Full Text for CTM The Sixteenth-Century "Confessyon of the Fayth of the Germaynes" in Twentieth Century American English 24-6 (Text)

CONCORDIA THEOLOGICAL MONTHL Y Vol. XXXI JUNE 1960 No.6 Editorial Comment 340 Scripture and Tradition in the Council of Trent. RICHARD BAEPLER 341 The Sixteenth-Century "Confessyon of the Payth of the Germaynes" in Twentieth-Century American English. HERBERT J. A. BOUMAN 363 "But Right or Wrong-My Architecture." GEORGE W. HOYER 371 HOMILETICS 379 THEOLOGICAL OBSERVER 387 BOOK RINIEW 391 EDITORIAL COMMITTEE VICTOR BARTLING, PAUL M. BRETSCHER RICHARD R. CAEMMERER, MARTIN H. FRANZMANN ALFRED O. FUERBRINGER, ARTHUR CARL PIEPKORN WALTER R. ROEHRS,· LEWIS W. SPITZ GILBERT A. THIELE • On leave of absence AddreJI aU commlmications to the Editorial Committee in care of Victor Bartling, 801 De Mun Ave., St. Louis 5, Mo. The Sixteenth-Century "Confessyon of the Fayth of the Germaynes" in Twentieth -Century American English THE same year in which Martin Bucer and his associates met with Martin Lu-ther and his co-workers to establish agree­ment, at least for the moment, between the two groups of Evangelicals in the Witten­berg Concord, the rediscovered Gospel, which these men loved and proclaimed so well, was brought to another country. Just six years after Augsburg, a mere five after the Editio Princeps of the Augsburg Con­fession and the Apology, a book came off the press in England with the following imprint on the title page: "The confessyon of the fayth of the Germaynes exhibited to the most victorious Emperour Charles the .v. in the Councell or assemble holden at Augusta the yere of our lorde. 1530. To which is added the Apologie of Melanch­thon who defendeth with reasons inuincible the aforesayde confessyon translated by Richarde Taverner at the commaundement of his Master the ryght honorable Mayster Thomas Crumwel chefe Secretarie to the kynges grace. Psalmo. 119. And I spake of thy testimonies in the presece of kynges and I was not confounded." 1 Following the text of the confession we find this: HImprynted at London in Fletestretejby me Robert Redman/dwellynge at the sygne of the George nexte to saynt Dunstones 1 This book is in the British Museum. The present quotation and others to follow are from a microfilm copy in Pritzlaff Memorial Library, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. By HERBERT J. A. BOUMAN Church. 1536. CUM PRIVILEGIO RE­GALl." A momentous occasion! Taverner writes in his Preface: "Who di nat onles he be mortally infected with the pestyferous pay­son of enuy most hyghly commende mag­nifye and extolle your ryght honorable mastershippes most drcuspecte godlynes and most godly circumspection in the cause and matter of our Christyan religyon whiche with all indifferencie do not onely permitte the pure true and syncere preach­ers of godes worde frely to preache/but also your selfe to the vttermoste of your power do promote and furder the cause of Christe and nat only that/but also do animate and incourage other to the same. As nowe of late ye haue animated and impelled me to translate the Confessyon of the fay the and the defence or Apologie of the same/which boke after the judge­mente and censure of all indifferente wyse and lerned men is as frutful and as clerkly composed as ever boke was vntyll thys day whiche haue bene publyshed or sette forth. But to thende that the people for whose sakes thys boke was commaunded to be translated maye the more gredely deuoure the same/I do dedicate and commende it to your name/and yf any faultes haue eschaped me in this my translation I desyr nat onely your maystershype but also all that shal reade thys boke to remember the saying of the poete Horace which i arte 363 364 "CONFESSYON OF TIlE FAYTH .•. " IN AMERICAN ENGLISH poetica say the. In opere longo fas est oprepere somnum. That is to saye/in a longe worke it is lawe£ull for an man to fall some tymes a slepe. But as touch­ynge your ryght honorable maystershyppe I doubte nothyng (such is your inestim­able humanitie) but that ye wyll accepte thys my lytle seruyce & take it in worth whom I beseche the hyght god that he wyll vouchsaue to furder in all your affayres to the glode of god and auauncement of hys name. Amen." The "fay the of the Germaynes." In a sense this was certainly true. Germany was the cradle of the great Reformation. The names of the places connected with those stirring days and events betray their national geography: Eisleben, Eisenach, Er­furt, Wittenberg, Heidelberg, Leipzig, Worms, Marburg, Schwabach, Augsburg. The same is true of the men chiefly in­volved: Luther, Me1anchthon, Jonas, Bu­genhagen, etc. Those who presented the statement of their faith in the German language on German soil at a German diet were German princes. There was indeed a distinctly German flavor about it all. But in a more important sense the "fay the of the Germaynes" was not really German at all. The very fact of the confession's early translation into English and its highly commendatory introduction to the subjects of Henry VIII demonstrates the more than German character of this book. The particular form of the confes­sion may have been German, but its con­tent is as old as the mercy of God and His redemptive activity on behalf of the sinner, as old as the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us men and for our salvation and the divinely powered kerygma of the apos­tles. It is the faith that the true church has always believed and confessed, the faith in the Gospel of the free grace of God. It is the faith that had long been obscured but was rediscovered by Martin Luther, transmitted to his associates, and gloriously confessed by the strong men of Augsburg. The "faythe of the Germaynes" was thus no Teutonic peculiarity, representing an idiosyncrasy of the German character. It was not a "Lutheran" document 2 and hence of doubtful or limited relevance for Chris­tians of other lands and tongues. For just as from the beginning the Gospel addressed itself with its universal gift to all men, recognizing no national, ethnic, racial, or linguistic barriers, so the rediscovered Gos­pel, to which the Lutheran Confessions bear witness, is not peculiar to one people or one age. Here, too, there is neither German nor Frenchman, neither Slav nor Scandinavian, neither Slovak nor Pole, neither Spaniard nor Englishman.a And this is true not only of the Old World but also of the New. The Lutheran Church came to America and gradually established itself on a solid confessional basis. Every Lutheran body in America in some way expresses allegiance to the Lu­theran Confessions. Transplanted to its new environment the Lutheran Church sur­vived and maintained itself and grew and prospered until it has become a significant force in American Christendom. And this under a democratic form of government and with a congregational church polity, quite independent of princes and church­state alignments. The Lutheran confes-2 Cf. Ap XV 42 ". . . jmo hane saluberri­mam evangelii partem lacerant convitHs," which Justus Jonas paraphrases in the German, " ... dieselbigen seligen Lehre, das liebe, heilige Evangelium, nennen sie lutherisch." a CE. Acts 2:9 fl.; Gal. 3 :26 fl. "CONFESSYON OF THE FAYTH ... " IN AMERICAN ENGLISH 365 sional approach to Christian doctrine proved itself as flexible and adaptable to changed external circumstances as the apos­tolic Gospel itself. Only in periods when Lutheran confessionalism wavered and be­came unsure of itself was the Lutheran Church in America in danger of losing its identity. In America, as in Europe and elsewhere, the fortunes of the Lutheran Church are in­dissolubly linked with the Lutheran Sym­bols. The Lutheran immigrants from Ger­many, the Scandinavian lands, and other European countries brought their symbols with them and used them for generations in the language of their national origin. But the Luthetan Church was bound to remain an immigrant and even a "foreign" church unless and until it could communi­cate the foundations of its faith to Amer­icans in the American idiom. "Wrapped in the obscurities of its original dialects­the Latin and the German languages­that venerable relic of the Reformation has been left to slumber almost entirely in silence and neglect. ... The most obvious cause . . . seems to be, that the larger portion of Lutherans in America are accus­tomed to read the English language only, and consequently have never had an oppor­tunity to appreciate the value of their Symbols. Yet we cherish the anticipation of a brighter day in the Lutheran Church. ... It was, therefore, reasonable to pre­sume, that a faithful translation of the Book of Concord into the English language, was loudly demanded by the necessities of the times, and would effectually co-operate with these laudable exertions." 4 4 The Christian Book of Concord, or Sym­bolical Books of the Bvangelical Lutheran Ch1trch (Newmarket, Va.: Published by Solomon D. Henkel and Bros., 1851), Preface, p. iii. These statements from the Publishers' Preface of the oldest complete Book of Conc01'd in English were written under date of July 4, 1851. In the little more than a century since then "a brighter day" has indeed dawned for the dissemination of the Lutheran Symbols among English­speaking Americans. Apart from the Augs­burg Confession, of which the first com­plete English version in America dates from 1831, the translations of the entire Book of C01zcord are as follows: The Christian Book of Concord, Newmarket, Va., 1851 Book of CotzC01'd, Philadelphia, 1882 Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis, 1921 Book of Concord, Philadelphia, 1959 I> All of these editions stand in the same translation tradition, as is acknowledged by the various editors and as could easily be demonstrated by a comparison of the texts. But even the early British translations were not without influence on the American efforts. Charles Porterfield Krauth, a great 19th century American leader in confes­sional Lutheranism, did much to popularize the Lutheran Symbols and their theology. His work appears to rest, at least with I> In addition to the Henkel edition: (a) The Book of Concord, or The Symbolical Books of the BVatlgelical Lutheran Church, ed. Henry Eyster Jacobs (Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, MCMXIX, first edition, 1882). (b) Triglot CO?lcordia: The Symbolical Books of the Bv. Lutheran Church, Germat1-Latin-B1~glish, ed. F. Bente and W. H. T. Dau. Published as a Memorial of the Quaddcentenary Jubilee of the Reformation, anno Domini 1917, by resolution of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921). (c) The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Bvan­geUcal Lutheran Church, trans. and ed. Theo. dore G. Tappert in collaboration with Jaroslav Pelikan, Robert H. Fischer, Arthur C. Piepkorn (Muhlenberg Press: Philadelphia, 1959). 366 "CONFESSYON OF THE FA YTH. ." IN AMERICAN ENGLISH respect to the Augsburg Confession, on a 16th-century British mode1.6 A compari­son of some of the articles in four English versions will show some renderings pecu­liar to each, yet they display a remarkable similarity over all. The basic text for all of them is the Latin.7 They will be labeled, respectively, T (Taverner, 1536), J (Ja­cobs, 1882) , Tr (Trig lot, 1921) , and M (Muhlenberg, 1959). AUGSBURG CONFESSION, ARTICLE I T -Of the Trinite. Our Churches with full cosent do teache that the decree of Nicene Councell touchynge the vnitye of the Godhede or diuine essencie and of the. iii. parsons is true & ought to be beleued without any doutynge/ that is to saye/ that there is one deitie or diuine essencie which is both called and is in dede Godl euerlastinge without bodie without partes/ vnmesurable I power wysdome and goodnesl the maker and preseruer of all thinges as wei visible as inuisible and yet be. Hi. distincte parsons of all one godhede or essencie and of all one power and whiche be coeternalll that is to saye the father sonne and holy ghost. And this warde (parson) they vse in the same signifycation that other doctours of the church haue in thys mater vsed itl so that it signifyeth not a parte or qualitie in an other I but yt which hathe a proper beinge of it selfe. 6 Cf. Jacobs (n. 5 above), p. 4: "The trans­lations included in this volume are those of the two-volume edition [l882}, except that, for the translation of the Augsburg Confession, credited in that edition to Dr. Charles Porterfield Krauth, but which is in reality a reprint of a sixteenth century English translation, published in 'The Harmony of the Confessions' in 1586 .... " 7 The Henkel, or Newmarket, edition is translated from the German and can therefore not be used for comparison with Taverner. J -Our Churches, with common con­sent, do teach, that the decree of the Coun­cil of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed with­out any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same es­sence and power, who also are co-eternal, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which sub­sists of itself. Tr -(an exact reproduction of the Jacobs text). M-Our churches teach with great unanimity that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the unity of the divine essence and concerning the three persons is true and should be believed without any doubting. That is to say, there is one divine essence, which is called and which is God, eternal, incorporeal, indivisible, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible. Yet there are three persons, of the same essence and power, who are also coeternal: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And this term "person" is used, as the ancient Fathers employed it in this connection, to signify not a part or a quality in an­other but that which subsists of itself. AUGSBURG CoNFESSION, ARTICLE III T -Of the humanitie and diuinitie of Christe. Also they teache that the warde (that is to saye) the sonne of god dyd take mans nature in the wobe of the blessed virgyne Mariel so that there be "CONFESSYON OF THE FAYTH .•. " IN AMERICAN ENGLISH 367 two natures! a diuine nature & an humane nature in vnitie of parson inseparably conioyned and knytte! one Christel truely god! and truely man! borne of the vir­gyne Marie! truly sufferinge his passion! crucifyed! dead! and buryed! to thentent to brynge vs agayne into fauour with the father almyghty I and to thentent to be a sacrifyce and host nat only for Original synnesl but also for all actuall synnes of men. The same Christ went downe to the helles ... J -Also they teach, that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did take man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are Two Natures, the divine and the human, inseparably con­joined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, that he might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but for all actual sins of men. He also descended into hell .... Tr -duplicate of J, except that it sub­stitutes "assume" for "take." M -Our churches also teach that the Word -that is, the Son of God -took on man's nature in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. So there are two na­tures, divine and human, inseparably con­joined in the unity of his person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that he might reconcile the Father to us and be a sacrifice not only for original guilt but also for all actual sins of men. He also descended into hell. ... AUGSBURG CONFESSION, ARTICLE IV T -of iustifycation. Also they teache that men can nat be made ryghtuous in the syght of God by theyr owne proper powers merites or woekesl but yt they be freely iustifyed for Christes sake throughe fayth! when they beleue that they be take agayn into fauour and that theyr synnes be forgyuen for Christes sakel who with his dethe hathe sadsfyed for our synnes. Thys fay the god reputeth and taketh in stede of ryghtwysnes before hym. As Paule teacheth in the thyrde & fourth chapiters to the Romans. J -Also they teach, that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, hath made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4. Tr-virtually identical with J. M -Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ's sake through faith when they believe that they are re­ceived into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in his sight (Rom. 3,4). AUGSBURG CONFESSION, ARTICLE X T -Of the sacramet of the Aulter. Of the souper of the lorde they teach that the bodie and blode of Christe be verely present and be distributed to the eaters I the souper or maiidy of the lorde and dysproue them that teache other wyse. J -Of the Supper of the Lord, they teach, that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat in the Supper of the Lord; and they disapprove of those that teach otherwise. 368 "CONFESSYON OF THE FA YTH . . ." IN AMERICAN ENGLISH Tr -Slightly different punctuation and the substitution of "reject" for "disap­prove." Otherwise the same as J. M -Our churches teach that the body and blood of Christ are truly present and are distributed to those who eat in the Supper of the Lord. They disapprove of those who teach otherwise. Since the Henkel text and Muhlenberg both offer translations of the German, a brief comparison between these two may be presented: H -A. C. IX: Respecting baptism it is taught, that it is necessary; that grace is offered through it; and that children also ought to be baptized, who through such baptism are presented to God, and become pleasing to him. Therefore the Anabaptists are con­demned, who teach that infant baptism is not proper. M -It is taught among us that Bap­tism is necessary and that grace is offered through it. Children, too, should be bap­tized, for in Baptism they are committed to God and become acceptable to him. On this account the Anabaptists who teach that infant Baptism is not tight are rejected. Finally, a sample from the Formula of Concord, at random: EPITOME VII, 12 H The second: That the right hand of God is everywhere, at which Christ, according to his human nature, is seated, in deed and in truth, and reigns present, and has in his hands and under his feet, all that is in heaven and on earth; where no man nor angel, but the Son of Mary alone, is seated; hence he is also able to perform that which we assert. J -The second: That God's right hand is everywhere; at which Christ is in deed and in truth placed according to his hu-man nature, [and therefore] being present rules, and has in his hands and beneath his feet everything that is in heaven and on earth [as Scripture says (Eph. 1: 22) ] : There [at this right hand of God) no man else, or angel, but only the Son of Mary, is placed; whence he can effect this [those things which we have said]. Tr -~ Almost identical with J. M-The second ground is: God's right hand is everywhere. Christ, really and truly set at this right hand of God according to his human nature, rules pres­ently and has in his hands and under his feet everything in heaven and on earth. No other human being, no angel, but only Mary's Son, is so set down at the right hand of God, whence he is able to do these things. It would appear that the English render­ings of the Triglot are the least original of them alL F. Bente, one of the editors, ac­knowledges that his English text rests "chiefly" on that of Jacobs.s Although none of the versions presents any particular difficulty to understanding, and although all of them undoubtedly com­municated well enough to their time, none but the last rolls quite smoothly off the mid-twendeth-century American tongue or falls quite harmoniously on the ear. Trans­lation of foreign thoughts and foreign words is never a simple task, but it is grueling labor. According to the tired but still true cliche, a work "loses something in translation," either in idiom or content, or both. Within these limitations all prior versions were praiseworthy achievements. Unique in its field is the trilingual edition of the T1'iglot Concordia. But all former translations, including the Triglot, were 8 Cf. Tdglot, Preface, p. iii. "CONFESSYON OF THE FAYTH •.. " IN AMERICAN ENGLISH 369 prepared before a vast amount of critical and historical study and some significant new manuscript discoveries, particularly affecting the Augsburg Confession, shed new light on both text and content. The results of these valuable new researches are reflected in the magnificent monument to the quadricentennial of the Augsburg Con­fession, the so-called lubilaumsausgabe of the Lutheran Symbols.9 The latest translation, appearing less than a year ago, had the benefit of all the accumulated scholarly studies since the issue of the Triglot. Under the editorship of Theodore Tappert, Lutheran scholar and experienced translator, a team of distin­guished experts from among American Lu­theran scholars, namely, Robert H. Fischer, Jaroslav J. Pelikan, and Arthur Carl Piep­korn, collaborated with the editor in the production of this modern American Book of Concord.lO In my opinion the new Concordia deserves to supersede all its predecessors from Taverner on. The trans­lators have in the main combined an ad­mirable fidelity to content with felicity in idiom. Standing on the shoulders of their predecessors they could see a farther hori­zon. Brief historical introductions, together with a footnote apparatus, facilitate reading 9 Die Bekenntnisschri/ten der evangelisch­lutherischen Kirche, herausgegeben im Gedenk­jah! de! Augsburgischen Konfession 1930; 3. verbesserte Auflage ( Goettingen: Vanden­hoeck & Ruprecht, 1956). 10 The translation efforts of the late John C. Mattes, beginning with 1940, are acknowledged in the Foreword, p. v. lowe it to the researches of Geo. Nicke1sburg, Concordia Seminary stu­dent, to be able to call attention also to the considerable preliminary activities of the late Frederick E. Mayer, Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, in promotion of the translation project. Mayer's efforts were brought into relation to the work of Mattes. with understanding. In view of the official character of both Latin and German texts in the Augsburg Confession, both are offered in complete translation. Most prior versions rested either on the Latin alone or offered a combination, by means of bracketed interpolations, of both texts, a practice which frequently impeded reading. All other symbols in this new edition are translations of the respective originals, the Apology and the Treatise, or Tractate, from the Latin, the Smalcald Articles, Luther's Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord from the German. Important variations are noted in the apparatus. Comprehensive textual and topical indexes provide inval­uable aids to systematic study. The four translators cannot be expected to speak English in precisely the same way, and therefore certain stylistic levels even be­yond the disparities in the original authors were inevitable. In spite of this, the col­laborators have achieved a high plateau of general excellence. The 16th-century "fay the of the Germaynes" now speaks to 20th-century American Christians with re­markable freshness and vigor. Yet this book must not be the last word, even for our time. Our generation may not require major revisions, but public demand for this book should be so great and con­tinuous that frequent reprints should be necessary, affording frequent opportunities for improvement. There will be no need for belaboring minutiae, such as typograph­ical errors, the occasional omission of a phrase from the original,ll here and there 11 E. g., Tr. 72, p. 332, omits the important phrase from the original, "adhibitis suis pasto­ribus." The translation of SA III II 4, p. 303, has no equivalent for the original, "mit Furch­ten und aHem." The explanation of the Second Article in Luther's Small Catechism uses the 370 "CONFESSYON OF THE FA YTH ... " IN AMERICAN ENGLISH a dubious choice of words. The alert reader will catch these items himself. More im­portant is the omission of the Catalog of Testimonies, which played a considerable role in Lutheran Christological discussions and was included in the earliest editions of the Book of Concord. This omission is a regrettable oversight, but one which could easily be remedied in future editions. One could debate the adequacy of the rather sparse historical introductions as well as of the footnotes, depending on the circle of readers for whom the book is primarily intended. The average layman might want further explanations of the explanations or dispense with them entirely, whereas the serious student might look for fuller ref­erence to the sources. But perhaps the latter would want to go to the critically edited originals anyway. In the total perspective these are rela­tively minor strictures, however. They must not be allowed to obscure the very real merits of this work. There is now no excuse for the Lutheran parishioner of average intelligence and education to ne­glect a study of the historic formulations verbs "redeemed," "delivered," and "freed," which seem to reproduce the secondary Latin "redemit" and "liberavit" rather than the pri­mary German erioset, erworben, ge1(lOnnen. Also, the translation has the order "silver and gold," which is contrary to both the German Gold oder Silber and the Latin auro aut argento. The subtitle of the Table of Duties, p.354, speaks of "etlicher Spriiche fUr allerlei heilige Orden und Stande." There seems to be no cogent reason for the omission of "heilige" in the translation, "for various estates and condi­tions of men." of his faith, and certainly there is none for the Lutheran pastor not to incite his people to such study. The quadricentennial of the death of Philip Melanchthon, a major author of Lutheran confessional writings, and the current revival of interest in John Calvin, a signer of the Augsburg Confes­sion and the leader of a major divergence from Lutheranism, should stimulate a gen­uine resurgence of interest in, and study of, the Lutheran Symbols. But anniversary or no, Lutherans should always be at home in their church's creeds. Lutherans cannot in­telligently invite others into their spiritual home or meaningfully inspect the homes of others before they know where they themselves live and before they can appre­ciate the virile beauties of their own eccle­siastical domicile. However, with the clear voice of their confessions that stand in dynamic continuity with the "universal Christian church," Lutherans are in a sin­gularly advantageous position to speak a constructive word for true ecumenicity. Large sections of the Lutheran Symbols are admirably suitable for private and family devotions. They can be prayed through. Stripped of all that is time-bound and transitory, the Lutheran Symbols speak as freshly and fruitfully, as authoritatively and appealingly, as reverently and rele­vantly, of the primary issues of our. one holy faith amid all the disrupting harass­ments of our time as they did when they were the "confessyon of the fayth of the Germaynes" 400 years ago. St. Louis, Mo.