Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Luther's Heirs Define His Legacy: Studies of Lutheran Confessionalization

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Luther's Heirs Define His Legacy: Studies of Lutheran Confessionalization

Article excerpt

Luther's Heirs Define His Legacy:Studies on Lutheran Confessionalization. By Robert Kolb. [Variorum Collected Studies Series, CS539.] (Brookfield,Vermont:Variorum,Ashgate Publishing Company. 1996. Pp. xii, 322. $89.95.)

There is no more convincing demonstration that the fundamental layer of every culture is religion than considering the process called "confessionalization." The Variorum series has happily brought together a number of specialized studies on the confessionalization which did so much to form modern German culture and character by Dr. Robert Kolb of Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis.Thanks are due to the Variorum series for retaining the original pagination of the journal articles, which avoids the confusion which could arrive when Kolb's investigations are cited-as they surely will be-in other publications. Collected, the essays raise the hope for a comprehensive history of the Late Reformation. Reprinted in the fresh form of their original printing, they convey Kolb's enthusiasm for his period and his curiosity about individual themes.

Together, the essays in the first section, "Theology in the Context of Controversy," tend to disprove the common opinion that the early controversies about Luther's legacy were mere squabbling.There are careful essays on predestination, the necessity of good works, as well as the Lutheran reaction to the Council of Trent. Impressive is the evidence of his rare gusto for reading and interpreting long-neglected-dusty-Latin tomes of biblical interpretation. In the second section,"The Wittenberg Tradition in Biblical Exegesis," he looks into Luther's influence on the history of commentaries on Genesis and on the Epistle to the Galatians. He is interested not only in the academically acceptable theme of the influence of humanism in the Reformation, but also in the less acceptable themes of the uncompromisingly biblical emphasis of Cyriakus Spangenburg. His investigation of the fate of St. Anselm's interpretation of the atonement as "satisfaction" is a contribution to the unfinished discussion among systematic theologians. …

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