Lutheranism & the Classics
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|Michael J. Albrecht
||J.P. Koehler and World War I
||At semel o utinam sperata luce coiret: Recollections of Ovid in Poetry of the Reformation
||The Lutheran Reformers on Authentic and Apocryphal Works from the Early Church
||Roman Power and Divine Decree: Impression Management in the Masada Narrative, Judean War 7
||Lutherani, Laudemus Latine
||A Hardening of the Arteries: Pharaoh’s Heart in the Exegesis of the Fathers and Luther’s De servo arbitrio
||Fit for the fire? Medieval Canon Law as Historical-Theological Witness
|Jane Schatkin Hettrick
||A Lutheran Contribution towards Understanding Mozart
||Greek and Roman Sources in Niels Hemmingsen’s De lege naturae apodictica methodus (1563/1564)
|Wade R. Johnston
||Matthias Flacius Illyricus In Statu Confessionis with the History of the Church as his Witness, 1548-1522
||Reading Secular History with Luther in His Genesis Commentary
||History 101: The Role of History in Lutheran Pedagogy
|Esther Criscuola de Laix
||“Before Our Time”: Latin and Lay Latinity in Early Lutheran Hymnals
|Jason D. Lane
||The Mirror Image of God in the Lutheran Exegesis of James 1:16-27
||“Undertake Useful Preaching”: The Song of Songs Commentaries of Anselm of Laon and Peter the Chanter as Guidebooks for Pastoral Care
|Korey D. Maas
||A “Lutheran” Historiography? Robert Barnes’ Vitae Romanorum Pontificum as Case Study
|Walter A. Maier, III
||The Authorial Intent of an Israelite Historian
|Benjamin T.G. Mayes
||The History of Scripture in the Age of Lutheran Orthodoxy
|Martin R. Noland
||The German Historicist Tradition and its Effects on Protestant Theology and the Classical Educational Tradition
|John G. Nordling
||History and Fate in Josephus Bellum Judaicum 3.399-408
|C. Matthew Phillips
||The Foolishness of the Cross: The Doctrine of Redemption in Twelfth Century Sermons on the Cross
||The Hebrews Drink from the Source, the Greeks from the Rivulets…, and the Latin People from the Puddle
|Peter M. Prange
||The Historical Weltanschauung of Professor John Ph. Koehler
||Luther’s exegesis of Micah 7 and its early reception among the Lutheran Fathers
|Margaret A. Schatkin
||Franz Theodor Förster (1839-1898): Chrysostom Scholar and Lutheran Pedagogue
|Ken R. Schurb
||Philip Melanchthon and Loci Communes
|Carl P.E. Springer
||Kultur and Kirche: J.P. Koehler’s Sacred Historiography.
||The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation
|Jason L. Thompson
||Trochees, Dactyls, and Correpta: Making Sense of the Gregorian Psalm Tones by Understanding Metric Feet.
|Søren Strat Urberg
||The Runes Revisited
Michael J. Albrecht
St. James Ev. Lutheran Church, West St. Paul, Minn.
J.P. Koehler and World War I
I propose to examine Koehler’s “Unser Schuld am Weltkrieg,” considering both the first installment which was published in the Theologische Quartalschrift, and the second installment which his colleagues declined to publish in the Quartalschrift. In combination with this fascinating article, I would also like to consider the letter that Koehler wrote to President Wilson, which was the subject of an article that I contributed to Faith-Life a few years ago. Questions worthy of pondering include: How did Koehler’s historical sense enable him to evaluate and critique current events? What can we learn from Koehler that will help us to do likewise?
Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.
At semel o utinam sperata luce coiret: Recollections of Ovid in Poetry of the Reformation
Johann Sastrow earned degrees at Wittenberg, graduating in 1540 after making the acquaintance of Luther, Melanchthon, and Barnes. Named imperial poet laureate in 1544, Sastrow’s oeuvre includes a brief collection including both a lament for Barnes and an encomium of Melanchthon, to which Sastrow adds a poetic complaint concerning the church, Querela de Ecclesia, addressed ostensibly to Emperor Charles V. The poems appear thematically similar in their polemic against tyranny (Henry VIII being Sastrow’s particular foil in other poems), and the Querela poem delivers the church’s complaint in a similar vein. In a reforming church that historically identifies with the theme of exile (cf. Luther’s earlier On the Babylonian Captivity), Sastrow’s poem is remarkable in its attempt to reach back not only to classical Roman poetry in order to legitimize his humanistic endeavor, but above all to Ovid, the Roman exile poet par excellence.
Analysis of Sastrow’s Querela will demonstrate, among other classical resonances, the poet’s proclivity for Ovidian topoi and language. But whereas the Augustan poet’s complaints went unanswered by two emperors, Sastrow’s poem may suggest the poet’s hope for his own contemporary Caesar’s ability to draw a church in exile back into the light of day through his historic birthright, as the poet nods nostalgically to Nicaea. The poet’s apostrophe to Charles, and the beginning of the Council of Trent in 1545, may furthermore help to date the poem and Sastrow’s anti-tyrannical collection.
Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.
The Lutheran Reformers on Authentic and Apocryphal Works from the Early Church
The resurgence of patristic study during the Reformation presented a number of theological and historical challenges for the Lutheran Reformers. From a theological perspective, the Reformers addressed the relationship between the early church and themselves. Here the issue was twofold: they affirmed the faithful labors of the Fathers and their enduring voice in theological discussion but also carefully showed the limits of continuity with the Fathers. Related to this was a significant historical issue. Certain texts from the early church claimed apostolic authorship or apostolic authority, e.g., the Apostolic Constitutions and Canons, the works of ps-Dionysius the Areopagite. Other texts had been tampered with and additional material added, e.g., the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. When these texts appear in the polemical debates of the sixteenth century, our Lutheran Reformers responded both theologically and historically in an effort to determine which texts were authentic and which were apocryphal or pseudepigraphical. The question of my paper is a simple one: how did our Lutheran Reformers make these historical judgments? What method did they follow in determining authorship or identifying interpolations in contaminated texts? My paper will explore how the Reformers addressed these concerns.
Concordia University, Irvine, Calif.
Roman Power and Divine Decree: Impression Management in the Masada Narrative, Judean War 7
Josephus’ narrative of how the last rebels committed suicide at Masada is a masterful construct which balances the need to satisfy his Flavian patrons while defending Judean character. Recent studies identify how Roman power is subtly undermined throughout the narrative and how the Sicarii are made to submit to death by divine decree. This paper will further explore this narrative to see how the accent on divine authority acts as a counterweight to Flavian religious propaganda concerning the defeated Judeans.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill.
Lutherani, Laudemus Latine
Since the summer of 2012, I have been translating hymns from English into Latin. To date, I have reached a plateau of eighty two (82), aspiring to summit at 100. In this presentation I intend to facilitate an interactive musical survey of approximately one dozen of these hymns. A potential title for this session might well be Lutheranī, Laudēmus Latīnē (Lutherans, let us praise in Latin). The envisioned format has an introduction of no more than four minutes, followed by 18 to 20 minutes of vocal sampling, leaving a minute or so for concluding remarks. A handout, elucidating the background, rationale and technical details of the translating enterprise, will be available for all in attendance. Presently, I am working with the following outline:
- Introduction and background for Latinized hymns
- Translational prolegomena: Poetry into poetry (highly monosyllabic English versus highly polysyllabic Latin. Semantic or dynamic equivalence?)
- Translational particulars: Poetry versus prose
- Syntax (e. g. Dative of direction; Ablative of place sans preposition; Infinitive of purpose; Progressive verbal aspects with “Greek” periphrastic usage; etc.)
- Meter: Based on word accent rather than syllable quantity (Oxytones, Paroxytones, Proparoxytones; Hiatus or Elision?; Cadence of 3/4 and 4/4 time)
- Rhyme: Mind the macrons
- Style (e. g. no more than two monosyllables in sequence to avoid “choppiness”; Classical or Ecclesiastical vocabulary?)
Concordia University, Mequon, Wis.
A Hardening of the Arteries: Pharaoh’s Heart in the Exegesis of the Fathers and Luther’s De servo arbitrio
The exegesis of the Fathers of the Church on the portions of Exodus that deal with the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart set the stage for many of the issues of interpretation regarding this enigmatic passage. This paper will present a sampling of the Fathers’ interpretation of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, focusing on the earliest exegesis by Origen, in interaction with Luther and his debate with Erasmus on the Bondage of the Will (De Servo Arbitrio) where the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart forms an important component of his understanding of the bound will in his debate with Erasmus.
St. John Lutheran Church, Crete, Neb.
Fit for the fire? Medieval Canon Law as Historical-Theological Witness
On December 10, 1520 Luther burned a collection of Medieval Canon Law in Wittenberg along with the papal bull Exurge, Domine of Leo X which had condemned Luther’s writings earlier that June. That event, however, did not end Lutherans’ relationship to or use of the so-called Corpus Iuris Canonici. To the contrary, the Lutheran Confessions boldly assert, “If one will consider it rightly, we keep the canons more truly than our opponents do” (Ap. XV.39). This paper will examine this claim by exploring how Lutherans continued to use canon law as an historical witness to the truth of God’s Word and as guide for church life. Emphasis will be placed on how the Lutheran Confessions view and use canon law, as well as its reception by the later dogmaticians, chiefly Johann Gerhard. Because most modern Lutherans have little to no experience or knowledge of Medieval canon law, a brief synopsis of its content, character, and history will be offered.
Jane Schatkin Hettrick
Rider University, Lawrenceville, N.J.
A Lutheran Contribution towards Understanding Mozart
During war time (1943), Friedrich Brinkmann, distinguished Lutheran church musician of St. Michaelis, Hamburg, published an edition/arrangement of Mozart’s compositions for Spieluhr (mechanical organ clock,1791). Though Mozart’s complete works had been published (1777-1883, Breitkopf & Härtel), Brinkmann’s edition made a unique contribution. He understood Mozart’s relationship to the organ.
With no professional opportunity to write serious organ music, Mozart nevertheless declared: “the organ is my passion . . . the king of instruments.” Throughout his life he played numerous organs, including the Bach organ in the Thomaskirche, Leipzig. He studied Bach deeply and the Lutheran master’s “old” music profoundly influenced Mozart’s mature style.
The task of composing for the Spieluhr distressed Mozart, who wrote “if the thing (“Ding”) only sounded like an organ.” Nevertheless, from the beginning, the Spieluhr pieces were published for every imaginable combination of instruments except the organ—probably because the dominant Catholic culture of Vienna did not favor the organ.
This paper will demonstrate why these pieces had to wait for a Lutheran musician to recognize that they deserve to be heard on a real organ. By archival research, it will explore Brinkmann’s contributions and his connections to major figures in Lutheran music history.
Music: A CD recording prepared by the leading authority on the 18th-century mechanical clock will enable listeners to hear a rare example of Mozart’s Fantasie (K608) on the Spieluhr. In contrast, I will perform K608 (12 minutes) on the chapel organ.
Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich.
Greek and Roman Sources in Niels Hemmingsen’s De lege naturae apodictica methodus (1563/1564)
Niels Hemmingsen (Nicolaus Hemming) (1513-1600), the Danish Lutheran humanist, theologian, philosopher, and professor of Greek, dialectic, and theology at the University of Copenhagen, was famous in his own day but now languishes in almost total obscurity, although he deserves to be much better known. After studying with Melanchthon, the Praeceptor Germaniae, in Wittenberg, he returned to Denmark and authored important works on theology (for example, his Enchiridion theologicum), exegesis (De methodis libri duo and several biblical commentaries), and legal philosophy (De lege naturae apodictica methodus), and was in turn honored with the sobriquet Praeceptor Daniae.
I shall investigate the use of classical sources in Hemmingsen’s work on the law of nature. In De lege naturae, Hemmingsen “set out to demonstrate the natural universality and superiority of the Decalogue as a source and summary of natural law. He adduced hundreds of ancient Greek and Roman passages that, in his view, were consistent with conventional Evangelical interpretations of each of the Commandments” (Witte 1990, 140). The authors cited by Hemmingsen come from both Greek and Roman literature and include such authors as Hesiod, Sophocles, Xenophon, Aristotle, Cicero, and Lucan. Yet there has been no systematic attempt to investigate how his use of classical sources coheres with his scriptural and philosophical arguments vis-à-vis the natural and Mosaic laws. In my paper, I shall examine the range of uses to which Hemmingsen puts sources from an ancient historical epoch and, indeed, from two different traditions, the Hebraic and the Greco-Roman, in that same epoch.
Wade R. Johnston
Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis.
Matthias Flacius Illyricus In Statu Confessionis with the History of the Church as his Witness, 1548-1522
Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520-1575) was a prominent and influential theologian in the Adiaphoristic Controversy, which followed the reformer’s death and the Schmalkaldic League’s defeat at Mühlberg. Riding momentum, Emperor Charles V introduced the Augsburg Interim, which reintroduced various practices of the Roman Church and restored the jurisdiction of bishops. Some prominent Lutherans, including Philipp Melanchthon and other Wittenberg faculty, crafted a compromise formula, the Leipzig Proposal, or Leipzig Interim, as Flacius dubbed it in a publicity coup. Flacius vigorously opposed their concessions as traitorous—open and shameful infidelity to Luther’s Reformation. Together with several other prominent Lutheran pastors and theologians like Nicholas Amsdorf, he spearheaded the literary campaign of the besieged city of Magdeburg, which refused to submit to the new imperial law.
Careful study of his writings from this period reveals that Flacius understood church history as a sequence of cycles. The Adiaphoristic Controversy was therefore only a new chapter in a repetitive narrative of a church militant marked and defined by the cross and suffering. Grounding his argument in the New Testament, Flacius nevertheless made frequent appeal to the Old Testament and Apocrypha for historical precedent, especially regarding resistance to ecclesiastical and secular authority. Interestingly, he also drew upon a surprising number of examples from post-apostolic church history. Here, then, one finds in nascent form what would become Flacius’ lifelong endeavor to root Luther’s teaching and the proper defense of it in the history of the Christian Church and to frame current crises in the light of earlier battles for the truth of God’s Word.
First Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Chicago, Ill.
Reading Secular History with Luther in His Genesis Commentary
Martin Luther is not known for being a chronicler of secular history. He is chiefly interested in biblical exegesis and in the theological controversies of his day. To be sure, those interests require him to delve into biblical history and church history, primarily the history of doctrine, but he is not interested in setting out the entire course of world history or even a substantial portion thereof. Furthermore, he lived in an age before Leopold von Ranke and modern source-based history. In fact, he lived in an era when one spoke more of Geschichten (i.e., individualized histories) rather than Geschichte (history with a grand sweeping narrative and with deep philosophical underpinnings, as became common after the middle of the 18th century). Thus, unlike his later heirs Matthias Flacius and Johann Georg Hamann, he neither oversaw an extensive project of church history (let alone secular history) nor created an explicit philosophy of history in reaction to current trends of thought.
Nonetheless, his Genesis Commentary offers an abundance of references to secular history as he expounds biblical history. Most of them are made in passing, but nonetheless they bear close scrutiny, especially when viewed in sum. This paper will examine what we can learn about Luther’s views about secular history from this commentary. This paper will look at several questions, including the following: What events and personages does Luther mention most frequently? What eras and what places interest him the most and why? Where does Luther learn his history and which historians does he prefer? Is there a particular reason for his preferences? Is secular history a foil to biblical history or does it have something additional to teach people? What sort of theology of history (whether implicitly or explicitly) lies behind his analysis of historical events? And did his theology of history leave traces in later Lutheran historians, philosophers, and theologians?
Concordia University, Chicago, Ill.
History 101: The Role of History in Lutheran Pedagogy
John Dewey, perhaps the most influential figure in American public education, believed that the teaching of history should be used to further the humanistic aims of emphasizing the potential for positive human development. His vision was has become the orthodox view of pedagogical role of history in contemporary education.
Of course there are other views. Lutherans have – or at least should have – a different view. Both Luther and Melanchthon believed that history should have a prominent role in the Lutheran classroom because it was a record of how God dealt with men. For various reasons their suggestions met with limited success, however they do present a starting point for a Lutheran understanding of the topic.
In this presentation I will explore Luther’s and Melanchthon’s understanding of history and how they believed it should be used in the classroom, the impact those views made on Evangelical curricula in the 16th century and how their understanding of history might serve as a corrective to the prevailing paradigms in popular use today.
Esther Criscuola de Laix
A-R Editions, Inc., Middleton, Wis.
“Before Our Time”: Latin and Lay Latinity in Early Lutheran Hymnals
The prominence of the Latin language in early Lutheran liturgy, culture, and music is well known. Besides Luther’s well-known endorsement of Latin liturgy in the Formula Missae (1523), service books such as Lucas Lossius’s Psalmodia (first published 1553) testify to its continued use in the generations following, and Latin odes, psalm paraphrases, and motets were staples of the Latin school music curriculum. Such works are often contrasted with the vernacular devotional literature of the hymnal, catechism, postil, and prayer book, with the former considered representative of the learned upper classes and the latter of the less erudite “common folk.” Yet the appearance of Latin and partially Latin songs and prayers in early Lutheran hymnals—the poster-child works of early Lutheran vernacular culture—suggest that this dichotomy was not quite so absolute. At a minimum, most hymnals included the popular pre-Reformation Christmas songs “Dies est laetitiae,” “In dulci jubilo,” and “Puer natus in Bethlehem.” Some featured more: besides the Christmas songs, the two Hamburg Enchiridion hymnals (1558 and 1565) included the communion responsory Discubuit Jesus and versions of Latin chants “corrected” by Hermann Bonnus (1504–48), while several Latin chants appear among the funeral songs at the end of the Babstsches Gesanbuch (1545). This paper surveys the Latin items appearing in early Lutheran hymnals, considering their musical and literary characteristics, their roles in contemporary vernacular devotional practice, and the larger question of “lay Latinity”—the role of Latin in the devotional life of the less educated classes.
Jason D. Lane
Concordia University, Mequon, Wis.
The Mirror Image of God in the Lutheran Exegesis of James 1:16-27
The Epistle of James—that “strawy epistle” according to Luther—has a surprisingly rich history of exposition in the Lutheran church. Andreas Althamer (1527/33), Matthias Flacius (1570), Niels Hemmingsen (1579), Balthasar Kerner (1641), Jesper Brochmand (1641), and Hartmannus Creidius (1649) all wrote complete Lutheran commentaries on the Epistle of James and offer an alternative to the common complaint that “[t]he Lutheran attitude towards the Epistle of James has been one of predicament, embarrassment, and confusion” (D. Scaer). In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, James 1:16-27 has from the epistle the richest history of exegesis among Lutherans, due to its inclusion in the church’s lectionary on the 4th and 5th Sundays after Easter. Luther himself preached on these verses on 5 separate occasions (1535-1539). James 1:16-27 presents the reader with distinctly Lutheran motifs: the immutability of God and His gifts (1:17), the revealed will of God and the power of the Word to regenerate and save souls (1:18-21), and, central to the epistle, sanctification or new obedience (1:22-27).
This paper will examine how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Lutheran commentators and preachers explain and proclaim the “strawy epistle”. Special attention will be given to the restoration of the imago Dei from James 1:17 and to the corollary in 1:23, where James introduces the illustration of “the mirror”. In what way does this mirror of a “completed law of liberty” reflect on the Christian life? I intend to show how James informs Luther and his heirs, each in a unique way, to teach good works and sanctification in light of the restored image of God per verbum veritatis.
Indiana University—Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Ind.
“Undertake Useful Preaching”: The Song of Songs Commentaries of Anselm of Laon and Peter the Chanter as Guidebooks for Pastoral Care
The Song of Songs has a reputation among medieval historians as being the quintessential monastic text. Dom Jean Leclercq, for example, wrote in his work The Love of Learning and the Desire for God that “the Canticle of Canticles is a contemplative text…it is not pastoral in nature; it does not teach morality…it was more attuned than any other book in Sacred Scripture to loving, disinterested contemplation.” In the High Middle Ages, however, a new kind of interpretation of this so-called contemplative text emerged in the cathedral schools of northern France. These commentaries put forth an entirely new interpretation of the Song of Songs that champions an active life of preaching over a life spent in contemplation, and they emphasize the paramount importance of pastoral care.
The commentary written by Anselm of Laon (d. 1117) forms the basis for this new active and pastoral interpretation of the Song of Songs, and his commentary served as an important source for the influential Glossa Ordinaria, which became a foundational school text for the next two centuries. Anselm’s interpretation, primarily through the vehicle of the Glossa, influenced Peter the Chanter (d. 1197), whose emphasis on practical concerns led modern scholars to place him at the head of a “biblical-moral school.” Both Anselm and Peter’s commentaries contain many exhortations to preach, as well as practical preaching advice, such as calls to modify sermons to fit one’s audience and the importance of purging one’s self of sin before preaching.
I hope to show in this paper that these biblical commentaries, at least, present a kind of guide to pastoral care for cathedral school students who would become the leading preachers and teachers in the high medieval Church. These biblical commentaries reveal the diverse ways in which cathedral school masters were imparting ideas of pastoral care and reform to their students in the century leading up to the Fourth Lateran Council.
Korey D. Maas
Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich.
A “Lutheran” Historiography? Robert Barnes’ Vitae Romanorum Pontificum as Case Study
In light of the increasing popularity and evident utility of history manifested in Renaissance humanism, it is hardly surprising that the reformers would embrace and attempt to capitalize on the discipline. Given the reformers’ commitment to the doctrine of sola scriptura, however, a theologically and polemically “useful” historiography would have to articulate an understanding of the relationship between history, Scripture, and the authority of each. As a number of competing models of this relationship were already implicit in early Protestant polemic, this paper will raise the question of whether one might speak of anything like a distinctively Lutheran historiography.
In attempting to answer this question, the 1536 Vitae Romanorum Pontificum of Robert Barnes will be examined by way of case study. Though a native Englishman, Barnes’ Lutheranism is well attested both by his doctrinal writings and by the esteem in which he was held by the Wittenberg reformers. Luther himself, for example, would pen laudatory prefaces to more than one edition of the work here examined. The Vitae especially merits attention, though, because (though now widely neglected) it has been recognized as “one of the earliest excursions of the Reformers into Church History.” As such, it has been further claimed that the Vitae “broke ground” and was the “first important contribution of the Protestant camp.” It will be argued that in the Vitae one does indeed see what might be deemed a distinctively Lutheran historiography.
Walter A. Maier, III
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Authorial Intent of an Israelite Historian
As a Lutheran theologian, I have been looking at the history of ancient Israel, specifically the period of the Divided Monarchy, through the lens provided by the author of 1 and 2 Kings. The more familiar I become with these books, the more I am convinced that this author, while providing accurate, reliable data, at the same time did not present all that he could have, but only selected information. This was because he was writing from a certain editorial standpoint, and for a specific purpose. His stance and intent become clearer, I believe, when compared with that of the author of Chronicles. Further, the Kings historian was a flesh-and-blood human being. Though he was composing under inspiration, and writing the very words God wanted recorded, his emotions (happiness, anger, etc.) "come through" in his literary work. Indeed, God used the author's personality and feelings for the production of Kings. All of this helps to explain why (when compared with Chronicles) certain matters are emphasized in his history, certain matters receive brief coverage, certain matters are omitted, and accounts are shaped in a certain way. I plan to present these thoughts and observations, and then illustrate them with specific examples from Kings, as time permits.
Benjamin T.G. Mayes
Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo.
The History of Scripture in the Age of Lutheran Orthodoxy
Historical examinations of theology and ecclesiastical culture in Lutheran Europe of the 17th century has traditionally ignored scriptural exegesis and concentrated solely on dogmatics. They have castigated the Orthodox Lutherans for “inventing” the doctrine of verbal inspiration while at the same time neglecting the study of the Bible. On the other hand, the Orthodox have been blamed for anticipating the Enlightenment’s historical criticism of the Bible and even contributing to it. Yet several recent studies of the period have challenged this view and showed that the Orthodox did not invent inspiration, did not ignore the “human side” and historical character of Scripture, and based all of their theology on their study of Scripture. Orthodox Lutherans were experts in Greek, Hebrew, other Semitic languages, Judaica, classical rhetoric, the early church fathers, medieval exegesis, typological exegesis, and the application of Holy Scripture to the faith and life of their hearers and readers.
While the field of research on the Lutheran doctrine of Scripture and exegesis in the 17th and 18th centuries is vast, the field can be summarized around significant contributions made by Johann Gerhard, Friedrich Balduin, Salomon Glassius, Abraham Calov, Johann Jakob Rambach, and Johann Albrecht Bengel. Here we will summarize what has been discovered, where the controversies are, what still needs to be studied, and, most of all, what Christians today can gain by studying the biblical exegesis of Lutheran Orthodoxy.
Martin R. Noland
Trinity Lutheran Church, Evansville, Ind.
The German Historicist Tradition and its Effects on Protestant Theology and the Classical Educational Tradition
In a recent work on the subject of the German historicist tradition, Frederick C. Beiser observes that for historicists “it was impossible to generalize values and beliefs beyond one’s own age, as if they somehow held for humanity or reason in general. Any belief in a universal worldview, a supernatural revelation, an absolute moral code, a natural law, or natural religion, was ethnocentric, arising from an illusory attempt to leap beyond one’s own age” (The German Historicist Tradition [Oxford University Press, 2011], 1). The German historicist tradition was influential in the academy from about 1750 to 1930, but its basic premises are today nearly universal. Beiser remarks “today we are all historicist in our way of thinking” (ibid., vii).
My essay will attempt to explain to the audience what the German historicist tradition was and its ongoing effects in two areas of modern life. First, it has seriously challenged the traditional notion of dogma in Christianity, as expressed, for example, by the creeds and confessions of the church. Second, it has undermined the pedagogical role of Greek and Roman classical literature, which used to be seen as the purveyor of timeless truths, virtues, and eloquence. In other words: If there is no such thing as timeless truths, why study the Greeks and Romans?
I will also attempt to offer a brief reply to the historicist challenge that may be of use to pastors and church leaders in confessional church-bodies and to pedagogues who value the Greek and Roman classics.
John G. Nordling
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.
History and Fate in Josephus Bellum Judaicum 3.399-408
Luther believed that it was beneficial for a Christian to read history—even pagan history—and his writings abound in moralistic exempla drawn from the ancients. He would have enjoyed Josephus BJ 3.399-408 wherein the Jewish historian proudly depicts his own prediction of Vespasian and Titus’s accession to the principate. Josephus states that it was “God” who controlled Vespasian’s destiny (BJ 3.400, 402, 404) whereas slightly later contemporaries (e.g., Tacitus Hist 1.10; 2.1; 5.13; Suetonius Vesp 4-5; Dio Cassius Epitome 66.1)—several of whom seem aware of the Josephus passage—make greater allowances for fatum and its portents, though Josephus too mentions “other tokens” (δι ̓ ἑτέρων σημείων, 3.404). What then of Josephus and the other historians’ understanding of fate? Was this at odds with Luther’s understanding of God’s immutable purposes in history? The present paper probes the Josephus passage with an eye toward Luther’s belief in the salutary effects of history and how understanding world events from God’s point of view could make one a better Christian.
C. Matthew Phillips
Concordia University, Seward, Neb.
The Foolishness of the Cross: The Doctrine of Redemption in Twelfth Century Sermons on the Cross
The Lutheran Reformers, particularly Martin Luther, focused on the redemptive act of the crucified Christ for sinful humanity’s justification and forgiveness. However, Luther did not write in a vacuum nor did he seek to completely re-write the Christian theology of redemption. Additionally, Luther did not know of a considerable amount of twelfth-century sermons that expressed a theology of the cross and redemption. However, he did speak approvingly of Bernard of Clairvaux, as Franz Posset has demonstrated. My paper will examine these twelfth-century sermons in relation to these preachers’ specific teachings on the cross and redemption.
Independent Catholic Luther Scholar
The Hebrews Drink from the Source, the Greeks from the Rivulets…, and the Latin People from the Puddle
The quotation given in the title is taken from Luther’s lengthy Table Talk (nos. 3271, 1040; not found in AE 54). Although one must be cautious in using Table Talk as original historical source material, in the case of this Talk (with its at times enigmatic and obscure elements) there is a good chance that it has historical value. Luther uses this phrase as if he cites an already known proverb. However, the origin of it is difficult to determine. A very similar version of the proverb is reported to have been inscribed on a wall of the Augustinian friary at Lauingen: Hebraei fontem, Graeci rivulos, Latini paludem bibunt (The Hebrew drink from the source, the Greeks from the rivulets, the Latin people from the swamp). Therefore, one may see the possible origin of it within the Augustinian Order tradition with its openness to ideas of Renaissance humanism. Regardless of its ultimate origin, one may ask what Luther meant by it. An analysis of the Table Talk shows that Luther cited it within the wider context of comparing ancient religions and of the commenting on the characteristics of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and also German; including perhaps a side-view on Renaissance Ciceronianism. However, Luther stresses primarily the necessity of studying Hebrew in order to be able to explain a very specific phenomenon, i.e., Semitisms (Hebraisms) in the Greek New Testament. Luther connects the proverb directly to this issue, ignoring the derogatory aspect of the proverb for the Latin people/language.
Peter M. Prange
Jerusalem Lutheran Church, Morton Grove, Ill.
The Historical Weltanschauung of Professor John Ph. Koehler
No historian is completely objective. The historian brings with him his own perspective, his own Weltanschauung. The peculiar Weltanschauung of the historian John Ph. Koehler (1859-1951) was undoubtedly forged in his childhood home, the parsonage of Philipp Koehler (1828-1895), a pioneer pastor of the Wisconsin Synod. The elder Koehler was no synodical “yes man.” He was well known for the regular critiques he offered to his ecclesiastical supervisors during the infant years of the Wisconsin Synod, critiques that he attempted to provide, it would seem, in an even-handed yet unvarnished way. It is within this context that John Ph. Koehler became the historian he was, particularly of his own beloved church body. In The History of the Wisconsin Synod, Koehler provides an account of the Wisconsin Synod’s founding and early years within the greater context of church and world history, asserting that this small church body’s history serves as an interesting microcosm of God’s gracious working in and through his people in all ages despite their many sins and failings. In this respect, Koehler’s historical approach mirrors that of the inspired writers, who present God’s people to us honestly, warts and all.
Concordia University, Mequon, Wisc.
Luther’s exegesis of Micah 7 and its early reception among the Lutheran Fathers
At the beginning of his lecture on Micah 7, Luther asserts that the prophet “first rebukes the wicked way of life of the people and then passes over to the kingdom of Christ” (Luther, AE 18:268). Throughout verses 1-13, Luther remains focused on the ancient Israelite audience. He does not even mention the citation of Micah 7:6 in the New Testament, much less mention that the verse is fulfilled in Christ. He connects the building of walls with the return from exile and speaks of the nations coming to the rebuilt temple in verse 12. Then Luther identifies the shift of focus from the kingdom of Israel to Christ’s kingdom in verse 14. As part of his justification for this structure of the text, Luther cites an ancient exegetical principle: the text does not make sense on the literal level and so must be understood in a spiritual way. Verses 1-13 are to be understood according to the literal sense, while verses 14-20 should be read according to the spiritual sense. This paper will investigate the reception of Luther’s interpretation of Micah 7 in the period after Luther, including works by David Chytraeus, Nicholas Selnecker, and Polycarp Lyser, examining whether and to what extent these Fathers follow Luther’s historical exegesis mentioned above, his reason for transitioning from literal to spiritual senses in verse 14, and his explication of the spiritual sense in verses 14-20.
Margaret A. Schatkin
Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Franz Theodor Förster (1839-1898): Chrysostom Scholar and Lutheran Pedagogue
Franz Theodor Förster was born the son of a Pastor in Lützen on January 28, 1839. He received the licentiate degree in theology from the University of Halle in 1865, with the Dissertation, De doctrina et sententiis Dionysii Magni episcopi Alexandrini. On November 10, 1883 (“Luthertag”) he was awarded his doctorate from the Theologische Fakultät of the University Halle-Wittenberg, having completed the book, Ambrosius von Mailand. In the dedication, he states that he was formed by the evangelical gentleness, orthodox science (knowledge), and Protestant resoluteness of the theological faculty of the University Halle-Wittenberg. During his lifetime he served in a number of important ecclesiastical and academic positions, spending his leisure time on church history, religious education, and Patristics, and writing many books and articles.
As a Chrysostom scholar, Förster published two important works on St. John Chrysostom. His book, Chrysostomus in seinem Verhältnis zur antiochenischen Schule: Ein Beitrag zur Dogmengeschichte (Gotha, 1869), explores the position of Chrysostom within the Antiochene School. His article, “Chrysostomus als Apologet,” in Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie (1870), is fundamental to our understanding of Chrysostom’s apologetics.
In this paper we shall highlight distinctive traits of Förster’s analysis of Chrysostom, and note his relation to earlier scholars, such as Johann August Wilhelm Neander (1789-1850); Heinrich Ernst Ferdinand Guericke (1803-78); Isaak August Dorner (1809-84); and Georg Friedrich Böhringer (1812-79). We shall also examine the influence of his work upon subsequent scholarship, including Joseph Hermenegild Juzek (1912), Chrysostomus Baur, O.S.B. (1929), and Jaroslav Pelikan (1967).
Ken R. Schurb
Zion Lutheran Church, Moberly, Mo.
Philip Melanchthon and Loci Communes
Among Martin Luther's colleagues on the Wittenberg University faculty, none stood out more prominently than Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560). Already an eminent humanist when he began teaching Greek in Wittenberg at the ripe old age of 21, Melanchthon remained devoted to the revival of classical learning throughout his career. He wrote treatises on classical authors from Plato to Cicero, as well as works with the purpose of applying the wisdom of the ancients to the conduct of life. Eventually he became such a key figure in the development of curricula at every educational level that he grew to be known as the “praeceptor of Germany.” Throughout his career, the erudite Melanchthon flatly refused to relinquish his initial appointment in the Wittenberg arts faculty when he was offered the opportunity to teach theology on a full-time basis. However, he did teach theology. Moreover, he distinguished himself as a theologian not only by writing three of the Lutheran confessional documents but also with his Loci communes, an application of the humanistic topical or method of study to theology.
The topical method as practiced by Melanchthon and others was based on ancient rhetoric. The generation of humanists previous to Melanchthon, particularly Rudolf Agricola, had revived this method. In the sixteenth century it was applied not only to theology but also to many other disciplines. Scholars have differed somewhat over Melanchthon’s precise sources and intentions for the method. For example, Wilhelm Maurer recognized the place of Agricola in Melanchthon’s background, yet Maurer maintained that Melanchthon had greater recourse to the ancients themselves and that the praeceptor was more interested in dialectic as he used the Loci method than others thought. This paper briefly describes Melanchthon’s basic approach to the method. It goes on to note a key distinction that he made in applying this method to theology. Finally, it concludes with a glance at Melanchthon’s aim in using the method in theology.
Carl P.E. Springer
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Ill.
Kultur and Kirche: J.P. Koehler’s Sacred Historiography.
According to J.P. Koehler, the study of church history may not be separated from the study of culture and the arts in general, even if these are not directly connected with the church or even appear to be in opposition to it. The deep rift between sacred and secular that characterizes post-Enlightenment thought should not mislead us today into imagining that such distinctions always existed. For the most part, they are of relatively recent vintage. Koehler writes of art in general that it “is created through the truth, which is brought to expression in accordance with external circumstances. But this is not motivated by aesthetic considerations, even though these play a role, humanly speaking, in the construction of forms, but rather it is driven by concerns for edification.” This paper will explore Koehler’s emphasis on the “harmony of aesthetics and edification” and how he applied that to the study of church history. The two principles are not the same, of course. They are as different from each other as are “faith” and “life” or “justification” and “sanctification,” but that does not mean that they are at odds with each other; the greatest art in the world is not the product of superb human talent and technique alone, but is grounded in the deepest and most sublime God-given truths.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Spring Lake Park, Minn.
The Influence of Patristic Literature upon the Reformation
A common understanding of the usage of patristic sources during the Reformation period is that brief quotations were copied mechanically from the Sentences of Peter Lombard (1096-1164) or late medieval patristic anthologies. Relatively unknown is the fact that by the beginning of the 17th century, over 1600 volumes had been printed that contained the writings of the church fathers of both the west and the east. It is these works that provided the content for Jacques Paul Migne’s (1800-1875) massive 386 volume Patrologiae cursus completes. But even more startling, by delving into the question of the publication of just the collected-works editions of the church fathers that appeared between the years of 1460 and 1570, the distinct impression is made that the works of the church fathers in their entirety must have been much more influential in the Reformation period than has up until now been acknowledged. Simply an awareness of the common availability of the writings of the ancient church in the 16th century thus affords a new vista from which the theological developments of the period can be assessed.
Jason L. Thompson
Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Ind.
Trochees, Dactyls, and Correpta: Making Sense of the Gregorian Psalm Tones by Understanding Metric Feet.
Recently, there has been an increased interest in adapting Gregorian Psalm tones for English speaking Lutherans. While great strides have been made in understanding how these Psalm tones fit the text, the key lies in understanding the final two metric feet of each verse. This paper will look at the Reformation era sources for the Gregorian Psalm tones, and consider how these tones interact with both Latin and German texts. It will then propose solutions for adapting these tones into English.
Søren Strat Urberg
Pastor Emeritus, Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Runes Revisited
As popular awareness is concerned, the mention of runes may suggest little or nothing more than divination or magic, but they are essentially a series of graphemes comprising futharks, or futhorks, various versions of a kind of alphabet used by Germanic peoples in transcribing their tongues.
Dating back a couple of millennia, it is apparent that the earliest runic forms were at least for the most part, if not entirely, derived from Old Italic configurations. Used into the Middle Ages, with the passing of time some existing characters were modified and new ones designed for phonemic reasons and others as various Germanic dialects and sub-dialects evolved in Europe.
During the so-called runic “dark age” some forms fell into disuse and were largely forgotten by the Sixteenth Century. Consequently, during the latter part of the Nineteenth Century and throughout the Twentieth Century quite a number of high profile academics in both America and Europe regarded such occasionally surviving forms as fraudulent and hence dismissed inscriptions in which they appear as hoaxes. Compelling new evidence, however, confirms the authenticity of several long-forgotten forms and, as a result, the probable genuineness of some heretofore discredited writing in which they appear.
The philological significance of recent archaeological finds, together with state-of-the-art scientific analysis of related elements both long known and newly found, has prompted a resurgence in runic studies, which may prove to be momentous as both secular and ecclesiastical history are concerned.