In the five hundred years since the publication of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, a rich set of traditions have grown up around that action and the subsequent events of the Reformation. This up-to-date dictionary by leading theologians and church historians covers Luther’s life and thought, key figures of his time, and the various traditions he continues to influence.
Prominent scholars of the history of Lutheran traditions have brought together experts in church history representing a variety of Christian perspectives to offer a major, cutting-edge reference work. Containing nearly six hundred articles, this dictionary provides a comprehensive overview of Luther’s life and work and the traditions emanating from the Wittenberg Reformation. It traces the history, theology, and practices of the global Lutheran movement, covering significant figures, events, theological writings and ideas, denominational subgroups, and congregational practices that have constituted the Lutheran tradition from the Reformation to the present day.
“In the centuries following, the concept of adiaphora came into discredit, principally in philosophical circles. The following dictum of Immanuel Kant may have contributed to its demise: ‘The doctrine of morals is chiefly concerned with allowing no room for morally indifferent things, neither in acts (adiaphora), nor in human characters, so long as it is possible; for with regard to such ambiguity all maxims run the danger of losing their determinacy and solidity.’ Following Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher contended that no sphere of existence per se could occur outside life under the ethical alternative. Many later Evangelical authorities have been in substantial agreement with this position.” (Page 2)
“The proper function of the gospel is to forgive sins in the form of a promise” (Page 415)
“This dictionary demonstrates that thesis at every turn.” (Page xxi)
“Throughout the works of Luther and many other Evangelical reformers and in the Book of Concord, justification is presented as forensic: God evaluates sinners by means of Christ’s alien, external righteousness, which offers a change of status before God, who evaluates, or ‘reckons,’ sinners to be righteous, not on the basis of their merit but instead because of the righteousness of Christ, the ‘mediator.’” (Pages 385–386)
“The notion that the law and its demands remain in force for all Christians is prevalent in Luther’s writings, especially in his opposition to the antinomian position of Johann Agricola. Insofar as the believing saint is at the same time a sinner, the law and its consequences function to hold that sinner in check.” (Page 412)
An immensely valuable resource. Wide-reaching in scope and brimming with first-rate scholarship, this dictionary will be indispensable for anyone interested in Luther and the global history of Lutheranism.
—Carlos Eire, T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University
This comprehensive dictionary of Lutheranism will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone with interest in the Lutheran Reformation or the progress of Lutheranism to the present day. It is a gold mine of useful information on the topic, all contained conveniently between two boards.
—Tony Lane, professor of historical theology, London School of Theology
The new Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions is a welcome addition to the historical and theological reference shelf. Timothy Wengert and his editorial board have assembled an impressive roster of scholars to produce a well-designed work that brings up-to-date scholarship to bear on topical and biographical studies of Lutheranism from the Reformation to the present day.
—Richard A. Muller, senior fellow, Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research, P.J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology, Emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary
Timothy Wengert teaches and does research in Reformation History and the Lutheran Confessions. In 1981 he discovered and published notes on two of Martin Luther’s sermons from 1520. His dissertation, published by Librairie Droz in Geneva Switzerland, investigates Philip Melanchthon’s interpretation of John’s Gospel. While a representative for the ELCA on the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches, he co-edited a book for Eerdmans publishing house on the role of church history in ecumenism, Telling the Churches’ Stories. In 2000 a new English edition of The Book of Concord appeared edited jointly by Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers). His translation of Luther’s Small Catechism from that volume is used widely throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has written two other books on Philip Melanchthon: Human Freedom, Christian Righteousness (Oxford University Press) focuses on Melanchthon’s relation to Erasmus. Law and Gospel (Baker Books) concentrates on his relation to John Agricola and the third use of the law. In 1997, for the 500th anniversary of Melanchthon’s birth, he edited a book for Sheffield Academic Press entitled Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) and the Commentary. In February 2000, the city of Bretten, Germany (Melanchthon’s birth place) awarded him Melanchthon Prize for contributions to the field of Reformation scholarship, especially for his book on Melanchthon and Erasmus.