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First Full-Length Biography of Wilhelm Löhe Coming Soon

November 22nd, 2010
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Dr. C.F.W. Walther said this about Pastor Löhe:

‘Next to God, it is Pastor Loehe to whom our Synod is indebted for its happy beginning and rapid growth in which it rejoices; it may well honor him as its spiritual father. It would fill the pages of an entire book to recount even briefly what for many years this man, with tireless zeal in the noblest unselfish spirit, has done for our Lutheran Church and our Synod in particular.’

—Quoted by Erich H. Heintzen in Love Leaves Home: Wilhelm Loehe and the Missouri Synod (CPH, 1973), p 73.

Believe it or not, there never has been a full-length biography of Wilhelm Löhe published in English before. But now, coming soon from Concordia Publishing House, is such a book, a translation of a very well done biography published in Germany a few years back. You can pre-order the book on the CPH web site. You can also view a sample from the book.

More information on the book:

The best biography of a father of confessional Lutheranism in North America.

Loehe, who never visited the United States, sent missionaries, founded seminaries, established deaconess training, studied doctrine and liturgy, and fought with church officials. Geiger sets forth Loehe’s life, and the divided opinions about him, in a compelling and authoritative narrative.

Dr. Erika Geiger lived in Neuendettelsau, Germany (1953-55) where Loehe and his work made an enduring impression on her. In 1956 she served as a deaconess in a hospital of the Neuendettelsau Deaconess Institute. She later served as an associate professor in Korntal bei Stuttgart, at the Friedrich-Oberlin-Fachoberschule and at the Fachhochschule for Religionspadagogik, Munich.

Translator Dr. Wolf Knappe (1926– ) comes from a family of German pastors. In 1951 St. Peter’s Lutheran Church called him to serve in Wine Hill, IL. He has also served as a guest lecturer and as a translator for Luther Digest.

Praise for “The Life, Work and Influence of Wilhelm Loehe (1808-1872)”

Erika Geiger narrates Pastor Wilhelm Loehe’s story with accuracy, sympathy, and vigor. Avoiding hagiographic impulses she paints a picture of Loehe that allows readers to see his humanity in the multiple scenes of his life: a boy saddened by the premature death of his father, a struggling student of theology, a disenchanted pastor wondering if he had a place in the church, a grieving widower, an energetic preacher, a caring shepherd, a determined organizer of missions, and an aging and somewhat broken old man yet living in Christian hope. This first, full length biography of a key player in Lutheran history is accessible to lay audiences and appreciated by scholars.

—Prof. John T. Pless, MDiv
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry & Missions
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne
Co-President of the International Loehe Society

Those looking for a model for pastoral ministry with integrity do well to emulate Loehe. Few pastors have mobilized their congregations for mission as he. Steady, patient preaching and teaching, combined with scholarship, zeal for outreach, and all from a “pastor’s heart,” placed Loehe to move his congregation and ministry to have both a local and an international impact. Loehe’s work was guided by a thorough commitment to Jesus Christ and a love for the church—the center of a vibrant service grounded in Scripture and guided by the Confessions—leading to liturgical renewal, social mercy, diaconal ministry, and missional outreach. May this fine translation help shape and inspire a new generation to do ministry in the spirit of Loehe.

—Prof. Mark Mattes, PhD
Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Grand View University, Des Moines, IA

Erika Geiger’s masterful biography breathes new life into Wilhelm Loehe and his legacy for the mission of the contemporary church.
Through a splendid use of original source material the reader is immersed in the challenges and affairs confronting Loehe in his time. Moreover, one is able to trace how the commitments of Loehe continue to influence the mission of the church today. The excellent translation by Wolf Knappe makes this compelling book the standard work on Loehe’s life in the English language.

—Prof. Craig L. Nessan, ThD
Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology
Wartburg Theological Seminary

While there is precious little in this book about the LCMS, it is a must read for every LCMS Pastor and a strongly recommended read for the LCMS layman. The author is able to capture the essence of the theological formation of Loehe. His catechesis as a Confessional Lutheran had as much to do with the struggles in his life as much as it did with formal training at the University. From his lonely school days to his frustration with raising children as a widower, from his love for the Ministry to the struggles with sinful parishioners, from his love for the Lutheran Confessions to his position that the Confessions were not yet complete, from his care for the hurting and the lack of support for his deaconate; you can walk through his life and see how the “theology of the cross” was his only hope and stay. Loehe clearly was a man who understood the connection between faithful adherence to the Word and God and the Mission of the Church proclaiming the Cross of Christ.

—Pres. Brian Saunders, MDiv
President of Iowa District East of the LCMS

Until now, Loehe has been known to English readers primarily through his Three Books about the Church. Now, Erika Geiger’s biography adds another important dimension to Loehe’s witness to the Gospel of Christ: Loehe’s own life as pastor, father, friend and teacher!

—Prof. David Ratke, PhD
Lenoir Rhyne University, Hickory, NC

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  1. Guillaume
    November 22nd, 2010 at 16:55 | #1

    Oh the horror!!!! :)

  2. Rev. Jody Walter
    November 22nd, 2010 at 21:40 | #2

    This sounds great, a much, much needed resource. Now, when are we going to get the full length biographies Wyneken and F.A. Craemer? Those are needed just as much.

  3. November 23rd, 2010 at 00:09 | #3

    While on the subject, is there any way CPH could get the rights for ‘Three Books on the Church’ from Augsburg-Fortress, where it languishes, and do a reprint? Second-hand copies are as rare as hen’s teeth. Or, failing that, maybe commission a new translation? It’s a classic that deserves a wider readership. Perhaps some of Loehe’s other shorter writings could be inlcuded as well? There is so little og him in English.

  4. Richard
    November 23rd, 2010 at 10:33 | #4

    Neuendettelsau is a pretty little town in Germany–my children attended the Lutheran Gymnansium. I wish I could say the spirit of Loehe remains at the church and school there–but . . .

  5. Dr. Jack Kilcrease
    November 24th, 2010 at 07:16 | #5

    Awesome! I look forward to reading it.

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