Book of Concord
|The Book of Concord|
Title page from the 1580 German Edition of the Book of Concord
|Author||Compiled by Jakob Andreae and Martin Chemnitz|
|Subject||Lutheranism, Doctrine of the Lutheran Church|
The Book of Concord or Concordia (1580) is the historic doctrinal standard of the Lutheran Church, consisting of ten credal documents recognized as authoritative in Lutheranism since the 16th century. They are also known as the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Book of Concord was published in German on June 25, 1580 in Dresden, the fiftieth anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession to Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg. The authoritative Latin edition was published in 1584 in Leipzig.
Those who accept it as their doctrinal standard recognize it to be a faithful exposition of the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures are set forth in the Book of Concord to be the sole, divine source and norm of all Christian doctrine.
Origin and arrangement
The Book of Concord was compiled by Jakob Andreae and Martin Chemnitz at the behest of their rulers, who desired an end to the religious controversies in their territories that arose among Lutherans after the death of Martin Luther in 1546. It was intended to replace German territorial collections of doctrinal statements, known as corpora doctrinæ (bodies of doctrine) like the Corpus doctrinæ Philippicum or Misnicum. This aim is reflected by the compilers' not calling it a corpus doctrinæ although it technically is one. The list of writings predating the Formula of Concord that would be included in The Book of Concord are listed and described in the "Rule and Norm" section of the Formula.
Following the preface written by Andreae and Chemnitz (1578–80) the "Three Ecumenical Creeds" were placed at the beginning in order to show the identity of Lutheran teaching with that of the ancient Christian church. These creeds were the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed, which were formulated before the East-West Schism of 1054, but the Nicene Creed is the western version containing the filioque.
The other documents come from the earliest years of the Lutheran Reformation (1529–77). They are the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, both by Philipp Melanchthon, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, his Smalcald Articles, Melanchthon's Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord, which was composed shortly before the publishing of the Book of Concord and intended for the same purpose: the pacification and unification of the growing Lutheran movement. The preface of the Book of Concord was considered to be the preface of the Formula of Concord as well.
The Augsburg Confession has singular importance
as the unanimous consensus and exposition of our Christian faith, particularly against the false worship, idolatry, and superstition of the papacy and against other sects, and as the symbol of our time, the first and unaltered Augsburg Confession, which was delivered to Emperor Charles V at Augsburg during the great Diet in the year 1530 ...
A recent book on Lutheranism asserts, "To this day ... the Augsburg Confession ... remains the basic definition of what it means to be a 'Lutheran.'"The Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise, and the Formula of Concord explain, defend, or serve as addenda to The Augsburg Confession.
- Preface (1579)
- The Three Ecumenical creeds.
- The Augsburg Confession of 1530
- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531)
- The Smalcald Articles of Martin Luther (1537)
- Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537)
- The Small Catechism of Martin Luther (1529)
- Luther's Marriage Booklet (1529) and Baptism Booklet (1526) were included as part of the Small Catechism in a few of the 1580 editions of the German Book of Concord
- The Large Catechism of Martin Luther (1529)
- Epitome of the Formula of Concord (1577)
- The Solid or Thorough Declaration of the Formula of Concord (1577).
- The Catalog of Testimonies was added as an appendix in most of the 1580 editions.
Context in Christendom
The simple Latin title of the Book of Concord, Concordia, (Latin for "an agreeing together") is fitting for the character of its contents: Christian statements of faith setting forth what is believed, taught, and confessed by the confessors "with one heart and voice." This follows St. Paul's directive: "that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10)(NKJV). Lutherans believe that the creeds and confessions that constitute the Book of Concord are not the private writings of their various authors:
Inasmuch, however, as they are in complete agreement with Holy Scripture, and in this respect differ from all other particular symbols i.e., denominational creeds and credal statements, the Lutheran confessions are truly ecumenical and catholic in character. They contain the truths believed universally by true Christians everywhere, explicitly by all consistent Christians, implicitly even by inconsistent and erring Christians. Christian truth, being one and the same the world over is none other than that which is found in the Lutheran confessions.
To this day the Book of Concord is doctrinally normative among traditional and conservative Lutheran churches, which require their pastors and other rostered church workers to pledge themselves unconditionally to the Book of Concord. They often identify themselves as "confessional Lutherans." They consider the Book of Concord the norma normata (Latin, "the normed norm") in relation to the Bible, which they consider the norma normans (Latin, "the norming norm"), i.e. the only source of Christian doctrine (God's authoritative word). In this view the Book of Concord, on the topics that it addresses, is what the church authoritatively understands God's authoritative word to say. This is also called a "quia" (because) subscription to the Lutheran confessions, i.e. one subscribes because the Book of Concord is a faithful exposition of the Scriptures. It implies that the subscriber has examined the Lutheran confessions in the light of the Scriptures in order to arrive at this position, which in the subscriber's view does not require the disclaimer implied in a "quatenus" (insofar as) subscription. One who subscribes the Lutheran confessions quatenus, insofar as they are a faithful exposition of the Scriptures, believes that there might be contradictions of the Scriptures in them. In some cases this is the manner of subscription of some other Lutheran churches, which regard the Book of Concord as an important witness and guide to the historical teachings of the Lutheran Church although not necessarily doctrinally binding. The largest Lutheran church to subscribe unconditionally to the Book of Concord is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland with 4.6 million members.
English translations of individual documents of The Book of Concord, notably The Augsburg Confession, were available since the 16th century. The first complete English translation of The Book of Concord was the 1851 Henkel edition followed by a second edition in 1854. These volumes included historical introductions.
Henry E. Jacobs and others published the next English version in 1882 with a revised "People's Edition" in 1911. The 1882 edition was accompanied by a companion volume that contained historical introductions and English translations of other documents illustrative of the history of The Book of Concord.
The third English edition was published as a jubilee observance of the 400th anniversary of the Reformation (1917) along with the German and Latin texts as the 1921 Concordia Triglotta: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, German-Latin English edited by Friederich Bente. A smaller edition with just the English text was also published.
With the appearance of the 1930 Bekenntnisschriften critical text a new English version was deemed desirable. This was begun but left unfinished by John C. Mattes, who died in 1948. Theodore G. Tappert as general editor and translator produced the 1959 "Tappert Edition" along with Jaroslav Pelikan, Robert H. Fisher, and Arthur Carl Piepkorn.
An extensive revision of the Tappert Edition came out in 2000 translated and edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert. As with the Tappert Edition, the "Kolb-Wengert Edition" was translated by scholars from two different Lutheran denominations (the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
The most recent English version of the Book of Concord was published in 2005 to commemorate the 425th anniversary of the publication of the Book of Concord, and the 475th anniversary of the presentation of The Augsburg Confession.It is a revision of the English text of the Concordia Triglotta and entitled Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions—A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord and edited by Paul T. McCain, Edward A. Engelbrecht, Robert C. Baker, and Gene E. Veith. A second edition followed in 2006.
- Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch=lutherischen Kirche. Herausgegeben in Gedenkjahr der Augsburgischen Konfession 1930. 12th edition. Göttingen: Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1998. ISBN 978-3-525-52101-4 (Critical text of the original German and Latin Book of Concord)
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Theodore G. Tappert, translator and editor. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959. ISBN 0-8006-0825-9. (First English translation of The Book of Concord texts as published in Die Bekenntnisschriften) [Called "Tappert" or the "Tappert Edition" for short]
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, editors. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8006-2740-7. (Second English translation of The Book of Concord texts as published in Die Bekenntnisschriften. The source of its translation of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession is not the official 1584 Latin Book of Concord text, which had been the basis of the 1959 "Tappert Edition" English translation of the Apology [the later "octavo edition" text of 1531 rather than the earlier "quarto edition" text of 1531 is utilized; however, the variant readings of the quarto edition appear in italics].
- Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions — A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. Paul Timothy McCain, general editor. second edition. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006. ISBN 0-7586-1343-1. (A modern language version of the English text of Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: CPH, 1921 interspersed with explanatory notes)
- Concordia Triglotta: The Symbolical Books of the Ev. Lutheran Church, German-Latin-English. F. Bente, editor. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921. (This trilingual version had been reprinted by Northwestern Publishing House until recently)
- F. Bente, ed. and trans., Concordia Triglotta, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), p. i
- F. Bente, ed. and trans., Concordia Triglotta, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921), p. 5.
- Formula of Concord, Epitome, Rule and Norm, 1 (Bente, op. cit., 777)
- Robert Kolb et al., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 481-485.
- F. Bente writes in his Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, §1: "Book of Concord, or Concordia, is the title of the Lutheran corpus doctrinae, i.e., of the symbols recognized and published under that name by the Lutheran Church" (F. Bente, ed. and trans., Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 3). The German Wikipedia article de:Konkordienbuch states: "In diesem Sinne kann es auch als Kanon oder Corpus doctrinae der lutherischen Kirche bezeichnet werden": "In this sense it can also be described as the canon or corpus doctrinæ of the Lutheran Church." The Kolb-Wengert edition of the Book of Concord states: "The authors of the Formula of Concord responded to objections from followers of Melanchthon who treasured the Corpus doctrinae Philippicum, and therefore they did not use the term corpus doctrinae when they prepared the Formula for publication with the ancient creeds of the church, the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, and Luther’s Smalcald Articles and Catechisms after the completion of the Formula in 1577" (Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds. and trans., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000, p. 2).
- Theodore G. Tappert, trans and ed. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 503-506; Kolb, op cit., 526-529
- Tappert, op. cit., 3, note 1
- ibidem, 17; Kolb, op. cit., 19.
- Tappert, op. cit., 3, ftn. 1.
- Tappert, op. cit., 465.
- Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand, The Genius of Luther's Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 16.
- ibidem, 8, note 9; 97-98; 287ff.; 319; 465; 504-505.
- See the The Book of Concord, edited by Kolb and Wengert (2000) and the second edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confesions (2006).
- Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), 402 sub loco.
- F. Bente, Historical Introduction to the Lutheran Confessions, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House: 1921, pp. 3, 23, 24, 46, 247; Edmund Schlink, Theology of the Lutheran Confessions, Paul F. Koehneke and Herbert J. A. Bouman, trans., (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961; reprint, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004), xvii–xviii.
- ibid., p. 3 words in square brackets added for clarity.
- C. F. W. Walther, Why Should Our Pastors, Teachers and Professors Subscribe Unconditionally to the Symbolical Writings of Our Church
- Kirkkolaki (1054/1993). 1:1–2 §. Retrieved 10-11-2007. (Finnish)
- Kirkkojärjestys (1055/1993). 1:1 §. Retrieved 10-11-2007. (Finnish)
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Theodore G. Tappert, editor, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), v.
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), vii-viii.
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), viii.
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 107-109.
- Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Paul McCain, ed., St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.
- The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds., (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 108-109
- Bente, Friedrich. Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1921). New reprint edition. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995. ISBN 0-570-03262-8.
- Cook, Martin L. The Open Circle: Confessional Method in Theology. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1991. xiv, 130 p. N.B.: Discusses the place of Confessionalism in Lutheranism and in other Protestant thought. ISBN 0-8006-2482-3
- Fagerberg, Holsten. A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529–1537). Translated by Gene Lund. Paperback Edition. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1988. ISBN 0-570-04499-5.
- Forell, George W. The Augsburg Confession: A Contemporary Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1968. LOC 68-25798.
- Formula of Concord, The: Quadricentennial Essays. The Sixteenth Century Journal 8 (1977) no. 4. ISSN 0361-0160.
- Grane, Lief. The Augsburg Confession: A Commentary. Translated by John H. Rasmussen. Minneapolis, Augsburg Publishing House, 1986. ISBN 0-8066-2252-0.
- Kolb, Robert and Charles P. Arand. The Genius of Luther's Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8010-3180-9.
- Kolb, Robert and James A. Nestingen, eds. Sources and Contexts of The Book of Concord. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8006-3290-7.
- Robert Kolb: Die Konkordienformel. Eine Einführung in ihre Geschichte und Theologie, Oberursler Hefte Ergänzungsband 8, Edition Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-7675-7145-7
- Preus, Jacob A.O. The Second Martin: The Life and Theology of Martin Chemnitz. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
- Preus, Robert D. and Wilbert H. Rosin, eds. A Contemporary Look at the Formula of Concord. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978. ISBN 0-570-03271-7.
- Preus, Robert D. Getting Into the Theology of Concord. Reprint. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
- Preus, Robert D. Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism: Volume I. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1972. ISBN 0-570-04545-2.
- Reu, Johann Michael. The Augsburg Confession. Reprint. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995.
- Schlink, Edmund. Theology of the Lutheran Confessions. Translated by P. Koehneke and H. Bouman. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961. Reprint, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004.
- Schmauk, Theodore. The Confessional Principle and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. Translated by C. Theodore Benze. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, Reprint 2005.
- The Sixteenth Century Journal 11 (June 25, 1980) no. 3: 450th Anniversary Augsburg Confession. ISSN 0361-0160.
- Wengert, Timothy J. A Formula for Parish Practice: Using the Formula of Concord in Congregations. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-8028-3026-9.
- Ziegler, Roland F., "The New Translation of the Book of Concord: Closing the barn door after ...," Concordia Theological Quarterly 66 (April 2002) 2:145-165 (Available online: .
- Article on Lutheran Confessions in the Christian Cyclopedia
- Lutheran Scholarly and pastoral essays on the Lutheran Confessions from the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library
- Why Bible-Believing Lutherans Subscribe to the Book of Concord (classic example of a quia perspective)
- Concordia Triglotta, by Theodore Graebner from the October 1921 Theological Monthly
English versions online
- 1851 Henkel Book of Concord first edition
- 1854 Henkel Book of Concord second edition
- 1911 Jacobs "People's edition" Book of Concord
- 1921 Bente Concordia Triglotta English text
- 1921 Bente Concordia Triglotta PDF
- 1959 Tappert Book of Concord (Google books)
- 2000 Kolb-Wengert Book of Concord (Google books)