Saturday, March 31, 2012

Resources Received

Luther, Martin. Translated by Holger Sonntag. Edited and Arranged by Paul Strawn. A Christian Holy Peoples: From Martin Luther's On the Councils and the Church. Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2012. 114 Pages. Paper. $6.00. (LHP) 
Yee, Russell. Foreword by John D. Witvliet. Worship on the Way: Exploring Asian North American Christian Experience. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2012. 234 Pages. Paper. (Advance Copy for Review Only: Releases April 30, 2012) $17.99. (LHP)
Ham, Ken, Bodie Hodge, and Tim Chaffey, Editors. Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions, Volume 2: Exploring Forty Alleged Contradictions. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2011. 169 Pages. Paper. $12.99. (LHP)
Foster, Bill. Meet the Skeptic: A Field Guide to Faith Conversations. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008, 2012. 142 Pages. Paper. $10.99. (LHP)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pulpit Review: More Ancient Christian Fathers

Haykin, Michael A. G. Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. 172 Pages. Paper. $16.99. (LHP)
Conti, Marco, Translator. Edited by Joel C. Elowsky. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on the Gospel of John (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 172 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (P)

Hill, Robert C., Carmen S. Hardin, Translators. Edited by Michael Glerup. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Severian of Gabala and Bede the Venerable: Commentaries on Genesis 1-3 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 162 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (P)

I am blessed to have a Heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, my earthly father, Lutheran fathers in the faith, and our common early Church Fathers. 

These resources will introduce you to the early Church Fathers as a whole and three in particular based on what they wrote on Genesis and John.

While the church today looks quite different than it did two thousand years ago, Christians share the same faith with the church fathers. Although separated by time and culture, we have much to learn from their lives and teaching.

This book is an organized and convenient introduction to how to read the church fathers from AD 100 to 500. Michael Haykin surveys the lives and teachings of seven of the Fathers, looking at their role in such issues as baptism, martyrdom, and the relationship between church and state. Ignatius, Cyprian, Basil of Caesarea, and Ambrose and others were foundational in the growth and purity of early Christianity, and their impact continues to shape the church today.

Evangelical readers interested in the historical roots of Christianity will find this to be a helpful introductory volume.

Michael A. G. Haykin (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than twenty-five books, including The Emergence of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuities.
(publisher's website)

Haykin's introduction to the Church Fathers is a great way for Gospel-centered Christians to rediscover their heritage in Christ. 

Church history is our history. 

These are our people. 

They are the "saints who from their labors rest" for whom we thank the Lord. 

We have forgiveness, life, salvation, and Christ in common with them. 

We share their Bible, their vocations, their sorrows and joys, and life in this world.  

And they have been neglected by Evangelicals for far too long. Call it part of the "scandal of the Evangelical mind."

The author shows a bias with regard to Holy Communion (102). I'll personally stick to what Jesus says "this" is in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians 11. Also, I will try to put the best construction of what Basil (117) says about orthodoxy and orthopraxis, while rejecting monasticism. Yes, it did preserve Biblical manuscripts, ancient chant, beer, cheese, and scholarship, but once it served those purposes for Christianity and Western Civilization as a whole, we are better off without its confusion of vocations and confusion of salvation and works.

I love the author's unique approach to rediscovering Church Fathers by highlighting seven fathers over six chapters that focus on their strengths: taking every thought captive for Christ, preserving Christ's truth, interpreting all Scripture Christologically, seeking the Lord's forgiveness in word and sacrament, focusing on vocation and holiness in Christ, and telling the good news about Jesus. The idea is Haykin's. The paraphrases/summarize are mine. 

The second Appendix, reprinting Jaroslav Pelikan's The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) is all the more interesting considering his conversion from Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodoxy. This essay serves Haykin's purposes well.

Who were the Church Fathers and How did they shape the Church? Rediscover the answer to these questions for yourself as you read Michael Haykin's affordable introductory volume, Rediscovering the Church Fathers.

You may also wish to rediscover the Church Fathers by reading extensive writings by individual authors. Consider the following:

Theodore of Mopsuestia, born in Antioch (c. 350) and a disciple of Diodore of Tarsus, serves as one of the most important exemplars of Antiochene exegesis of his generation. Committed to literal, linguistic, grammatical and historical interpretation, he eschewed allegorical explanations that could not be supported from the text, though he was not averse to typological interpretations of Old Testament texts that were supported by the New.

Regrettably, Theodore was dragged posthumously into the Nestorian controversy, and his works were condemned by the Three Chapters and the Council of Constantinople in 553. As a result many of his theological and exegetical works were lost or destroyed. The original Greek version of his Commentary on the Gospel of John remains only in fragments. This new English translation is based on an early complete Syriac translation dated A.D. 460-465, within forty years of Theodore’s death in 428.

While charges of heterodoxy against Theodore may not be entirely justified, there remains an apparent dualism in his Christology that should be critically viewed in light of the later Chalcedonian formula. With this caution, there still remains much that is valuable for contemporary readers, whether preachers, students or lay people interested in the early church’s understanding of the Gospel of John.
Here for the first time is a complete English translation of this valuable work, ably translated by Marco Conti and edited by Joel C. Elowsky.

Ancient Christian Texts is a series of new translations, most of which are here presented in English for the first time. The series provides contemporary readers with the resources they need to study for themselves the key writings of the early church. The texts represented in the series are full-length commentaries or sermon series based on biblical books or extended scriptural passages. (publisher's website)
If anything, Theodore is guilty of dualism (e.g. p 29ff on John 2:22 and p. 140 on John 16:28). His Christology was orthodox, but not always and everywhere clearly stated. That means later readers were tempted to read into Theodore the false theology of Nestorianism. No, Scripture does NOT teach two persons of Christ, but two natures in one person as Chemnitz so extensively clarifies.

Theodore of Mopsuestia shines as an exegete when he interprets Scripture in the context of Scripture as in this exposition of John 1:29 (20):
Let us consider how Scripture usually places words in the appropriate context of facts. By saying here that this is the one who takes away the sin of the world, he did not call him "the Only Begotten Son" or "Son of God" or "the one who is close to the Father's bosom," as it appears that he had said above, although now would have seemed the right time to express the majesty of his nature in order to confirm the purpose of the things which he was about to give. But [the Baptist] did not say any of these things. Instead, he called him lamb, a name that signifies his passion...
This volume is more than worth you time.

And so is this wonderful commentary on Genesis by Severian of Gabala and Bede the Venerable paired together. 

Severian's material is presented first, as he preached them in seven homilies. Bede's commentary follows.
The church fathers displayed considerable interest in the early chapters of Genesis, and often wrote detailed commentaries or preached series of homilies on the Hexameron--the Six Days of Creation--among them Eustathius of Antioch, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ambrose, John Chrysostom and Augustine.

This volume of Ancient Christian Texts offers a first-time English translation of Severian of Gabala's In cosmogoniam and a fresh translation of a portion of Bede the Venerable's Libri quatuor in principium Genesis. Severian, bishop of Gabala in Syria, who early on was a friend of John Chrysostom, later turned against him and opposed him at the Synod of Oak in 403. Though displaying his own strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies, Severian still represents the so-called Antiochene school with its preference for literal over allegorical interpretation of texts. The text derives from the six homilies found in Migne’s Patrologia graeca, volume 56, together with a seventh homily found only in the 1613 Eton edition of John Chrysostom’s works, edited by Henry Savile, and falsely attributed to Chrysostom.  These homilies have been ably translated with explanatory notes by Robert C. Hill.

The commentary from Bede the Venerable derives from Book I of his four-book commentary on Genesis from the account of creation to the casting out of Ishmael. Bede was a polymath--teacher, computist, exegete, historian--and one of the foremost scholars from Anglo-Saxon England. As a teacher, Bede strove to hand on the tradition of the church in a form easily understood by those who might not be well educated. These early chapters in Genesis provided teaching on creation, human origins, sin and redemption. The text deriving from Corpus Christianorum Latina is ably translated with explanatory notes by Carmen Hardin. (publisher's website)
Lutherans tend to be more comfortable with the literalness of the Antioch school of Bible interpretation. Unfortunately, the translation appears at home with the JEDP school of Genesis interpretation (5). Don't let that prevent you from reading and appreciating Severian. In Homily Two, Severian comments (31) on the second day of creation, speaking of law and Gospel in the Word:
The Word of God arouses the soul's desire and envelops it in joy in a kind of joy like a kind of lamp, so as to bring luster to its reasoning, cheer its thinking, cleanse it of sin and enlighten its ideas. That is what the Word of God is like: what a whetstone is to a blade, the Word of God is to the soul. It is not a single benefit the whetstone brings to the blade; instead it first has the effect of expunging rust from it, then it thins its thickness, sharpens it when blunt, brightens it when dull, cleanses, brightens, and sharpens. 

Bede is not helpful when he comments on "Six Ages of the World" (135). It is a creative allegory and may be safely omitted.

Later, commenting on Genesis 3:15 (155), Bede shines as he extols the ongoing work of Christ in His Church, His Bride:
The woman will bruise the head of the serpent when the holy church drives away the snares of the devil and the poisonous persuasions that were discovered from the beginning, and just as if treading them under foot, the church reduces them to nothing. She will bruise the head of the serpent when she resists the pride through which Eve was deceived, having been humbled under the mighty hand of God, for "the beginning of all sin is pride." And the serpent lies in ambush for the heel when he busies himself to snatch us at the end of this present life. For "heel," which is at the end of the body, fairly designates the end of our life, because the state of the serpent, who is bruised by all who can and who never stops lying in ambush to viciously attack the feet of people, allows both interpretations figuratively.
Bede and Severian are worth reading and make good reading together, both foremost scholars in their own day and capable and eloquent expositors of their own theological schools of tradition.

Context and culture are very helpful to better understanding Scripture in its original time and place, as we listen in the place of the original hearers. Anything that can be done so that we understand things as they would helps us understand not only what the text meant first, and also what it still means in our day and age.

Pastors, preachers, and scholars are the best servants they can be to the Church when they speak where and when Scripture speaks and are silent when God's Word is silent.We have a lot to learn from our fathers in the faith, especially who Christ is and what He has done for us to win and deliver forgiveness, life and salvation to us. 

At times, we need to learn from the fathers' counter-example, when they insert opinion, bias, or speculation. Hopefully, that will help us self-edit, so that we may present Christ and Him crucified and Risen all the more clearly this Holy Week, Easter, every Sunday, and at every opportunity.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Hymnody Resurgent: Retained and Retexted

Sunday School Publishing Board, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc./GIA. Total Praise: Songs and Worship Resources for Every Generation. Nashville/Chicago: SSPB/GIA, 2011. Cloth. $18.00. (LH)

Abbington, James and Uzee Brown, Conductors. Atlanta Sings New Wine in Old Wineskins. Chicago: GIA, 2011. Audio 2-CD set. $25.95. (H)

Our friends at GIA recently shared with us some of their recent publications. We offer our review of them together.

A new hymnal is an important resource in the life of a church body, whether The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod or the National Baptist Convention. The LCMS introduced Lutheran Service Book in 2006. GIA and the NBC USA Sunday School Publishing Board introduced Total Praise in 2011.

From humble beginnings in 1880 with only 151 delegates, and in spite of several major splits, the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. remains the largest black Baptist convention, counting millions of members from churches, district associations and state conventions across the Continental United States and around the world.

Go to for this body's articles of faith.


Total Praise

Songs and Other Worship Resources for Every Generation

In the pages of Total Praise: Songs and Other Worship Resources for Every Generation, you will find a multi-faceted worship tool for your traditional or modern-day service. Ideal for pastors, choir directors, praise teams, and the assemblies they lead, this hymnal is great for anyone striving to give glory to God!

Total Praise
  • 569 traditional and contemporary songs
  • 52 Responsive Readings-one for every Sunday of the year
  • 46 Litanies-Designed for special days throughout the year, such as Church Anniversaries, Advent, Singles Ministry, etc.
  • Extensive indexes to find just the right music
  • The best new songs, including the music of Richard Smallwood, Kurt Carr, and others
  • Music of all styles: hymns, spirituals, historic and modern gospel, and praise and worship music
  • Special Features—including the Church Covenant and Articles of Faith
Much more than a hymnal, this is a landmark publication that enables the people of God everywhere to offer Total Praise!

Co-Published by GIA Publications, Inc. and the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

(GIA website)
$18.00 is a good price point for a new hymnal for church, choir, home, and school.

GIA has expanded beyond its Gregorian and Roman Catholic roots as a publisher to include various hymnals for other denominations ( as well as new ones designed for use with the new Roman Missal (

Total Praise retains historic African-American and Baptist hymnody. There is only a modest overlap with Lutheran Service Book, as there was with The Baptist Hymnal/The Worship Hymnal,  produced by the Southern Baptist Convention and previously reviewed by QBR. That review serves as inspiration for the following paragraphs.

Hymns and songs from the 19th and 20th Centuries appear to dominate the volume.
Total Praise gives evidence of honest differences in theology and practice between Lutherans in the LCMS and Baptists in the NBC. We have many hymns in common, but that number is noticeably shrinking.
I was honestly surprised to note that so few hymns referred to Baptism in a Baptist hymnal (653-661, Ordinance/Baptism). It was pleasing to note so many hymns about who Jesus is and what He has done for us (165-304).
The Life in Christ section begins with hymns on "Salvation/Invitation and Acceptance," teaching a traditional Arminian emphasis, “decision.” I would respectfully remind all Christians of Jesus’ words in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”
Some hymns with a distinct Lutheran pedigree are found within: “A Mighty Fortress” (119), “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (242), and the Ronald Nelson setting of BEACH SPRING (661)
I was pleased to see "For All the Saints" (339), The Lord Bless You/Sevenfold Amen (622), and Gloria Patril (640) set to the Old Scottish Chant Lutherans know from the "page 15" Gloria.
Lutherans familiar with LSB will note "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" (478). 
There is nothing like a hymnal to give one insight into a church body's doctrine and practice. 
The Sunday School Publishing Board (SSPB) is the official publisher of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. We serve more than 36,000 churches within our constituency and offer resources for African-American, multicultural, and diverse churches seeking sound curriculum, Bible study materials, and spiritual growth and discipleship resources to meet their needs. Our Faith Series Sunday school curriculum, S.E.E.D. discipleship series, Total Praise hymnal collection, and Vacation Bible School (VBS) materials are just a few of the product lines developed for enriching the spiritual growth and development of students of all ages, teachers, and those serving in leadership.
This appears to be a body open to the ordination of women contrary to the New Testament, yet willing to carry forward its own long hymnic tradition.
I appreciate the opportunity to live with and sing through Total Praise the last few months. I welcome conversation with other Christians on why they retain what they retain from their tradition at worship and how and why they choose to add both old and new Christian song from every time and place that confesses the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

Our series, Hymnody Resurgent, has largely focused on "retuned" hymns, where new tunes are provided for historic Christian hymn texts. The following CD and same-title resources feature "retexted" hymnody, new texts supported by old tunes.

Atlanta Sings New Wine in Old Wineskins features the church choirs of Ben Hill United Methodist, Big Bethel African American Episcopal, First Congregational, Friendship Baptist, Radcliffe Presbyterian, and Uzee Brown Society of Choraliers under the direction of James Abbington and Uzee Brown.

Some of the finest choirs in Atlanta teamed up at Cannon Chapel on the campus of Emory University to record excerpts from New Wine in Old Wineskins, Vols 1 & 2.

Conductors James Abbington and Uzee Brown highlight many soon-to-be classics in our worship and devotional time.

Familiar songs include: I Am Kept by the Grace of God; Thank You for Hearing Our Prayer; O Lord, Fix Me; Renew in Me a Right Spirit; Christ Is for Losers; As We Enter; and Oh, Give Thanks. 
(Publisher's website)

In addition to the CD, sheet music/supplements and mp3 audio downloads are available from GIA.

I did not have the sheet music (melody or texts) available to me for this review. Track 1:10, "The Lord's Prayer" may have the most potential for choral/solo use among Lutherans. FINLANDIA (Track 1:11, "When Memory Fades") may be the most familiar tune to me on either CD. I personally though the tempo on that hymn was rather slow.

Highly contextual language may communicate well in one time or place, but it may be easily be misunderstood (e.g., "Christ Is for Losers") or could be considered dated.

Much of the song presented in these two resources was totally new to me. Texts, as I overheard them, were consistent with the message of hymn titles that focused on hope, joy, salvation, and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, our Lord. I can imagine how fun it would have been to be part of the choirs on this recording!

I am a son of The Lutheran Hymnal that has been taught the treasures of Lutheran Worship, Worship Supplement, Hymnal Supplement 98, and Lutheran Service Book

I am a student of hymnology and welcome the hard, time-consuming work of discovering what would be worthy to sing in Lutheran Worship at Divine Service and in the Daily Office. We at QBR will continue to listen to new hymn texts and tunes, new tunes for historic texts, and new texts for historic tunes. 

Nagel writes, "We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who ent before and, in making the tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day--the living heritage and something new."

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Liturgy and Hymnody Review: 1982 in 2012

Musical Settings for Noonday and Compline. New York: Church Publishing, 2002. 31 Pages. Saddle stitched. $30 for 10 copies. (L)

Glover, Raymond F., Editor. Hymnal 1982 Companion (Four Volumes: Volume One: Essays on Church Music; Volume Two Service Music and Biographies;  Volume Three A: Hymns 1 to 384; Volume Three B: Hymns 385 to 720). New York: Church Publishing, 1990, 1994, and 1994. 764, 749, and 1392 Pages. $210 for the set. (LH)

Why is a liturgical Lutheran worship book review blog reveiwing a hymnal companion for a thirty-year-old Episcopal hymnal?

It is still relevant. And useful. And it provides more "companion" information on hymns and canticles and liturgical music found in Lutheran hymnals than the official companions published to date for those hymnals.

A case in point: Volume Two provides information on S 204 Canticle 6: Glory be to God Gloria in excelsis, more commonly known in LCMS and Synodical Conference services as the "page 15" Gloria. Yes, we may have known it was "Anglican Chant," but did you know it was Scottish? See pages 156-161 for more on this ABCA setting originally composed for the Te Deum. Now, it is inseparable from the Christmas song of the Angels in Lutheran Service Book Divine Service Setting Three.

The complete four-volume set includes major essays and relevant discussions of the musical forms in The Hymnal 1982 which cover such topics as popular religious song, cultural diversity, the relationship between The Hymnal 1982 and the liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer, the development of service music in the Episcopal Church, hymn forms, and a brief history of Christian hymnody in the United States and Britain. In addition, complete information is given on all hymns and service music which includes the sources of text and music as well as biographical and technical facts. (2,949 pp)
(Publisher's website)
We have yet to have something this comprehensive, available, and affordable in Lutheranism. 

Volume One focuses on Essays on Church Music. Our own Carl Schalk writes the chapter on German Church Song (288ff). Robin Leaver enlightens us on the nearly-forgotten English Metrical Psalmody (321ff), a good example and resource for today's Church and Christian composers, as well as British Hymnody from the Sixteenth Through the Eighteenth Centuries (365ff). Paul Westermeyer writes about Hymnody in the United States from the Civil War to World War I (447ff), including the popular, yet problematic song of revivalism (455), and the transition of Lutheranism to English (462).

Jaroslav Vajda appears because of his own hymn texts and a helpful "Hymn Writing Self-Evaluating Checklist" he shared in conjunction with a 1987 Hymn Society of America conference (606). Also of interest will be Appendix A, "a philosophy for hymnal revision adopted in early 1981 by the Standing Commission on Church Music" (637).

Volume Two (Service Music and Biographies), as noted above, is useful to better understand the wide variety, many options, and long history in Anglicanism of supporting the Book of Common Prayer with liturgical song, chant, and hymnody. 
 Users should note that this volume gives performance, theological, and musical background on canticles and antiphons not included in the Hymnal 1982 pew edition, but primarily in the accompaniment editions for musicians.

I particularly appreciated information on Eastern chant (e.g., S 288). The music of Compline (S 331, et al) is sourced to the Lieber Usualis, previously reviewed in QBR. (Keep reading for more about Compline below.)

Biographies are extensive in the remainder of the volume, including many Lutheran composers and hymnwriters. Bios tend to be briefer than what should be standard in hymnal companions, though comparable to LCMS hymnal companions for TLH, LW, and Hymnal Supplement 98.

The strength of The Hymnal 1982 Companion is actually the second half of this encyclopedic set, Volume Three A and Volume Three B, covering hymns 1 to 720. (Users will note the helpful errata and corrigenda supplement, especially for the original printed text and music of Hymn 687, A mighty fortress is our God, though this substitute example belongs on page 1274 rather than the indicated page 1282.)

Lutheran users will be edified by more information about 417, This is the feast of victory for our God, set to FESTIVAL CANTICLE by Richard Hillert (784ff).

Just this last Sunday (Lent 4), our Hymn of the Day/Office Hymn was My song is love unknown (458/LSB 430) set to Ireland's stunning and sturdy LOVE UNKNOWN (457).

Hymnal companions are noted for giving original texts, sometimes missing stanzas in translation, and explanations of the historical setting, theological perspective, and changes in a hymn text and tune(s). I love hymnals and learning more about hymnody of other traditions, discovering why such hymns or tunes are or are not part of Lutheran worship. 

Want to see a hymn of 53 stanzas in the original Latin? (127, p. 262ff). 

Consider studying 207 Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia! set to EASTER HYMN (in Latin, German, and English) as part of your preparation to celebrate the resurrection of Christ  (414ff).

We at QBR were also interested to see the 2002/1988 liturgical supplement to The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982, Musical Settings for Noonday and Compline.

A handy booklet for singing the Noonday Office and Compline containing appropriate hymns, psalms, lessons, responsories, etc. Especially useful for camps and conference centers. (31 pp, pkg. of 10) 
(Publisher's website)
While Wonder Love and Praise (1997) gave additional hymns and some service music (721-906), this booklet, sold in packs of 10 for group use, focuses on one of the neat innovations of H82, office hymns for noonday. The major offices had famous and still well-known hymns set to a variety of tunes. H82 dared to propose new hymns for the minor offices set to traditional tunes.

Both services may be prayed alone, but I find them to be more personally edifying in groups of two, three or more. As with any song from another tradition, these will sound slightly foreign at first, hence the ideal of praying them together with those who know them well. Hopefully, updated versions of the entire office will be included in an updated The Hymnal 20??.  At the very least, I have picked up some hymn and chant ideas that will further complement Lutheran Service Book's resources.

What does the future hold? A combined United Methodist, PCUSA, Episcopal, and ELCA publishing house? Will there be a common hymnal? Perhaps not. But there will likely always be a common hymn heritage among Christians in the United States.

Lutherans and Anglicans have profitably borrowed from one another since Reformation times. The first Book of Common Prayer shows a marked Lutheran influence (which waned in later editions). When Lutherans began singing in English using historic liturgies, they borrowed Anglican forms and Anglican chant. The durability and continued use of Matins and Divine Service Setting Four in Lutheran Service Book testify to the longevity and benefit of this borrowing.

Although much in theology and practice separate the Episcopal Church and its ecumenical partners including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America from us in The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod,  The Hymnal 1982 Companion is the most comprehensive resource out there...for now.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Pulpit Review: More Matthew

Kellerman, James A. Translator. Edited by Thomas C. Oden. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Incomplete Commentary on Matthew (Opus imperfectum) Volume 1 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 213 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (P)

Kelllerman, James A. Translator. Edited by Thomas C. Oden. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Incomplete Commentary on Matthew (Opus imperfectum) Volume 2 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 228 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (P)

Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 11:2-20:34 (Concordia Commentary.) St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 584 Pages. Cloth. $42.99. (LHP)

Pastorally, I use the Gospel according to Matthew as the structure for my Adult Catechesis. 

I preach using the Three-Year Lectionary. Matthew is a regular feature every three years.

I am thankful for these volumes on Matthew by Concordia and InterVarsity.

In the translator's introduction to this volume, James Kellerman relates the following story:
As Thomas Aquinas was approaching Paris, a fellow traveler pointed out the lovely buildings gracing that city. Aquinas was impressed, to be sure, but he sighed and stated that he would rather have the complete Incomplete Commentary on Matthew than to be mayor of Paris itself.

Thomas's affection for the work attests its great popularity during the Middle Ages, despite its significant missing parts--everything beyond the end of Matthew 25, with further gaps of Matthew 8:11--10:15 and 13:14--18:35. Although there are gaps, what remains is quite lengthy, so much so that we offer the work in two volumes, comprising fifty-four homilies.

While the early-fifth-century author displays a few Arian propensities in a handful of passages, for the most part the commentary is moral in nature and therefore orthodox and generic. The unknown author, who for several centuries was thought to be John Chrysostom, follows the allegorizing method of the Alexandrians, but not by overlooking the literal meaning. His passion, above all, is to set forth the meaning of Matthew's Gospel for his readers.

Here, for the first time, this ancient work is made available in English, ably translated by James A. Kellerman and edited by Thomas C. Oden. (publisher's website)
My main critique of these Matthew volumes of Ancient Christian Texts is the price point. I understand the need to financially support ongoing patristics research and make the books more durable in hardcover, but I pray IVP would make more affordable editions available in the US in addition to making them available around the world. Yes, there is likely a demographically smaller audience for these commentaries than for the ACCS, but I do not wish that price would make this monumental series sell less well than it could.

Yes, there are gaps in this incomplete commentary on Matthew. This set of sermon/commentaries in print is still worth your time. In fact, I am amazed it has taken this long to make this work available for the first time in English.

I uncomfortably hear praise of the monastic, unmarried "ideal" in the author's sermon on Matthew 4 (1:63). The editor warns you of Arian tendencies. Now, draw out the author at his creative best, restating the obvious truth of the Scripture (e.g., Matthew 12:40, 2:237) in an engaging way:
Consequently, through the mystery of this likeness both Jonah is reckoned to have been a prophet through Christ and Christ is shown to be the Son of God through Jonah. What is that I just said? unless Christ had come into the world and fulfilled those things that were spoken by the prophets, there was not complete certainty about them that they wee truly prophets. For also those who are deemed to be telling the future are not immediately thought to be diviners, but only when they have completed those things that have been said. And so Christ was born after the prophets, but he offered this gift to the prophets before him and afterwards he received it from them. Thus Christ shows by his deeds that they were prophets because they show him to be the Son of God in their words. For in the book of Sirach he implores the coming of Christ in this way: "Bear witness to those who you have created in the beginning, and fulfill the prophecies spoken in your name. Reward those who wait for you, and let your prophets be found trustworthy." For unless he had shown them to be prophets, they could not believe Christ. How could he give testimony about another before he himself was shown to be an adequate witness?
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Our next commentary on Matthew is still technically and temporarily an "opus imperfectum," in that a final volume featuring chapters 21 and following has yet to be published. I hope to see it, personally, by the time Matthew is featured in Year A of the Three-Year Lectionary.

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By way of introduction to the author of the Matthew volumes of Concordia Commentary, and since it is not (yet) available (again) on this blog, we are reprinting our review of Gibbs' Matthew 1:1-11:1 volume from Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review Volume 1, Issue 3, Apostles’ Tide, 2007:

Pulpit Book Review

Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Concordia Commentary: Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia, 2006. 547 pages. Cloth. $42.99. (800) 325-3040. (P)

Just in time for Year A of the LSB Three-Year Lectionary, Concordia Publishing House has released the first part of the long-awaited Matthew volumes of Concordia Commentary. Hopefully, the remainder of Matthew will appear before the First Sunday of Advent 2007. Users of the One-Year Lectionary will find this commentary useful every year.

“Matthew's Gospel presents Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ long promised in the Old Testament. To interpret it, author Jeffrey Gibbs employs a narrative approach that examines the literary structure of Matthew's unfolding message and interprets individual texts with a careful eye to their relationship to that overall structure.


“Gibbs expounds the Gospel in light of the original context and audience for whom Matthew wrote. The themes that have received particular emphasis include:
+ Jesus' mission to save His people from their sins
+ The reign of God in Jesus
+ The Son of God's vicarious role as substitute for Israel and for us
+ Jesus' fulfillment of the Old Testament
+ Jesus' ministry of mighty word (preaching, calling disciples, teaching) and mighty deed (healing the sick, exorcizing, raising the dead)
+ How God's grace in Jesus now comes to us through Word and Sacrament;
+ Eschatology—that the end times have begun already with Jesus' ministry and the Christian
lives with joyful hope in the promises yet to be fulfilled on the Last Day” (publisher’s website).

My seminary experience would have been much different without Dr. Gibbs. He taught me Greek, Hermeneutics, and the Gospel According to St. Matthew. I was the guy in the back row of our Greek class that got to answer all of the questions Professor Gibbs couldn’t by saying, “That is undoubtedly due to the historical development of the Greek language.” And a good time was had by all. 

Dr. Gibbs has in mind as his “average reader” a “theologically conservative pastor, perhaps a clergyman of my own church body…” See page 28 of his very helpful Introduction to see Gibbs’ proposed solution to the “synoptic problem.”

In class and in print Dr. Gibbs is an advocate for the beneficial aspects of narrative criticism, much like his Doktorvater, Jack Dean Kingsbury, author of Matthew as Story. Gibbs tries to read and comment upon Matthew’s Gospel “as its implied reader” (35).

Why does Gibbs see “three major blocks” in Matthew, “which extend from 1:1 to 4:16, from 4:17 to 16:20, and from 16:21 to 28:20”? Begin reading on page 40.

Who is Matthew’s Audience? An interesting part of Dr. Gibbs’ answer is in note 20 on page 6: “Scaer, Discourses in Matthew, 48-70, argues strongly that Matthew’s Gospel reflects the shape of early Christian catechesis that would lead unbaptized catechumens to the point of their Baptism into Christ. While this is not impossible, in my estimation he has not shown that the structure of Matthew reflects this movement…Scaer also acknowledges that catechesis is not the only purpose for which Matthew wrote his Gospel (p. 18).”

See page 47 for an explanation of why the familiar phrase “kingdom of Heaven” is rendered “Reign of Heaven” and is a major theme in Matthew. Other themes include “Fulfillment” and “Mission.” With regard to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Gibbs writes, “…the two testaments have an essential unity and that the disciples of Jesus should never read the OT without asking the question, ‘How does this passage ultimately point me to Jesus of  Nazareth?’…those who reject Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God cannot read it aright, at least not in the most important ways, and with regard to its central message” (54). Helpful insights for preaching, indeed. What is the “basis for judgment on the Last Day”? The “acceptance or rejection of Jesus’ missionaries, which is tantamount to the acceptance or rejection of the Good News of God’s reign in Jesus” (58-59).

As with other volumes in the Concordia Commentary series, Gibbs provides the Pericope citation, a Translation by the Author, Textual Notes, and Commentary. There are no examples of an excursus in this volume, for topics such as the genealogy of Jesus are integrated into the structure of Matthew itself. See page 93ff for “Two Possible Solutions” of the problem of the Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 genealogies. For a proposed harmony of Matthew 2 and Luke 2, see pages 145-150.

The collects and hymnody of the church (including references to Lutheran Service Book) are referenced in the discussion of Jesus’ Baptism (195, notes 36-38).

“The Beatitudes…for a sort of ‘doorway’ through which Matthew’s readers/hearers must pass if they are to grasp aright the Lord’s great teaching in the Sermon” (237).

What about divorce on the basis of Matthew 5? “…Jesus’ teaching…must be interpreted in harmony with other NT passages. The section cannot be read as literal and comprehensive. To repeat the point, Jesus’ teaching is not legal, case law material…” (278).

For insight into the Lord’s Prayer, especially the Sixth Petition, be sure to read pages 317ff and 338ff. There are many neat insights in the footnotes. Don’t miss them. “Why did the demons want to enter the pigs?” (450, note 11). For a little humor from St. Augustine, read note 25 on page 523.

So many commentaries today show their Reformed bias by ignoring clear sacramental references. I love a commentary that takes the Scriptures, Book of Concord, Martin Luther, and hymnody and worship life of the church seriously. This is scholarship that is knowledgeable and faithful, knowledgeable about other positions out there, yet faithful to divine truth and in the service of the Gospel.

“Jeffrey A. Gibbs is professor of exegetical theology (New Testament) at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, where he has taught since 1992. Previously, he served as a parish pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church, St. Helens, Oregon (1979-1986), and Grace Lutheran Church, Scappoose, Oregon (1979-1989). Dr. Gibbs is a graduate of Rice University, Houston, Texas (B.A., 1974), and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana (M. Div., 1979), where he also earned the S.T.M. in 1988. His Ph.D. in biblical studies is from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Richmond, Virginia (1995)…His revised dissertation, Jerusalem and Parousia: Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel, was published by Concordia Publishing House in 2000. Dr. Gibbs is the New Testament editor of Concordia Commentary: A Theological Exposition of Sacred Scripture” (book jacket).

Evangelically understood, this should be “required reading.” Concordia Commentary: Matthew is an heirloom commentary, part of an heirloom commentary series.

As of this writing, the first printing of this volume has been sold out. Visit for current availability. This is a commentary with preaching pastors in mind and may also serve you as a wonderful devotional resource on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. I eagerly await the upcoming CC volumes mentioned by CPH in its Convention Workbook report to synod: Jonah, Matthew 11:2-28:20, and Ezekiel 21:48.

I appreciate the overview sections Gibbs gives (e.g., "Themes in Matthew 11:2-16:20," 551) that put pericopes in a larger context. His treatment of how Isaiah 42:1-4 is quoted in Matthew 12:18-21 (622-623) is very helpful to understanding the work of the Servant in the "reign of heaven."

What is the unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:22-37)? "Nothing More or Less Than Ongoing Rejection of Jesus" (644ff). How does the author handle the sensitive topic of the brothers and sisters of Jesus (13:53-58)? Sensitively. And he concludes:
....I also hold to the classical Christology that is entailed by giving to Mary the title "mother of God." I concur with the Lutheran Confessions, in which Mary is rightly acclaimed as the mother of God precisely because of the divinity of her Son...(736)
Readers will get a preview of Gibbs' treatment of the Lord's Supper on page 791, as Matthew 15:29-38 provides obvious parallels with Matthew 26.

The Third Part of Matthew will carry us from Matthew 16:21 through 28:20 (827ff, plus the final volume). The remainder of this volume of Gibbs' Matthew commentary covers "Three Passion Predictions and the Disciples' Incomprehension."

I commend the author for a pithy, truthful, and Matthew 18-based apologia for Infant Baptism (902ff) and his "Reflection and Application: When Divorce Is Never God's Will" (956ff, especially 959).

This reviewer prays for Concordia Commentary: Matthew 21:1-28:20 to be released in time for Advent 2013-2014, the next time Year A shows up in the Three-Year Lectionary Series. Of course, those who use the Historic One-Year Series in Wyoming District and elsewhere will find the volumes of Concordia Commentary: Matthew helpful every year.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.