H O U S E B U L L E T I N

Issued twice yearly by the Tyndale Fellowship for Biblical Research,

Tyndale House, Selwyn Gardens, Cambridge.

Price to non-members : Is. 3d. per copy, post free.




No.3 SUMMER, 1957
Chronicle: RECENT LUTHER STUDIES

A Skevington Wood
'It is probably true to say that during the past half century more hours

of historical research and theological analysis have been devoted to Martin Luther

than any other figure in the history of Christianity except its Founder.' Such

is the measured statement of Professor E. Harris Harbison of Princeton. It is

by no means an exaggeration. In view, therefore, of the vast mass of material

at our disposal, we can do no more in this brief survey than touch and glance

upon a few of the major studies of Luther which have appeared since the midpoint

of this present century. We shall concentrate mainly on those books and articles

which appear in English, although it will be necessary at times to allude to out­standing

continental works.

The most serious impediment to an understanding of Luther here in Britain

has been the lack of adequate and comprehensive translations of his writings.

The definitive Weimar edition, which is still incomplete, yields its treasures only

to those who can cope with the late medieval Latin and middle high German in

which Luther expressed himself. English readers have had to rely on the much

slighter selections of Wace and Buchheim, whilst America has produced the editions

of Lenker and Holman. In 1955, however, there appeared the first of a fifty five

volume series of Luther's works, edited by Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan of Chicago, which

promises to make good a long standing deficiency. Thirty exegetical volumes are

to be published by the Concordia House of St. Louis and twenty five volumes of

Reformation writings and occasional pieces will issue from the Muhlenberg Press.

Volumes 12, 13 and 21 on the Psalms, the Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat,

are already available and maintain an exceptionally high standard. Another less

exhaustive series (edited by Bertram Lee Wolf) aims to cover The Reformation



Writings of Martin Luther. Only two volumes have so far been offered. The

Library of Christian Classics lists four titles relating to Luther, of which the



Letters of Spiritual Counsel are now ready. Professor Theodore Tappert has pro-

duced a judicious anthology. Dr. Pauck's rendering of the Lectures on Romans

will be awaited with the utmost interest: meanwhile we have to be satisfied with

J. Theodore Mueller's abbreviated version of 1954. For the theological significance

of this 'Reformation manifesto', as James Mackinnon called it, see my articles

in the Scottish Journal of Theology, March and June, 1950.

4

The year 1950 marked the advent of two remarkable biographies of Luther.



There was urgent need both for a full length critical treatment and for a shorter

popular account. The first is supplied by E. G. Schwiebert in Luther and His Times:



The Reformation from a New Perspective. This is indeed a monumental master­piece.

It runs to over 300,000 words, contains almost 3,000 footnotes and includes 65

illustrations. It is a virtually exhaustive biography and yet it is much more.

It provides a broad historical outline of the period, sets Luther against his back­-

ground and indicates the impact of his new theology upon his contemporaries.

He is presented as a Biblical Humanist effecting an educational reformation from

the University of Wittenberg. Schwiebert is no stylist and makes little attempt

to quicken the imagination. Roland H. Bainton, on the contrary, in Here I Stand:



A Life of Martin Luther, brilliantly succeeds in bringing the Reformer to vivid

life, and now that a cheap paper backed edition has been put on the market this

will undoubtedly top the bill as the best readable biography of Luther. It is

undergirded by sound historical scholarship.

Passing over W. J. Kooiman's By Faith Alone, which rather falls between

two stools, we note E. G. Rupp's Luther's Progress to the Diet of Worms, which

reviews the spiritual pilgrimage of the one time Augustinian monk in the lively

manner which we have learned to associate with the author. Mention must also

be made of the early chapters in Wilhelm Pauck's The Heritage of the Reformation

which deal with Luther's theological development. Whatever the truth about

Luther,' wrote Rupp, 'it will never he found by those who by pass his theology.'

The remainder of this bibliography is concerned with various aspects of this vital

theme. A useful introduction will be found in the first part of J. S Whale's

The Protestant Tradition, which stresses Luther's positive achievements in the realm

of doctrine. He is rightly placed at the head of a line which runs through Pascal

and Kierkegaard to the contemporary Biblical theology of encounter. For a more

extensive, though indirect, exposition of Lutheran theology the student may be

referred to Gustaf Aulén's The Faith of the Christian Church, which breathes

the very spirit of Luther and teams with quotations. Another book by Professor

Rupp, The Righteousness of God, is occupied in its central section with an ex-

amination of the underlying principle of Luther's doctrine as crystallized in the

phrase ' coram Deo '. His development from 1509 to 1521 is shown to possess

its own coherence and integrity as distinct from earlier Catholic and later Protestant

orthodoxy, and the heart of the Reformation is seen to be a crisis of vocabulary.

Dr. Rupp has done much to elucidate the relationship between Luther and the

Nominalists and on this important subject we must not overlook the article by

Bergt Haegglund on 'Was Luther a Nominalist?' (Theology, June, 1956).

Luther's ' article of a standing or a falling Church ', namely, justification

by faith, is handled by Dr. G. W. Bromiley in The Evangelical Quarterly for

April, 1952. A lucid account of varying viewpoints is contained in Luther Discovers

the Gospel: New Light upon Luther's Way from Medieval Catholicism to Evangelical

Faith by Uuras Saarnivaara followed by a direct challenge to current interpretations,

which also runs through Axel Gyllenkrok's Rechtfertigung und Heiligung in der



frühen evangelischen Theologie Luthers (Uppsala, 1952). John Dillenberger's God

Hidden and Revealed is a study of the concept of ' Deus absconditus ' as stated by

Luther in his De Servo Arbitrio. Rupp has a valuable article on 'Luther and the

Doctrine of the Church' (Scotish Journal of Theology, December, 1956) in which

he amfirms that ' the magisterial theme of Luther's ecclesiology, and its inte-

grating element, is the doctrine of the Word '. The outstanding volume on Luther's

attitude to Christian worship is Vilmos Vajta's Die Theologie des Gottesdienste



bei Luther (Göttingen, 1954). Luther's liturgical reforms are shown to have arisen

from his theological presuppositions and his idea of worship is helpfully expounded

under a dual analysis as the work of God and the work of faith. Luther's teaching

on the Holy Communion is summarized in a comparative study by Hans Grass.



Die Abendmahlslehre bei Luther und Calvin (Gütersloh, 1954). Articles include

W. H. Baar on 'Luther's Sacramental Thought' (Lutheran Ouarterly, 1950)

Norman Nagel's 'The Incarnation and the Lord's Supper in Luther' (Concordia

Theological Monthly, 1953) and Edward Quinn's 'Eck. Luther and the Mass' (Downside

Review, 1951). Gösta Hök deals with ' Luther's Doctrine of the Ministry ' as stemming from

his new conception of grace as ' favor Dei ' (Scotish Journal of Theology, March, 1954).

One of the most significant books to appear in the period under review is

Regin Prenter's Spiritus Creator: Luther's Concept of the Holy Spirit. It was

first published in Danish in 1944, but the English translation did not see the light

5

of day until 1953. Although Luther's view of the Holy Spirit dominates the whole



of his theology it is not always easy to pinpoint his thought. This Dr. Prenter

succeeds in doing to a marked degree. Attention is now being given to Luther's

hermeneutics and before long we may look for major works on this theme. Raymond

F. Surburg has dealt with the historical context in 'The Significance of Luther's

Hermeneutics for the Protestant Reformation' (Concordia Theological Monthly

1953) and more recently J. Theodore Mueller has written, perhaps rather too

emphatically, on ' Luther's Doctrine of Inspiration ' (Christianity Today, 1957).

W. Schwarz's Principles and Problems of Biblical Translation deals with the conflict

of the inspirational and philological principles in the work of sixteenth century

translation as reflected in the work of Reuchlin, Erasmus and Luther. He rather

too neatly inserts Luther into the purely inspirational category, forgetting that

recent research suggests that the Biblical humanist in Luther cannot be dismissed.

In the realm of Christian Sociology the most useful work to appear is George

W. Forell's Faith Active in Love: An Investigation of the Principles Underlying



Luther's Social Ethics (cf. my review in the Evangelical Quarterly, April, 1955).

Space forbids any detailed mention of Roman Catholic contributions to this

field, which have been considerable and generally marked bv a new sympathy

and honesty. P. Yves Congar has submitted Luther's ecclesiology to a detailed

critique in Vraie et fausse Réforme dans l'Eglise and P. Louis Bouyer examines

the fundamentals of his theology in The Spirit and Forrns of Protestantism. Those

who wish to consult a much fuller bibliography than the limits of this list will

permit should turn to John Dillenberger's survey in Church History, June, 1956.


Sunderland. A. SKEVINGTON WOOD.

6
Directory: tynbul -> library
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 50. 2 (1999) 299-305. Angel of the lord: messenger or euphemism?
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 46. 1 (1995) 151-168. The Achaean Federal Cult Part I: pseudo-julian, letters 198 1
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 44. 2 (1993) 323-337. In search of the social elite in the corinthian church
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 51. 2 (2000) 285-294. The ‘new’ roman wife and 1 timothy 2: 9-15: the search for a sitz im leben
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 48. 2 (1997) 219-243. Dionysus against the Crucified: Nietzsche contra Christianity, Part 1
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 52. 1 (2001) 83-100. Innocent suffering in egypt
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 51. 2 (2000) 193-214. Innocent suffering in mesopotamia
library -> The significance of god’s image in man gerald Bray Introduction
library -> Tyndale Bulletin 45. 2 (1994) 213-243. The epistle to the galatians and classical rhetoric: part 3


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