Luther's Works 58: Sermons V

By Nessan, Craig L. | Currents in Theology and Mission, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Luther's Works 58: Sermons V


Nessan, Craig L., Currents in Theology and Mission


Luther's Works 58: Sermons V. By Martin Luther. Edited by Christopher Boyd Brown. Sr. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2010. ISBN 10: 0-7586-1387-3. xxix and 489 pages. Cloth. $49.99.

Luther's Works 69: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 17-20. By Martin Luther. Edited by Christopher Boyd Brown. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 10: 0-7586-1398-9-xxii and 469 pages. Cloth. $49.99.

As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 201 7 approaches, it is fitting that new attention is given to the legacy of Martin Luther. The first 55 volumes of the American Edition of Luther's Works began to appear in 1955-Now an additional 20 volumes are being prepared by Concordia Publishing House under the editorial guidance of Christopher Boyd Brown. This review introduces the first two of these works, both books featuring Luther's sermons. Each contribution to this series is a fresh translation of Luther's writings based on the Weimar edition. Especially useful is the inclusion of the corresponding pages in the "Weimarana" at the top of each page. The volumes are enhanced by a significant critical apparatus, including substantial introductions, informative footnotes, and indexes of subjects/ names and Scripture references.

Sermons V covers Luther's preaching from January 1539 to his death in 1546. During these years, Luther preached often in Wittenberg, particularly during the absence of Pastor Johann Bugenhagen, who was very involved in organizing other congregations. In 1539 alone, Luther preached seventy times, often employing serial preaching on the Gospels. Between 1541 and 1 543, Luther's ill health limited his service as a preacher. From 1 544 to 1 546 he increased his activity as preacher (eighty-one sermons), disclosing his awareness of his own mortality and his desire to clarify his theological "testament." In the face of ongoing controversy, Luther sought to distinguish the meaning of faithfulness to the gospel in relationship to a variety of opponents. These sermons also reveal Luther's pastoral concern for the local congregation and community, sometimes sharp in condemnation of their shortcomings.

The tone of many passages seems to reflect Luther's growing despair about the course of the Reformation, shrouded in his apocalyptic outlook. Luther's warnings against the Jews, also evident in these sermons, remain a scandalous legacy and are disastrous for the history of the church. For example, the final section of the last sermon in this volume is a harsh admonition against the Jews [458-459]. Moreover, Luther's acrid polemic against the Anabaptists demonstrates the need for the act of repentance by Lutherans at The Lutheran World Federation Assembly at Stuttgart (July 2010) in relation to the Mennonite tradition [cf. …

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