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Commemoration of Martin Chemnitz: Pastor and Confessor

November 9th, 2013
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Copyright Paul T. McCain. All rights reserved.

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.

Chemnitz' Works
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.

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  1. February 1st, 2009 at 17:54 | #1

    Any possibility that this might come to Libronix a touch cheaper in the near future?
    [[McCain: Most, if not all of these works are in Libronix already!]]

  2. Pr. R. a. Abernethy
    February 2nd, 2009 at 11:05 | #2

    Any chance Melanchthon’s “Loci Communes” is going to be published in a similar hardback edition?
    McCain: No, we have no plans to do that.

  3. February 2nd, 2009 at 13:12 | #3

    What about a paperback version?
    McCain: The cost difference between paper and hardback is not really as large as some might imagine. The price would not be much lower, if at all, given the unique intellectual property these resources represent. A comparison to other relatively obscure academic translations reveals that these volumes are quite the bargain. Check, for instance, Brill’s prices on their tomes.

  4. Rev. Thomas C. Messer
    February 2nd, 2009 at 18:19 | #4

    Thanks for posting the info about this sale, Paul. I ordered the collection this afternoon and look forward to getting my hands on it! :)
    In Christ,

  5. Carl Beckwith
    February 2nd, 2009 at 18:55 | #5

    Paul, are you saying the church order has been translated or the sermons? Are there plans to add to the Works of Chemnitz with additional translations? Final question: how about a CPH deal on the two-volume Loci?
    McCain: Church order; No; They are on sale, see CPH web site.

  6. Rev. Andrew Byars
    February 2nd, 2009 at 19:23 | #6

    Having read all of the works of Chemnitz in english(well, skimming some of the Examenen)I’ve been waiting for someone to translate some of his sermons. Where can they be obtained? I’m of course very happy to pay for production, mailing, etc. to get a copy in whatever format.
    McCain: I’m not aware of any translation of his Postil.

  7. John Frahm
    February 2nd, 2009 at 19:38 | #7

    Any other volumes planned for new translation?
    McCain: No.

  8. February 5th, 2009 at 10:09 | #8

    I got the first six of them today during mail call. I was stoked! One could even say that my heart is “ablaze” over this great doctrinal set.
    Thanks to CPH for shipping these books and a new crucifix directly to my tactical address here in Iraq.
    Concordia Publishing House: Reaching people for Christ as the Lutheran Fathers did… by making sure that sound doctrine is written down and available for anyone to study and share.
    Any idea when the two volumes of “Loci Theologici” will be released by CPH?
    [[McCain: They are in print now.]]

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