A Documentary History of Lutheranism

Volumes 1 & 2

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Eric Lund, Mark Granquist
  • Minneapolis, MN : 
    Fortress Press
    , December
     824 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This multi-volume documentary history of Lutheranism is a remarkable achievement on several levels. The first is that the commentary beginning each chapter offers an excellent overview of the history of Lutheranism from the Reformation to the present. Secondly the 526 documents and the many illustrations chosen for inclusion in these volumes are time-period examples of the theology, piety, unity, and diversity of Lutheranism and the reactions to it by other Christians and the world. Those documents are primarily excerpts from longer texts. 

Certain theological topics repeatedly appear from differing perspectives in these volumes: justification, the authority of the Bible, the distinction between law and gospel, the relationship of faith and good works, the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, and the roles of the clergy and laity.

The first volume is a revision of an earlier book edited by Eric Lund entitled Documents from the History of Lutheranism 1517-1750(Fortress, 2002) that now includes a chapter on Lutheranism in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (1523-1738). 

The first volume of A Documentary History of Lutheranismprovides “biographical information” on “Lutheran leaders,” primary “accounts of major [Lutheran] events and trends,” explains “theological beliefs,” illustrates the religious life of the “common” people (including worship and devotional practices), and how Lutherans were viewed by others (xv-xvi). Volume1 covers the first two and a half centuries of Lutheran history (1517-1750).

The documents in volume 1 illustrate both the “cohesiveness” of Lutheranism and its “diversity” (vol. 1, xvi). The first volume is basically organized in chronological order. Each chapter begins with an introductory essay explaining the context for the documents and how each one relates to the others and to the trajectory of Lutheran history.

The first three chapters of volume 1 deal with Luther’s life, the early Lutheran movement, and the implementation of proposals for reform illustrated by catechisms, hymns, church orders, sermons, and other documents. Chapter 4 speaks of the Lutheran struggle for survival after Luther’s death, including excerpts from the texts of the Augsburg and Leipzig Interims (1548) and the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555). Chapter 5 documents the divisions that arose in Lutheranism following Luther’s death—including the Adiaphoristic, Majoristic, Synergistic, Flacian, Osiandrian, and Crypto-Calvinistic controversies and the Formula of Concord’sresponse to them. Chapter 6 gives readers a view of Lutheran theology in the age of orthodoxy. Examples of devotional literature and hymnody from the 17th century are provided in chapter 7. Chapter 8 gives readers an understanding of the teachings of Lutheran pietism centered in the work of Philip Jacob Spener. Documents from Scandinavian and Eastern European Lutheranism are in chapter 9. Around half of the documents in volume 1 were translated into English for the first time by Eric Lund.

The second volume of A Documentary History of Lutheranismbasically follows the chronological format of the first volume, but some chapters are organized around specific themes, including “developments in thought,” historical events, and the “development of religious institutions” (vol. 2, xvii).

The first chapter of the second volume overlaps with “the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy and Pietism” covered in the first volume to illustrate 17th century “developments in science and philosophy,” which “led to the eighteenth century Enlightenment” (vol. 2, xvii). Other chapters describe church life in the 18thand 19thcenturies (chapter 2) and Lutheran theological debates especially about the historical Jesus (chapter 3). Those debates are illustrated by excerpts from the work of Johann Bengel, Hermann Reimarus, David Strauss, J.C.K. von Hofmann, Martin Kahler, Wilhelm Wrede, Albert Schweitzer, Rudolph Bultmann, and Wolfhart Pannenberg. Chapter 4 documents the revitalization of Lutheranism in 19thcentury Europe with excerpts from Claus Harms, Ernst W. Hengstenberg, Wilhelm Loehe, and several Erlangen theologians. 

Lutheranism’s movement to North America (1619-1865) is set forth in chapter 5, including documents by Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, C.F.W. Walther, Samuel Simon Schmucker, Charles Porterfield Krauth, and Linka Preus, a Norwegian Lutheran pastor’s wife. Chapter 6 gives an overview of liberal Lutheranism in the 19th century. Lutheranism’s struggles during the two world wars are illustrated in chapter 7. Twentieth century Lutheran theology is documented in chapter 8. North American Lutheranism (1865-2016) is set forth in chapter 9 with documents on women’s ordination and Seminex. Scandinavian Lutheranism from 1750 to today is illustrated in chapter 10. The Lutheran church’s missionary movement into Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America is documented in chapter 11, including the pioneering work of Bartholomaeus Ziegenbalg in India. Lutheran involvement in ecumenism and inter-religious dialogueis catalogued in chapter 12. 

Editors Eric Lund and Mark Granquist divided work on the second volume. Lund prepared the chapters on “Lutheranism in continental Europe and the non-Western world,” and Granquist prepared “the chapters on America, Scandinavia, and inter-religious dialog” (vol. 2, xviii). About half of the documents in volume 2 appear in English for the first time.

Volume 1 includes  ahistorical chronology of Luther’s life (vol. 1, xxi-xxiv). Both volumes feature Lutheran historical chronologies (vol. 1, xxv-xxix, vol. 2, xx1-vviv) and bibliographies of English-language resources that can be used for further study by scholars, parish pastors, and laity (vol. 1, 271-76; vol. 2, 443-48).   

These volumes will primarily appear in seminary and college libraries, in parish libraries, and on the bookshelves of pastors. They are helpful resources for researching various periods of Lutheran history and for teaching a course on the history of Lutheranism using excerpts from the various documents therein. Lutherans and all others will have a better understanding of the scope, unity, and diversity of world Lutheranism after reading the introductory essays and documents in these books. Fortress Press, Eric Lund, and Mark Granquist are to be commended for preparing this resource.

About the Reviewer(s): 

Armand Boehme is Associate Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minnesota.

Date of Review: 
April 19, 2018
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Eric Lund is Professor of the History of Christianity at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, where he has taught for twenty years. His publications have concerned Reformation, the history of spirituality, and William Tyndale.

Mark Granquist is Associate Professor of Church History at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Previously, he taught at St. Olaf College (1992–2000) and Gustavus Adolphus College (2000–2007). Among other books, he is the author, with Maria Erling, of The Augustana Story: Shaping Lutheran Identity in North America (Fortress Press, 2008)


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