Review of “The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord”

Charles P. Arand, Robert Kolb, and James A. Nestingen The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of The Book of Concord (Mineapolis: Fortress, 2012). 352 pp. $39.00.

I rarely prescribe a book as necessary but The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of The Book of Concord is an exception. Here is a book that I am willing to say is “A must have book!” That is, if you are a Lutheran pastor. It is a necessary companion to The Book of Concord (2000, Kolb & Wengert, ed.) just like Sources and Contexts of The Book of Concord (2001, Kolb & Nestingen, ed.). This book is the completion of the intended three volume project.

The authors have assembled a very convenient and readable history of our confessions. The history is organized into three parts. First are the ecumenical creeds. Second are those treatises dubbed the Wittenberg Confessions (the Catechisms, Augustana, Apology, Smalcald Articles, and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. The Formula of Concord and the intra-Lutheran struggles complete the book.

All three authors contributed to each chapter of the book. They present an engaging and often exciting story about the development of each symbol. Their history of the Book of Concord is encyclopedic in scope. They provide a comprehensive background to each document under consideration. Three academic careers give us no less than 50 pages crammed with endnotes and references for further study. Everything worthwhile that has ever been written to date about the smallest detail can be found for those wanting to do further research. In no instance do the authors yield to the temptation to project history into an opportunity to grind the axe about today’s problems.

Whether one is just beginning to study the Book of Concord or is a seasoned veteran tracking down all that is known about a certain article, this is the book. It is destined to become the standard text for at least the next generation and probably beyond.

If the Lutherans come to forget their Symbols and turn to other voices, it will not be from a lack of attractive and significant resources. Kolb and his company of scholars have given us three volumes that deserve our continuing attention and careful study.

John Hannah is the associate pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church and School in the Bronx, New York, and the President of the ALPB.

The Lutheran Confessions

Posted by Maurice Frontz at June 26, 2012 14:54 I purchased the book based on the review and so far am not disappointed. I only wish there were a select bibliography – although the sources are cited in the endnotes, it is inconvenient to track down the first mention of a book. Otherwise, this is an eminently readable and solidly confessional treatment of the Confessions.

The Creeds!

Posted by David#Drebes at July 03, 2012 12:21 I was pleased to find that this study includes what so many other explorations of the Confessions do not: the creeds! Understanding the ecumenical creeds from a Lutheran perspective is vital–and this book provides helpful background and commentary to do just that.

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