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Psalms of the Faithful: Luther’s Early Reading of the Psalter in Canonical Context
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Psalms of the Faithful: Luther’s Early Reading of the Psalter in Canonical Context

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The Psalms and Martin Luther

The Psalms forced Martin Luther to change how he read the Bible.

In Psalms of the Faithful Brian German shows us Luther’s reappraisal of the plain sense of Scripture. By following the canonical shaping of the Psalter, Luther refined his interpretive principles into a more finely grained hermeneutic. Luther inspires us to read the Psalms empathetically with ancient Israelites and early church fathers. He stirs us up to join the “faithful synagogue” in praying to and praising the Lord our God.

According to many scholars, Luther established his approach to biblical exegesis on the claim that Jesus Christ is Scripture’s content and speaker. While Luther used this formulation in prefaces, how did he really read the Bible?

German applies pressure not only to how Luther scholars understand Luther’s interpretive method, but also to how modern biblical exegetes approach their task—and even to how we read the Bible.

Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology

Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key figures, themes, and issues in historical and systematic theology from an evangelical perspective.

Other books in the series:

Praise for Psalms of the Faithful

This exemplary study provides a well-organized, well-argued, and well-written contribution to the understanding of Luther as a Christian interpreter of the Old Testament. Like a good detective who carefully considers all the evidence of presentation in a court of law, German examines a selection of non-Davidic psalms from Luther’s inaugural First Lectures on the Psalms to show that the canonical shape of the Psalter determined how he read the actual text of these psalms as prophetic testimonies of things to come. The key to that interpretation was his identification of their speaker as the faithful synagogue as the precursor of the church. Luther thereby begins to develop a method of interpretation that emphasizes the continuity in faith between the people of God in both testaments as well as the distinction between Christ’s coming in the flesh, his coming in the soul, and his coming on the last day.

—John W. Kleinig, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Theology, Australian Lutheran College

This marvelous study of Luther’s early reading of the Psalms discloses the power of the word at work on one of the church’s most fertile and acute minds. German’s careful, lucid, and groundbreaking reflections allow us to watch Luther as he permits himself to be “taken captive” by the Psalms, and to adjust his reading to conform to “the way the words go” in a manner that finally moves him to a new set of insights about the nature of both Scripture and human faithfulness. Challenging several recent trends in contemporary hermeneutics, German’s nuanced analysis reveals especially the unique way Luther came to appreciate the depth and richness of an attuned literal reading of the Old Testament that can speak on its own terms equally to synagogue and church.

—Ephraim Radner, Professor of Historical Theology, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto


  • A Fresh Look at a Fresh Luther
  • The Origins of the Faithful Synagogue
  • Joining the Faithful Synagogue
  • Reading Scripture with the Faithful Synagogue
  • What Does This Mean?

Product Details

  • Title: Psalms of the Faithful: Luther’s Early Reading of the Psalter in Canonical Context
  • Author: Brian T. German
  • Series: Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Pages: 240
  • Format: Logos Digital, Paperback
  • Trim Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781683590484

About Brian T. German

Brian T. German (PhD, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin and Director of the Concordia Bible Institute. His main area of research is the history of biblical interpretation, particularly how premodern interpreters understood the presence of Christ in the Old Testament.