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Thursday, March 22, 2012

CPH and the books of Walther, "Reader's Edition" (Part 3)

(see previous posts Part 1 and Part 2)
And finally another problem I have with CPH's offerings is the proper title of Walther's best known work of today.  In the original German, the title is "Die rechte Unterscheidung von Gesetz und Evangelium." In English, it used to be titled "The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel" but their version shortens it to "Law and Gospel".   Although I do not fault the practice of abbreviating, yet this abbreviation strips Walther's work of it's real beauty -- "The Proper Distinction".  Walther was the master of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel.  Practically all so-called Christian writers can write about "Law and Gospel".   But only Walther could properly distinguish them because he taught the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification (the Gospel) purely!

Now Publisher Rev. McCain of CPH may object to this last protestation saying they also now have a "Reader's Edition" (see here and here) with a fresh translation of this work of Walther, going back to even Walther's handwritten lecture notes instead of the student transcriptions of his lectures.  I have spent some time now with their promotional materials for this relatively new book... the audio file of a KFUO broadcast and a sample file of 182 pages of the full 708 page book.  I notice that the 4 reviews of the book on Amazon all have 5 stars and most reviewers seem to understand the magnitude of this work... high praise for not only Walther himself but also the editors and translator. I see that CPH even has currently a sale price (through May 31, 2012) of only $19.99, quite a bargain for such a significant book.  I commend them for this effort and pricing. May it be for a true honoring of C.F.W. Walther!

How I envy Christian C. Tiews, the translator!!  He can read the old German as I can read English which means he does not have to struggle like I do when dealing with the fraktur font and a language that is foreign to me.  How hard I have had to work to figure out how to OCR and translate the volumes of old German Missouri Synod works!  I blame today's modern English LC-MS in part for my lack of German language knowledge.  Why?  Because the departure it made from the old German language was swift and thorough.  And this departure is a testimony to the truth that Pieper spoke of - the use of the German language in America helped them to keep the doctrine pure.

One hopes that Mr. Tiews will continue to translate more of the previously untranslated works of Walther such as Kern und Stern (Book of Concord), Brosamen or Licht des Lebens, and Pieper's works such as his essay Christianity in Its Relation to All Other Religions  from the 1926 Synod or his essay to Kansas District in 1892 entitled The Practical Importance of the Right Distinction of Law and Gospel. As an incentive, I can furnish you the complete digital text of all these old German Missouri Synod books... and much more.

But dear editors Schaum, Hellwege Jr., Manteufel and translator Tiews, did you know there is a better book than yours to get to know Walther's theology?  It is my publication of Franz Pieper's Walther as Theologian (Walther als Theolog), translated by the great Wallace McLaughlin.  Also Pieper's Christian Dogmatics...  As I wrote to Professor Eugene Klug (link here), I would not call Walther "Mr. Law and Gospel", but rather first and foremost "Mr. Universal, Objective Justification"!  Why?  Because all praise and knowledge of Christ, the sacraments, Scripture, and yes, even Law and Gospel is nothing unless you believe UOJ, that is Universal, Objective Justification, that is ... the Gospel itself.  This is where your synod has become heterodox.

I heartily agree with the editor's criticisms of W.H.T. Dau's translation work. Yet the reader of Dau's volume "The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel" can get essentially all of Walther's intended message even with the mediocre translation.  Despite the "Reader's Edition" case against Dau's translation, yet let the reader who has this old book not despair that he has been mislead, since Walther's teaching is so clear that not even Dau can muddle it too much.  As you read Dau's book, just ignore any and all forwards, introductions, and footnotes that presume to judge Walther's theology.

And let the reader not despair that they may not be able to visit Concordia Historical Institute (CHI) to get the real doctrine of Walther and Pieper, for their teaching is clear enough, even in the English translations that are available... even from today's Concordia Publishing House!

I will have more to say on CPH and the books of Walther and Pieper.

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