Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions

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Timothy J. Wengert, Mark A. Granquist, Mary Jane Haemig, Robert Kolb, Mark C. Mattes, Jonathan Strom
  • Ada, MI: 
    Baker Academic
    , August
     880 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The greatest challenge faced by published dictionaries in the digital age is undoubtedly the competition of free online resources such as Wikipedia. It is therefore a thrill to come across the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions by Baker Academic, which far exceeded my expectations and proves the value of encyclopedia resources written and developed by professionals in the academy. Edited by Timothy J. Wengert, the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Tradition is an invaluable resource for students, pastors, and even veteran scholars of Luther and Lutheran traditions.

The Dictionary of Luther excels by bringing a broad range of content that effectively covers not only the life of Martin Luther and the remainder of the early-modern era, but also the global expansion of Lutheran traditions in the following centuries. All of this content benefits greatly from the truly impressive number of scholars who contributed to this volume. This allows for the work to make meaningful contributions beyond what the reader would easily be able to uncover using other resources. The prime examples of this are those entries that touch on subjects, places, and ideas so unique to the history of Luther and Lutheran traditions that even an internet search does not turn up results. For example, there are no English resources available online for Teodors Grinbergs, the first Latvian Lutheran archbishop, but the Dictionary of Luther includes a brief biography.

The knowledge of the authors within this volume also allows the work to speak authoritatively even on subjects that are well covered by other resources. The entries for subjects such as “Catholicism,” “Gospel,” and “Household” offer excellent introductions to these subjects as they relate to Luther and Lutheran traditions while also providing a bibliography that allows for further research. Finally, the breadth of the global coverage of varying Lutheran traditions is incredibly helpful. There are a large number of entries dealing with the expansion of Lutheranism to India, South America, and southeast Asia, with additional entries on the figures involved in these expansions, including both missionaries and local leadership. This emphasis on the global expansion of Luther’s ideas and thought and their diverse reception is evident even in the title of the work, which deliberately chooses the plural “Lutheran traditions” over the singular “Lutheranism.”

Overall, the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions is an incredibly valuable work that should be utilized by anyone exploring, studying, or writing on these topics. The volume could perhaps benefit from a table of contents, but the addition of an index is very helpful and undoubtedly was no easy task to compile. For trained scholars, students beginning to explore the impact of Luther’s movement, and even lay audiences interested in the history of Luther and Lutheran traditions, this is an exceptional work at a surprisingly affordable price.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Timothy J. Orr is assistant professor of history at Simpson University.

Date of Review: 
December 6, 2017
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Timothy J. Wengert is Ministerium of Pennsylvania Emeritus professor of church history at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He has authored or edited twenty books, including The Book of Concord (2000 translation, coedited with Robert Kolb). He received the Melanchthon Prize from the city of Bretten, Germany (Melanchthon's birthplace), for contributions to the field of Reformation scholarship and has written over one hundred articles. He is also associate editor for the Lutheran Quarterly and has pastored churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Mark A. Granquist is associate professor of church history at Luther Seminary.

Mary Jane Haemig is professor of church history and director of the Reformation Research Program at Luther Seminary.

Robert Kolb is Mission Professor of systematic theology emeritus at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including The Genius of Luther's TheologyLuther and the Stories of GodMartin Luther: Confessor of the Faith, and The Christian Faith: A Lutheran Exposition. Kolb is also coeditor of The Book of Concord (2000 translation). He has lectured at more than forty educational institutions on five continents and at many ecclesiastical gatherings. Since 1996 he has been Gastdozent at the Lutherische Theologische Hochschule in Oberursel, Germany.

Mark C. Mattes is professor of philosophy and religion at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. He previously served parishes in Illinois and Wisconsin. Mattes has authored, edited, or translated a number of books and is an associate editor of the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions. He also serves as associate editor for Lutheran Quarterly and as a contributing editor for Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology.

Jonathan Strom is professor of church history, associate dean of faculty and academic affairs, and director of international initiatives at Candler School of Theology, Emory University.


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