Commemoration of Martin Chemnitz: Pastor and Confessor
Martin Chemnitz, the second Martin, if you know him, you already love him. If you don’t know him, you will enjoy meeting him.
Martin Chemnitz was given the nickname “The Second Martin” by his opponents who recognized that he was largely responsible for preserving faithful Lutheran doctrine and practice in the years following Luther’s death in 1546. He played a crucial role in the development of and publication of both the Formula of Concord in 1577 and then the Book of Concord, in 1580. [Photo caption: Portrait of Martin Chemnitz in the church of St. Martin Church, Braunschweig, Germany. Photo copyright Paul McCain. All rights reserved.]
His Examination of the Council of Trent remains, to this day, the most definitive response and rebuttal of the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. His book on the Two Natures in Christ is perhaps the largest single volume devoted to the subject of Christology ever produced, and his work On the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful explanation of the Supper and its blessings. His handbook to be used both for the examination and instruction of clergy is an excellent summary for anyone to review. Additionally, there is a slim volume on the Lord’s Prayer that he prepared as a commentary. Not that these are al the works of Chemnitz. There are any number of other works he produced in his lifetime, including a very large volme of sermons for every Sunday and Festival Day in the Church Year, along with his Church Order for Braunschweig, which has been translated, but not yet published.
Since the early 1970s, Concordia Publishing House has published the most extensive collection of translations of the works of Martin Chemnitz from the original Latin or German into English. That’s the good news. The bad news? For years they have been published in books of different shapes, colors and formats. In the case of Chemnitz’ most extensive work of dogmatic theology, the Loci Theologici [Latin for: Theological Topics], this translation was published in two 8.5 x 11 paperback volumes, two column format, set in a san serif typeface, making the whole experience of reading and using this classic early Lutheran doctrinal text less than pleasant.
But now all that has been changed. In the past year or so, we have been releasing the translation of Chemnitz’ works in a uniform set of volumes, all the same trim size. And, recognizing the potential for causing havoc for decades worth of materials quoting the original printings, we prepared these volumes in such a way that each existing volume appears just as it was, with the same pagination, but just in a new cover, nestled with other volumes. That means that it will not be impossible for people going forward to track down citations to these works in the past several decades of research. The exception to this rule, of course, is the Loci.
Just last Friday I received the two very large volumes of Chemnitz’ Loci and so now can report that the project is now complete, and the set is now on sale. Each volume is a 6×9 hardback, black, with colored banding on the spine to distinguish the volumes. The Examination of the Council of Trent has blue banding, the volumes on the Lord’s Supper, Handbook on Ministry, Word and Sacrament, and the brief volume on The Lord’s Prayer has a red band, the Two Natures in Christ is the volume with the green band, and the Loci are in the two volumes with a scarlet/burgundy band.