Editor: Timothy F. Lull (1st edition)
Editor: William Russel (2nd edition)
Format: Paperback & CD-ROM
Page Count: 520
Publisher: Fortress Press
Publication Date: January 28, 2005
I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks to my friends at Fortress Press for furnishing me with a review copy of Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Second Edition.
When I take a moment to consider the sheer volume of writings completed by Martin Luther during his lifetime, I can only imagine the difficulty I would face in trying to narrow down which writings to include in a volume of this length. Timothy F. Lull & William Russel faced this task head on and put together a great collection of Luther’s basic theological writings. Lull had a two-fold focus in the first edition. He wanted to include Luther’s most important shorter writings and demonstrate the range of Luther’s theological interests. Russel expands the focus a bit in the second edition by adding some of Luther’s personal writings, which give the reader further insight into Luther’s religious life and personal commitments. The writings in this book are organized topically and are presented in seven parts:
- Part I: Luther the Man
- Part II: The Task of Theology
- Part III: The Power of the Word of God
- Part IV: The Righteousness of God
- Part V: The Promise of the Sacraments
- Part VI: The Reform of the Church
- Part VII: Living and Dying As a Christian
For the benefit of those who may want to read these works in chronological order, the works in this volume are listed by order of composition year at the end of the table of contents.
As expected, this volume contains many of the familiar writings we associate with Luther, some in whole and others in part. (The Ninety-Five Theses, The Bondage of the Will, The Small Catechism, The Smalcald Articles, etc.) Most of these were familiar to me. I was most excited about the writings I was less familiar with in Part I: Luther The Man, especially Luther’s will, selections from table talk and selected personal letters. These writings help to present a more personal side to Martin Luther that is sometimes lost in biographies and other academic works.
In addition to Luther’s writings, there are several other things to note about this great volume. As you work through this book, you’ll notice a number of the title pages from Luther’s theological works in German, which have been reprinted here for your enjoyment. These title pages are quite beautiful and are in and of themselves art. There’s a lot of symbolism in these pictures, so be sure to take the time to look them over. For those of you who want to do further study of Luther, there is a selected bibliography that comes before chapter one. It covers the following subject areas: 1. Primary Documents, 2. Bibliographies, 3. Martin Luther: Biography, 4. Martin Luther: Theology. The final feature I’d like to make note of is the CD-ROM that comes with the book. The CD-ROM is compatible with the Libronix Digital Library System from LOGOS Bible Software. It contains the full text of this book, a short biography of Luther, links to other resources, a research-paper guide, and a glossary.
Whether you’re a layperson, theology student, pastor or a professor this book is a must for your library. The range of material covered will serve as a great introduction to the theological writings of Martin Luther. This book by itself is a great value. The Libronix-compatible CD is an added bonus, allowing you to add this great work to both your print library and digital library for a reasonable price.
Timothy F. Lull, editor, was President of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkley, and Professor of Systematic Theology there before his death in 2003.
William Russell is author of Luther’s Theological Testament and translator of The Schmalkald Articles in The Book of Concord.
You may read the foreword, introduction, and table of contents at the Augsburg Fortress web site:
- Table Of Contents: LINK
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