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Which Book of Concord do you use?

October 22nd, 2006
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All this discussion about Book of Concord editions have led several of you to ask me, "So, which edition of the Book of Concord do you use?" That’s easy enough to answer: all of them!

Obviously, my favorite edition is Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. It is my "default" edition that is at my desk. For more scholarly purposes, I use the Triglotta edition, which provides the Latin and German of the respective 1580 and 1584 editions of the Book of Concord, with a translation that, though it has a few problems here and there, is very faithful to the original languages. The English translation of the Triglotta is available on my other web site, along with Bente’s Historical Introductions. I use the German critical edition, the Bekenntnisschriften, particularly for the wealth of footnotes and helps it contains, even though it is not providing, necessarily, the texts of the Lutheran Confessions as they appear in the actual two editions of the Book of Concord. I have also enjoyed very much turning to the Lutheran Legacy web site to use the scan they have there of a 1580 Dresden edition. I like the Tappert edition because it is the one I used to study the Confessions in college and seminary more than any other. I like the Kolb-Wengert edition because it offers the second edition of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and many useful footnotes and annotations. The notes on the Formula are particularly interesting, although one must be aware of a good bit of historical revisionism reflected in them, for instance the use of the phrase "crypto-Philipist." There was nothing "crypto" or "secret" about Melanchthonianism. The older and more accurate phrase, "crypto-Calvinist" continues to serve well. However, in regard to both Tappert and K/W, as I’ve pointed out, and as have I learned over the past several years, neither of them offer a text of the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord. K/W suffers, unfortunately, from the imposition of the gender-neutral language agenda by Augsburg-Fortress. I have both the first and second editions of the Jacobs edition. The second edition in 1911 contains the better translation of the Augsburg Confession. I If you can get your hands on the original first edition Jacobs, the second volume provides many documents referred to, or underlying, the Lutheran Confessions. The Henkel edition of the Book of Concord remain, to this day, the only English translation of the entire 1580 German edition of the Book of Concord. The 1854, second edition, is better than the first. I have both and use the 1854 edition more often when comparing translations. You can read both of the Henkel editions on the Lutheran Legacy web site. Used appropriately, all these editions are helpful and we can be grateful for all of them.

I have each English edition on the computer so it is easy to move around in them. The more the merrier, I say, so happy reading!

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Categories: Lutheran Confessions
  1. Shawn Andersen
    October 21st, 2006 at 09:09 | #1

    In college just before seminary I obtained a copy of “Jacobs edition” and have used it ever since.
    I already had a Tappert and Triglot which had served me well. However, the Jacobs edition seemed to me like a solid one and suffered from none of the Augsburg-Fortress issues.
    As far as I can see, it is quite good.
    McCain: Actually, the Jacobs edition was severely criticized by Missouri Synod theologians. In the oldest English periodical the LCMS produced, in the late 1800s, there is a rather extensive review printed of the Jacobs edition and it was faulted for failure to be precise about how God works entirely for our conversion. I do not have ready access to a scanner, but the interesting thing about the article is that they decry the fact that there is no readily available translation in English. I would recommend the Triglotta or the “Concordia” edition over Jacobs.

  2. Rev. Al Bergstrazer
    October 21st, 2006 at 09:17 | #2

    The Triglotta is probably as close to ‘definitive’ as the average pastor can get, I dearly love mine, but its not so portable. I believe NPH sells the book of Concord software-which I’m hoping to aquire in the coming months.
    I have a ex-library Bente-Dau english edition thats a lot less bulky than the Triglotta yet it still has the same excruciatingly small print.
    I agree that Kolb Wengert is useful for the historical background found in the notations, the Formula of Concord has a fascinating set of designations for who wrote which passage that you will not find elsewhere.
    I keep a copy of Tappert handy because I’m a circuit counselor, and as I go from congregation to congregation, and deal with congregational constitutions, its the most likely the edition used (if a congregation has any copy of the book of concord at all). Though I haven’t used it for personal study in many years.

  3. October 21st, 2006 at 22:47 | #3

    Like Pastor McCain, I have all of the editions he and others mentioned except the Jacobs. Similar to some, I agree each edition provides its own ‘glimpse’ into the daily life and interpretation of the confessions for the day. For some, to each their own.
    However, one thing I find very interesting is that each edition provides sometimes ‘different’ biblical citings for links in the confessions. This may be the better ‘bar’ to measure a texts use for the church. Where and how can we apply it (Holy Scripture) to daily life for our people in the pews?
    As a church body we have sometimes given ‘silent nod’ to the confessions. Like Pastor Bergstrazer alluded to we have a corporate consistent lack of providing linkage to the confessions of the church for the people and teaching them what they are and what they actually mean. This is due to many issues including, lack of education of children, laity and clergy, desire to be more ‘biblical’ in reaction to the ‘fundamentalists’ and our culture’s desire to make church a ‘feel good place’, instead of heeding Jesus words, “teaching them all I have commanded”.
    The ultimate model we as a church have is Jesus Christ Himself. In teaching he would cite scripture and connect it for the people and disciples with the past, apply it to daily life in the present and provide for us in the future the model we need for teaching the importance not of knowledge, but of interest in matters of the soul, rooted in the Old Testament, fulfilled on Calvary and connected to us today.
    We have tools provided for us by the church, but do not have a consistent, persistent hunger to learn and grow as Christians or use the tools already available.
    All of this is a sad commentary on our church, but I have digressed from the original point. No matter which edition is used, we need to apply it daily for the people in the pew. Only in providing the concrete link to the confessions they agreed to at their confirmation or affirmation of baptism to join the individual church, will the link be provided that we are still a confessional church rooted, not only in the ‘historic confessions’ of the church, but their basis, Holy Scripture. For then in providing the link and light on scripture we see Christ and Him crucified for our sins.
    I apologize if this has offended anyone, but today is the hour for the church to stand and boldly confess Christ and Him crucified for our sin!!!

  4. ingqvist
    October 22nd, 2006 at 14:38 | #4

    I use a reprinted Bente/Dau by Repristination Press, partly due to size, partly due to the use of KJV which I’am confortable with. I would like to use the new Concordia by CPH but I gave my copy away and have been waiting months, almost a year, for our church’s back order.
    It is important to have a good translation, but I wish that we had something on the order of the size of Tappert to easily carry around, we can do it with the Bible which is much longer (that is make it compact), why not the BOC?
    Oh and my K/W is on the shelf, looking quite new, turned me off with the ‘what is this’ translation for Luther’s Small Catechism, the use of the NRSV, and the feminizations… I’m not a reader of German or Latin so I need to know I can trust the translators, I am not confident in that rguard to the K/W.

  5. Helen E. Jensen
    October 27th, 2006 at 15:49 | #5

    I’ve had to do some work recently which involved the Book of Concord, and as with Bible study preparation, I surrounded myself with several.
    My own are 1. a Bente-Dau English portion of the Triglotta and 2. the “McCain” BOC.
    I have the church library’s Tappert and the university’s K-W.
    I would love to have the Bente-Dau in larger type, if anyone is thinking of reproducing that again!
    I came to K-W “warned” but I have found the footnotes useful.
    If the new CPH BOC (“whenever”!) is going to be reset, I would appreciate a greater distinction between the typeface of the text and that of the notes.
    All that said, I found something useful in each of them, and comparison even more useful.
    McCain: Hi Helen, woops, I’ve indicated on this blog when the second edition of “Concordia” will be available: early in January 2007. I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. Blessings.

  6. Tim Schenks
    October 29th, 2006 at 14:51 | #6

    I have an original copy of the (1922?) English-language Bente/Dau Book of Concord (1/3 of the Triglot I guess you could call it). It has the wonderful Historical Introductions which have since been published as a separate work (although I think you might have included parts of it in the new one?) I found that the archaic language in the old BOC more memorable than Janzow’s contemporary Large Catechism. Maybe more of Luther’s personality came through in the old version (I don’t know … I wish my Grandma had taught me German so I could check the original language).
    I AM waiting for your revised Concordia, though, and if it isn’t out soon I might borrow my congregation’s 1st edition copy and forget to give it back.

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