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General Introduction to the New Luther’s Works Project

April 30th, 2009
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titel_luther1I thought you might like to read the general introduction that appears in the volumes in the new Luther’s Works translation series:

“Since the publication of the American edition of Luther’s Works in English began in 1955 under the general editorship of Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut Lehmann, there has been an explosion in the translation of Luther into the languages of the globe. Scholarship on Luther continues to flourish not only in its traditional northern European seats and its newer homes in North America but also throughout the world. Although the fifty-four volumes of the existing American edition are the most extensive collection of Luther’s works in translation, they do not contain everything that has attracted the attention of historians and theologians in subsequent decades nor everything that Luther’s contemporaries and successors esteemed and republished. The twenty planned new volumes of Luther’s Works, though not attempting to translate all of Luther into English, are intended to reflect both modern and sixteenth-century interests and to expand the coverage of genres underrepresented in the existing volumes, such as Luther’s sermons and disputations. The goal of the translation is to allow Luther to speak in modern English, yet as a man of the sixteenth century. The translators have been asked to resist bowdlerizing Luther’s language to conform to modern sensibilities about such matters as society, gender, or scatology. Editorial introductions and notes are offered to familiarize the reader with the particular circumstances of each text and its theological and social context. The primary basis for the English translation is the comprehensive Weimar edition (D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–), supplemented where possible by edited texts from more recent editions of Luther’s selected works. Scholars able to work in Luther’s own German and Latin will want to consult the Weimar edition and its notes, especially for textual issues. The equivalent Weimar page numbers are printed at the top of the page in each new volume of the American edition and approximate page breaks are marked with a stroke ( | ). References to Luther in the notes are given from the American edition of Luther’s Works wherever possible, and otherwise from the Weimar edition. In the case of texts scheduled for translation in future volumes, both the Weimar reference and the prospective volume in the American edition are viii LUther’s WOrks given. For Luther’s Church and House Postils, the English translations of John Nicholas Lenker and of Eugene F. A. Klug are cited. With each substantive Luther citation, the short title of the work has been given along with its date, for the convenience of the reader. Where the dates of original composition and of first publication differ by more than a year, both are indicated, separated by a slash. Biblical passages within Luther’s works have been rendered in fidelity to Luther’s own text, even when this differs from modern critical texts or conventional English translations. Necessary expansions of partial references have been rendered in brackets from the appropriate edition of Luther’s German Bible, from the Vulgate (including Luther’s 1529 revision thereof), or in consultation with Luther’s translation of the passage in his lectures, as appropriate. This approach has made it impossible to use any single English translation throughout, though the English Standard Version (ESV) has been used as a starting point where possible or, occasionally, the Authorized (KJV) or Douay versions where these correspond more closely to Luther’s own text. Biblical language has been modernized after the model of the ESV, including the use of “you” as the second person form throughout. A comparison of the present volumes with the Weimar edition will immediately reveal the profound debt that the editors of the American edition, past and present, owe to the long succession of Weimar editors. But the publication of these texts in a new English edition affords the opportunity to draw on the accumulation of decades of scholarship since the appearance of many of the Weimar volumes, as well as on new electronic resources, and thus, on occasion, to make some new contribution in token repayment of that vast scholarly debt. Although the present edition is addressed chiefly to scholars, pastors, and theologians working in English, whether as a first language or a language of scholarship, it is hoped that the annotations and the translations of difficult texts may be of service even to those working with Luther in the original tongues. Even now, amid the fifth century after his death, Luther remains an epochal figure in the history of the Christian Church, a prominent shaper of the religious and cultural history of the West, and a provocative voice still heard and engaged by theologians, pastors, and laity around the world as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The editor and publisher trust that these new volumes of Luther’s Works in English will, in harmony with the original goals of the American edition, serve their readers with much that has proved and will prove its “importance for the faith, life, and history of the Christian Church.” Christopher Boyd Brown, General Editor, Luther’s Works, Volumes 56-75

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  1. PHW
    April 30th, 2009 at 23:24 | #1

    Will there be a Libronix version to subscribe to or just a hard copy?

    • April 30th, 2009 at 23:53 | #2

      We are exploring a variety of digital options. If we offer a digital edition on a subscription basis it will be priced the same as the print edition, but if purchased with print, will be substantially discounted.

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