At the turn of the millennium Life magazine rated Martin Luther as the third most important person of the last 1,000 years. His confession of the Gospel of Christ has given direction and purpose to many both inside and outside the Lutheran Church. Still after nearly five hundred years since the Reformation began, the writings of Martin Luther continue to inform and inspire preaching and teaching of Jesus Christ arond the world. Therefore it is a shame, that while the fifty-five volumes of the American Edition is the most extensive collection of Luther’s works in English, it doesn’t contain even one half of all Luther’s writings.
But with the publishing of Luther’s Works, American Edition, Volume 69, that is all about to change. Concordia Publishing House has embarked on a historic project to translate and publish 20 new volumes of Luther’s Works that have never been translated into English. A team of scholars and translators have been at work. This first volume in the new series demonstrates that this team is committed to ensuring that the new editions of Luther meets the highest levels of scholarship and quality.
In announcing the publishing of this first volume in the Luther’s Works extension, my colleauge Dr. Benjamin Mayes writes:
Volumes 22–24 of Luther’s Works: American Edition did not give us all of Luther’s preaching on the Gospel of John. Now, in the new volume 69, we have Luther’s exposition of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, as well as his preached meditations on the entire passion and resurrection of our Lord according to John. In LW 69, Luther is an expert guide through the mysteries of Lent and Easter. Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown’s introductions and footnotes in many ways surpass the scholarly apparatus of the old series. Brown sets Luther’s commentary in the context of patristic, medieval, and contemporary Reformation commentaries on John in order to show what was most important to Luther as he preached on Christ’s passion.
The last part of our new volume is truly unique. For the first time, we have collected and translated all of Luther’s sermons on John 20:19–31, where Jesus breathes on His disciples, gives them the Holy Spirit, and bestows on them His authority to forgive and retain sins. This passage, which is quoted and explained in many editions of the Small Catechism, as well as in the twenty-eighth article of the Augsburg Confession, has been the center of not a little controversy over the years. The sermons here in LW 69 show in what ways Luther’s explanation of this passage changed through his career, and in what ways it stayed the same. In every sermon Luther’s concern to uphold the forgiveness of sins through the word of absolution is clear and heartening.
Whether, you are new to Luther, or whether you have been using the American Edition for years, I encourage you to check out this great collection of sermons.