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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Triglotta– Pieper- English language? (4e); Amish analogy

This continues from Part 4d reviewing the newly available book Concordia Triglotta from CPH. (See Table of Contents here)  This Part 4e continues my translation of Franz Pieper's essay on the appearance of the original book in 1921.  Pieper had just beautifully defended against the attacks of German theologians, who claimed differences between Martin Luther and the Lutheran Confessions, when he opened up the topic of languages.

Pieper's essay is indented. My interspersed comments are in green
Underlining is in the original.  Highlighting is mine. 
Hyperlinks added including page links to original essay in Google Books.
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"Concordia Triglotta"
by Franz Pieper
Lehre und Wehre, vol. 67 (1921), pgs 297-301
(continued from Part 4d)

German?  English?  Which language to choose?  Pieper proceeds...

The fact that the Triglotta also presents the English text of the Lutheran Confessions besides the Latin and German, should not draw the accusation that we want to hastily turn the American Lutheran Church into an English oneWe hold, as it befits a Synod in principle, that the Church of God does not serve the language, but the language is to serve the Church.  We engage ourselves in each language which serves the doctrines of the Gospel.  In India we speak Indian, in China, Chinese.  Here in America we speak German where one understands German the best, English where the English language is understood the best or is preferred.  We also do not refuse, as everyone knows, to speak in some Slavic languages.  We so-called Missourians are now here in America, where English has taken root for a long time as the national language.  So we owe our wonderful Lutheran confessional writings in English to both those within and those outside the Lutheran Church.

A careful reading of this paragraph reveals that there were some in the old (German) Missouri Synod who resisted the changeover from German to English for the wrong reason... perhaps nationalism. Pieper squashes this thought with the imperative that 
"the Church of God does not serve the language, but the language is to serve the Church"
The question might then be: 
"Why did the old (German) Missouri Synod hang on to the German language so long in America?"
Pieper answered that question above and elsewhere by saying that the language to use is the "language which serves the doctrines of the Gospel."  Two World Wars have sadly pushed this question far too quickly.  And so the German language for me, a full German descendant, is totally foreign...  the language of Luther and the Reformation is outside my comprehension, and so probably for most of today's American Lutheran pastors... and probably so even for many of the Lutheran teachers.  Thank God the old (German) Missouri Synod produced the Concordia Triglotta (with an authoritative English translation) before the old Missouri was superseded by today's LC-MS.  And thank God they produced all 3 languages synchronized in 3 parallel columns so one can see, compare, and reference the old original languages.  

There is a religious group today that is partially analogous to the old (German) Missouri Synod – the Amish, and others like them – the "old order" societies.  Along with maintaining the old farming practices, they maintain the old German language among themselves.  One of their stated reasons for maintaining a separation from modern society is to maintain separation from "the English".  On the face of it, they have been successful, and so modern society by the millions go to visit their areas to get a taste of the "old ways".  Their lifestyle is now so popular that the Discovery Channel even attempts to cash in with a sensationalistic depiction of them ("Amish Mafia"), a depiction that is widely discredited.  One wonders that if the German language was still evident in today's LC-MS in certain areas of America, the Discovery Channel would also falsely depict them.  It is sad for me that the Amish, although they maintain separation from "the English", have separated from the Lutheran Reformation, and so became a sect, a sect that went back to a doctrine of works.  But I envy them in this respect, that they largely understand the German language.  Hmmm...  I wonder if they use Luther's translation of the Bible in the German language?

Pieper then ends his essay on the physical aspects of the book itself:

As for the exterior features of the Concordia Triglotta, our Concordia Publishing House has particularly succeeded this time in providing a suitable dress for the "golden Concordia".       
F.[ranz] P.[ieper]

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The original Concordia Triglotta was hardback whereas today's CPH version is "Print on Demand" paperback (2-4 weeks delivery)...  much cheaper to produce in smaller volumes.  I would not fault CPH for producing it this way if it allows a wider audience to purchase the book.  But a $70 price tag would rather present a barrier to a purchase... something they seemingly would have attempted to avoid.  So I suggest the reader look for used copies of the older version on Amazon or elsewhere first.  But if none are available, I recommend purchasing this new one because it is the "gold standard", the "golden Concordia".  Then one will understand the Reformation... the Lutheran Reformation, from the Reformation century, ... then one will understand Martin Luther.

May Pieper's introductory essay serve as today's introduction to the newly available Concordia Triglotta, even if this new book lacks Bente's "Historical Introductions" (free version here).  And if today's CPH has added its own introduction and attempted to do a better job than Pieper, may the reader ignore it and do what Pieper says:
"Just read the Confessions, check their Scripture evidence and convince yourself..."
In the next Part 5a of this series, I begin to review the essay by Prof. Roland Ziegler concerning the Book of Concord... and a detractor of the old Missouri Synod.

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