Lives & Writings of the Great Fathers of the Lutheran Church

Edited by Timothy Schmeling

St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2016. 320 pages. $25.99.

Reviewed by Rev. Martin R. Noland. Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, San Mateo, CA on 02/06/2018

This excellent book is a real treat for all lovers of Lutheran orthodoxy. The average Lutheran pastor has had little in the way of resources about this topic prior to this publication. Now he can find everything he might want in a single, handy reference tool. In twenty-one chapters, seventeen authors cover twenty-one Lutheran theologians and pastors from the orthodox period (ca. 1580–1675). Each chapter focuses on a single Lutheran father in three ways: a biographical précis, a select bibliography of his major writings, and a single sample of that author’s writing. Each bibliography includes a list of works translated into English, where those are available.

Editor Timothy Schmeling is to be highly commended for his labors in gathering together an all-star cast of scholar-authors, starting with the introduction from the present “dean” of the history of Lutheran orthodoxy, Saint Louis seminary’s Dr. Robert Kolb. Other authors are from various orthodox Lutheran synods, including the Evangelical Lutheran Synod—the editor’s home base, the Lutheran Church-Canada, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and the Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche, as well as one contribution from a professor at the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo. Many of the scholar-authors are younger men, which bodes well for the future of orthodox Lutheranism in their respective synods.

More than just a reference work, this book could be used as a textbook for college, graduate school, or seminary classes on the subject. For pastors and others familiar with Lutheran theology, it may also serve as edifying devotional material.