Friday, July 11, 2014

LHP Review: Commentary on Luther's Catechisms




Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Creed (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 588 Pages. Paper. $42.99. http://www.cph.org/ (P)


Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Lord's Prayer (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 222 Pages. Paper. $42.99. http://www.cph.org/ (P)

Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Baptism and Lord's Supper Commandments (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 248 Pages. Paper. $42.99. http://www.cph.org/ (P)

Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Confession and Christian Life (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 280 Pages. Paper. $42.99. (On sale: $36.99.) http://www.cph.org/ (P)


We rejoice in the completion of the publication of Albrecht Peter's Commentary on Luther's Catechisms. Let's return to portions of our review of the first volume on the Ten Commandments:

In accordance with LCMS governing documents, and since Albrecht Peters made regular use of historical-critical methods of interpretation (10, 56, et al) a "Surgeon General's Warning box" appears on the copyright page (4). It reads:

This material is being released for study and discussion purposes, and the author is solely responsible for its contents. It has not been submitted to the process for doctrinal review stipulated in the Bylaws of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and odes not necessarily reflect the theology of the Lutheran Confessions or the doctrinal position of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.
Is the book worth it for the publisher to go ahead and publish and the reader to buy and read? Most certainly!

Consider our ongoing discussion about "graven images" with the Reformed, (mentioned in a parallel review). Peters explains the history behind this seeming "skip" over the text of R2/L1B. Consider Augustine and all of the iconoclastic controversies of Christian history (141ff). He lays out a convincing case for Christian teaching and practice.

I will grant Peters his insights and thank the Lord for them, but like CPH and the aforementioned LCMS Bylaw language, I will not share with those whom I teach his false JEDP musings (Deuteronomist, 141), nor a partition of prophetic books (Deutero-Isaiah, 145). What God has joined together, let not man separate!

Peters excels in organizing his thought and that of Luther. Chapters share a common structure:
  • Wording of the Commandment, Interpretation, (and Arrangement in the Large Catechism)
  • Characteristics of Luther's Interpretation
  • Texts by Luther on the same topic
  • Other helpful Bibliography
The German Edition of Commentary on Luther's Catechisms by Albrecht Peters has long been the gold standard of research on the catechetical texts of the great reformer. This translation makes the wealth of research available in English for both the researcher and the catechist. This is the first of five volumes. 

Future volumes with address the Decalogue, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacraments, and Confession with the Table of Duties, Prayers, and the Marriage and Baptismal Booklets.  (publisher's website)
Let's proceed with a fresh review of the rest.
The German Edition of Commentary on Luther's Catechisms by Albrecht Peters has long been the gold standard of research on the catechetical texts of the great reformer. This translation makes the wealth of research available in English for both the researcher and the catechist.  
Foreword by Gottfried Seebass
Translated by Holger K. Sonntag, Thomas H. Trapp, and Daniel Thies
Separate volumes address the Decalogue, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Sacraments, and Confession with the Table of Duties, prayers, and the Marriage and Baptismal Booklets. 
Let's take the volumes one by one. My focus will be on the kind of insights you will gain from buying, owning, and studying each volume in the series.

Luther is responsible for our modern approach to the Apostles' Creed, in that we see three instead of twelve articles (33). Peters contrasts Imago Dei with Imago Satanae (95ff). Page 112ff give an outline of the Creed section of Luther's Large Catechism. Learn how "prophet, priest, and king" came together as a phrase (120ff). Consider Christ "for us" (134), a liturgical Christology (163), and Luther's comment on supposed marriage between humans and gods (167). Read four insights on the Third article (216ff). Conclude by learning why "Christian" is a translation of catholica (268ff).

Read about "The Lord's Prayer as Defensive and Offensive Weapon Against Satan" (22ff), the source of the content and pattern of the "What does this mean?" questions (60ff), refuge in baptism and references of Church Fathers (151), and a treatment of the 6th and 7th petitions as a double petition (173ff).

Consider "promise and faith" as Luther's guides to add Bible wording and teaching of the two Sacraments to the Western catechetical tradition (1ff, 27ff, passim), "The Gift of the Saving Work of Christ under Word and Sacrament (43ff), "The Faith of the Church and the Particular Faith of a Child at Baptism (122ff), and the author's insights on Luther's two front war of catechesis against both Roman and Reformed (198ff, passim).

This volume reminds the reader of the enormity of Peters' work: "he examined each of the later editions, the various expositions on Confession and Absolution, the Household Responsibilities, the Marriage Booklet and the Baptismal Booklet, as well as Luther's Household Prayers, which included the Morning and Evening Blessings and prayers before and after meals" (xiii). Sometimes the chapter titles are enlightening: "Individual Confession and Absolution as the Proper Form for the Office of the Keys" (3). Often, insights are highlighted in section headings: "Restructuring Private Confession and Absolution to Become an Exercise in Law and Gospel" (82). I loved reading about Luther's source material for prayer (235-251), my favorite chapter of the whole book and set!
 

I am not aware of any other resource even remotely like this set, so order the entire five-volume set of Peters' Commentary on Luther's Catechisms!


LHP QBR reviewed the first volume of this set back in 2010:
http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2010/11/pulpit-review-ten-commandments.html



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