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Friday, May 18, 2012

Pieper & Walther on... diligent reading of Luther (Part 6)

In this installment of this series (after Part 5, beginning with Part 1), we summarize a point in Pieper's article in CTM, volume 1, page 84.  Pieper and Walther now cover the importance of reading Luther:
With respect to diligent reading of Luther, Walther advised:  "You should make it a rule to read something every day from Luther's writings, and flee to them particularly if you feel dry, tired, despondent, sad, helpless and miserable, and then choose especially the letters for your awakening, strengthening and refreshing. One should make his edition of Luther so well known that any writing can be found without a lot of time-consuming lookup."  "One spares his copy of Luther too much.  Those who used up their Erlanger edition in their lifetime have wasted nothing."  The same is also true of our St. Louis Edition. 
Upon Pieper's advice, we should now all go out and buy the "St. Louis Edition" of Luther's writings, right?  Oops, it's in the German language and in the fraktur font to boot.  I blame the today's (English) LC-MS in part (and Satan for two World Wars against Germany) that so few know any of the German language (or Latin).   My parents only spoke German to each other to hide their conversation from their children.  No thought was ever given to teaching their children the language of Luther.  As for the fraktur font, it was outlawed by the great "Lutheran" Third Reich.  Did I get that right, modern history?

Anyway, the venerable "St. Louis Edition" is only available in some libraries in the world.  So how do I occasionally link to images from this edition?  Because I scanned all 23 volumes and have digital images of every page!  (This is only a fraction of what I have scanned.)  Why would I do this?  Because it is the St. Louis Edition (updated Walch Edition) so ignored by the modern LC-MS, that I consider it to be the definitive edition of the works of Martin Luther.  O yea, there is the great scholarly Weimar edition (WA - Weimar Ausgabe) from Germany which could contain possibly more of the obscure writings of Luther and perhaps a few more obscure historical notes, maybe even helps on language usage.  This is the edition found in most public libraries that carries the German editions.  But the St. Louis Edition is from the institution that knew Luther the best... the old (German) Missouri Synod!  Their comments have much more spiritual weight than those of modern Germany. There is more on this subject of editions by James Swan in his blog Beggars All.

So what are Americans like me to do?  We live in the country where true Lutheranism fled to, away from the apostasy of Germany.  We now know only English (thanks LC-MS).  So we must turn to the whatever English translation we can get for Luther's writings.  A shortened view of Luther can be gained by CPH publication What Luther Says by Ewald Plass (but watch out for modern judgments on Luther). The more complete (yet not complete) is largely the unionistic project between Augsburg/Fortress Press and Concordia Publishing House that is called the American Edition of Luther's Works. Many libraries carry it. There are various other sources... Google, Amazon, and the Internet will all help.  But be aware of the misuse of Luther. And especially beware of all modern judgments of Luther by any translators or editors.
Part 7 follows — on the use of Luther for difficult theological questions.

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