“The Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord makes it possible for every English-reading Lutheran to learn first hand what it means to be Lutheran on the basis the confessions that define the Lutheran faith.”
This is a quote from a recent review of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. It has been several years now since we published Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions and we are quickly approaching over 100,000 copies sold, in its various formats and editions. Never before in the history of the Lutheran Church, has an edition of her formal confessions of faith been so widely distributed and read, as we have seen with this edition. There is a great hunger on the part of our laity for knowledge, for learning what it is to be, and remain a Lutheran. They are tired of being put on starvation diets of insipid platitudes and vapid and shallow “lessons for life.” There is an ever growing resurgence in a passion to get back to our Lutheran roots and really explore the faith of the churches of the Augsburg Confession.
By way of reminder, you can get the Concordia edition in the following formats:
Regular hardcover. On sale again now for only $19.99, regularly $31.99, and this item qualifies for the free shipping offer. Click through to learn more about that.
Bonded leather. On sale for $49.99, regularly $69.99, also qualifies for free shipping, per terms described on web site.
Genuine leather, boxed hardcover.
Pocket edition (the text of the Confessions proper, only)
The pocket edition is available in Kindle and ePub formats.
Here is the whole review written by Dr. Cameron MacKenzie for the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly last year, which he kindly provided to me.
Paul Timothy McCain, ed. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. 2nd ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006. xlvi+747pp. $31.00
When a new version of the Book of Concord comes out, American Lutherans get excited – especially when it is designed for them. This is precisely the case with the “reader’s edition” that is now available from Concordia Publishing House. Although many pastors and theologians have recommended the Lutheran Confessions to lay people for study, it is unlikely that many have readily embraced the task. The book is imposing – and not just in length (this one comes in at almost 800 pages). The content too is challenging for this is a book of doctrine (the clear teachings of the Scripture) but not arranged according to topic or for systematic learning. Instead it consists of 10 distinct documents or confessions that arose in the early Church and then again in the Reformation era as statements of truth about the issues that were controversial at the time. In other words, these are historical documents that reflect their circumstances as well as Scriptural truth.
Nonetheless, they are important because – theologically speaking – they define what it means to be Lutheran. Over the centuries, Lutheranism has changed significantly from what it was in the sixteenth century. American Lutherans are themselves proof of this reality – using English, employing democratic forms of church government, and participating in all kinds of “church” activities within and without the congregation, to name just a few points. But the Lutheran Confessions have functioned as a kind of “glue” to hold Lutherans together both now and across the centuries. Thus, we are Lutheran today not because we speak German or we went to parochial school or even because we belong to a church that has “Lutheran” on its signboard but because our Church has committed itself (especially our professional church workers) to the Book of Concord.
But this commitment by the Church (and the constitution of every LCMS congregation spells this out in no uncertain terms) is the best reason for its members’ becoming familiar with this book. And the “Reader’s Edition” – more so than any previous version of the Book of Concord in English – makes it feasible. This is truly a “user friendly” edition – first of all just in its presentation. The pages are large but divided into two columns. The typeface is big enough for comfortable reading and the paper is just slightly off-white so as to avoid glare. Although available in deluxe editions, the binding of the standard edition is very attractive (two tone, black and maroon, with gilt lettering imprinted on cover and spine.
There are more than 115 black and white illustrations – most of them woodcuts and engravings from the Reformation era – and 31 full color plates from the same period. These provide faces for the names and visual representations of the truths confessed. For example, the 1555 altarpiece at Weimar (Plate 31) not only depicts Luther and the artist, Cranach the Elder, but also the meaning of Law and Gospel by displaying several scenes from the Scriptures.
The reader will also find helpful introductions, not only to the entire book but to the various confessions as well, timelines of relevant historical events, outlines for each of the 16th century confessions, and indexes that include a glossary of terms, description of persons and groups, teaching and preaching illustrations, Bibles references, and subjects in general. Along with information about this edition and historical data, the introductory material includes a brief explanation of “Confessional Subscription,” an overview of the entire Book of Concord, and a schedule for reading the whole book over the course of a year. The editors have also incorporated headings and notes into the texts of the confessions [carefully set off by typeface and/or brackets] in order to assist the reader in following the argument. Finally, there is a map on the last page that shows places that were historically significant for the Reformation.
The price is eminently reasonable (only $31.00 for the standard edition). Perhaps one reason for this is that the text is not a brand new translation but a careful revision and updating of that which one finds in the Concordia Triglotta (1921), which includes the German and Latin as well as the English. This is the edition that was the standard in the LCMS through the middle decades of the 20th century and that still can be found in many pastors’ libraries. Now, after a thorough reworking, the English translation in that version is readily available for lay people as well as church professionals.
As pointed out in the introduction, C. F. W. Walther once wrote:
The Book of Concord should be in every Lutheran home….If a person isn’t familiar with this book, he’ll think, “That old book is just for pastors. I don’t have to preach. After working all day, I can’t sit down and study in the evening. If I read my morning and evening devotions, that’s enough.” No, that is not enough! The Lord doesn’t want us to remain children, who are blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others.
Now, more than ever, Walther’s admonition can become a reality. The Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord makes it possible for every English-reading Lutheran to learn first hand what it means to be Lutheran on the basis the confessions that define the Lutheran faith.