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The Annotated Luther series

Fortress Press is excited to announce The Annotated Luther series, featuring seventy-five of Luther’s most essential writings in six volumes. Some new translations will be included along with updated translations based on Luther’s Works, American Edition. Each Luther selection will be accompanied by the following:

  • A new updated introduction
  • Annotations designed to provide key contextual background for people, events, and theological issues and controversies; interpretive notes; and Scripture references to which Luther alludes but which he does not include in the text
  • Translation notes and references to sources cited

In each volume the written annotations will be supplemented and enhanced by the use of maps, illustrations, timelines, art, and photos. The pages are designed for maximal visual interest and to help the reader navigate the content easily. The volumes in the series will feature the collaborative work of over forty scholars of Luther, the Reformation, and other related disciplines, all under the direction of a team of leading scholars. These volumes will be an essential reference tool for students at all levels, as well as an engaging and accessible resource for pastors and interested lay readers who want to explore and teach Luther and his writings with greater depth and clarity.

 

Explore the books

Annotated Luther sample pages 1

Annotated Luther sample pages 2

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Editors

Timothy J. Wengert
Timothy J. Wengert

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Kirsi I. Stjerna
Kirsi I. Stjerna

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Paul W. Robinson
Paul W. Robinson

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

Mary Jane Haemig
Mary Jane Haemig

Luther Seminary

Hans J. Hillerbrand
Hans J. Hillerbrand

Emeritus, Duke University

Euan Cameron
Euan K. Cameron

Union Theological Seminary, New York

An Interview with the Editors

Creating a new six-volume collection of Luther's essential writings requires the many contributors and thousands of hours of research, writing, and editing. The Annotated Luther has over thirty contributors working with the guidance of six scholar editors, and Fortress staff, Scott Tunseth (General Editor for Reference). Here, Fortress Press asks the editors about their work.

Contributors

Kenneth G. Appold, Princeton Theological Seminary
Dennis Bielfeldt, Institute of Lutheran Theology
Amy Nelson Burnett, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Wanda Deifelt, Luther College
James Estes, Victoria College, University of Toronto
Kurt K. Hendel, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Suzanne Hequet, Concordia University, St. Paul
Erik H. Herrmann, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Gordon Jensen, Lutheran Theological Seminary Saskatoon
Anna Marie Johnson, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Ken Jones, Grand View University
Susan C. Karant-Nunn, University of Arizona
Robert A. Kolb, Emeritus, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
Beth Kreitzer, Belmont Abbey College
Kristen E. Kvam, Saint Paul School of Theology
Jussi Koivisto, University of Helsinki
Dirk G. Lange, Luther Seminary
Volker Leppin, University of Tübingen
Martin J. Lohrmann, Wartburg Seminary
Eric Lund, St. Olaf College
Piotr J. Malysz, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Mark C. Mattes, Grand View College
Mickey L. Mattox, Marquette University
John Maxfield, Concordia University College of Alberta
Robert G. Moore, Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church
Ashley Null, Cambridge University and St. John’s College, Durham University
Beth Plummer, Western Kentucky University
Simo Peura, Bishop of the Diocese of Lapua, Finland
Paul Rorem, Princeton Theological Seminary
John D. Roth, Goshen College
Brooks Schramm, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
Mark D. Tranvik, Augsburg College
Dorothea Wendebourg, Humboldt University of Berlin
Else Marie Wiberg-Pedersen, Aarhus University

An Interview with the Contributors

Creating a new six-volume collection of Luther's essential writings requires the expert work of over thirty contributors. Here, Fortress Press asks the contributors what they think sets this annotated and illustrated series apart, why it is important to read Luther's writings in the twenty-first century, and what they hope students and others will take away from their contributions to the series. Read the interview here!

Images

Luther preaching Christ

This altarpiece painting in Wittenberg church by Cranach illustrates Luther preaching and illustrates how Christ is to be at the center of a sermon, wherein Christ comes to us and we are brought to Christ.

Figure 4.1

Title-page woodcut for Luther’s sermon on indulgences and grace, showing a man approaching a church building with rosary in his left hand and perhaps a slip of paper in his right.

Martin Luther's parents

Portraits of Luther's father Hans and mother Margaretha painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1527.

Annotated Luther Figure 2.4

Indulgence for priests and other clergy issued at the insistence of J. Tetzel, to support the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and to repay the loan with which Albert of Brandenburg obtained the pallium.

Annotated Luther Figure 1.4

The title page of Exsurge Domine, the papal bull excommunicating Luther, promulgated in Rome in 1520.

Annotated Luther Figure 2.6

The single-sheet printing of the Ninety-Five Theses by Michael Lotter in Liepzig. Now in the National Library in Berlin.

Figure 6.3

Portrait of Martin Luther (1483-1546) from the German translation of The Babylonian Captivity of the Church by the artist Hans Baldung Grien (d. 1545) depicting the reformer as an Augustinian monk expounding on the Bible.

Figure 7.4

This engraving of the crucifixion is by the artist Hans Schäufelein (ca. 1480 - ca. 1539), as found in Martin Luther’s Operationes in Psalmos of 1519.

Figure 9.2

Image of infant baptism from a 1545 printing of Luther’s Small Catechism

Figure 11.1

This historiated title-page border of Luther’s Treatise on Good Works features the crest of the printer, Melchoir Lotter, the Younger, at the foot. It has been attributed to Lucas Cranach, the Elder, or to his workshop.

Figure 12.2

Luther is shown as an Augustinian monk debating the pope, a cardinal, a bishop, and another monk at the Diet of Worms in 1521.

 Jacobus Latomus

Jacobus Latomus (c.1475-1544) was a distinguished member of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Leuven and an adviser to the Inquisition.

Duke John Frederick

Portrait of Duke John Frederick by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531.

A title page of Hieronymous Emser's translation of the New Testament

A title page of Hieronymous Emser's translation of the New Testament into German, published 1527 in Dresden, Saxony.

The title page of Luther's On the Bondage of the Will.

The title page of Luther's On the Bondage of the Will.

Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam with Renaissance Pilaster Hans Holbein the Younger (1498-1543).

Wenceslaus Linck

Wenceslaus Linck, the publisher of the Confession of Faith, had been an Augustinian monk and professor at Wittenberg along with Luther, and was a pastor in Nuremberg.

Katharina von Bora

Portrait of Luther's wife Katharina von Bora painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1530.

Philipp Melanchthon

A portrait of Philipp Melanchthon by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).

Johannes Bugenhagen

In this painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Johannes Bugenhagen, Luther's friend and confessor in Wittenburg, is pictured holding the keys of the kingdom.

Related Resources

Discussion Guides

Volume 1

Volume 2

Resources on the Web

Reformation Resources from Fortress Press provides tools for learning about the Reformation for general readers, clergy, students, and academics
Refo500: The international platform for knowledge, expertise, ideas, products and events, specializing in the 500 year legacy of the Reformation
The History Channel on the Reformation
PBS on Martin Luther
The Met on the Reformation: Art of the Reformation
Khan Academy on the Reformation: Video introductions to the Protestant Reformation, including a focus on Martin Luther, varieties of Protestantism, and the Counter-Reformation
Timeline of the Protestant Reformation from www.protestantism.co.uk
Chart of Protestant Reformers from ReligionFacts
Virtual Museum of Protestantism

Endorsements

At once learned and highly accessible. . .

“As no other comparable series, The Annotated Luther provides the reader, whether lay or ordained, with a collection of the Wittenberg reformer’s most important writings that is at once learned and highly accessible. Here Luther’s works are presented in up-to-date translation with helpful introductions, explanatory notes, and engaging images. A must for the student and scholar of Luther alike!”

—Ronald K. Rittgers │ Valparaiso University

Provides a very welcome resource for meeting Luther again in the contemporary world. . .

“The Annotated Luther series provides a very welcome resource for meeting Luther again in the contemporary world. With language refreshed for our time, we can see more clearly Luther as a man who is actively grappling with a society undergoing dramatic challenges economically, religiously, and socially. By providing skilled commentary from scholars around the world and from diverse theological perspectives, this work will be of great help for modern Christians seeking to adapt and extend the insights from the Reformation to modern challenges.”

—Maria E. Erling │ Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

In sum, a signal achievement. . .

“The Annotated Luther series represents a finely crafted synthesis between readable primary texts and some of the best secondary scholarship. A superb editorial team, under the leadership of Hillerbrand, Stjerna, and Wengert, has made seventy-five selections, ranging from major treatises to sermons and letters, and beautifully laid these out in six volumes, together with state-of-the-art analyses and explanatory notes. Luther the theologian, the biblical interpreter, the pastor, the social/political thinker—all are given their due, and the resulting multidimensional portrait combines balance with a newly sharpened focus. In sum, a signal achievement.”

—Denis R. Janz │ Loyola University New Orleans

“This Annotated Luther series will facilitate easy access to Luther. . .”

“This Annotated Luther series will facilitate easy access to Luther, especially for those who could not do so in the German or Latin. This will be a great resource likely to be translated into many vernacular languages.”

—Kenneth Mtata │The Lutheran World Federation

Appealing layout, rich images, and erudite editorials. . .

Praise for Volume 1: The Roots of Reform

“The advent of The Annotated Luther series should be cause for celebration among scholars, pastors, students, and others eager to have easy access to so many of Martin Luther’s key writings. If the appealing layout, rich images, and erudite editorials featured in Volume 1 are an indication of what’s to come, then The Annotated Luther will quickly become the go-to resource for learning about Luther’s work and context.”

—Hans Wiersma │ Augsburg College

An excellent start to what promises to be a fine series. . .

Praise for Volume 1: The Roots of Reform

“This fine volume provides fresh translations of a dozen core Luther texts from the period 1517–1520. Public statements, sermons, major treatises, and letters that were previously scattered widely across five different volumes of the American Edition of Luther’s Works (plus the welcome addition of the lesser-known Sermon on Indulgences and Grace, which does not appear in LW) are brought together in a focused way so that the reader sees Luther’s theology develop in a more holistic manner, reflecting his work as a university professor, preacher, and church reformer. The introductions to the volume and to the individual writings combine historical context and theological themes in a thorough yet accessible manner; the annotations are both helpful and (unlike many academic notes) inviting to the eye. Wengert and his colleagues have produced a valuable text for classroom use and personal study. This is an excellent start to what promises to be a fine series.”

—Kathryn A. Kleinhans │ Wartburg College

I encourage you to include this series in your congregation’s library and use it for group or personal study. . .

Praise for Volume 1: The Roots of Reform

“As congregations and members of congregations face an increasingly more diverse and chaotic world, their struggle for what it means to be Christian in their context increases, not unlike Christians in Luther’s day. I am thrilled that Fortress Press is publishing The Annotated Luther, Volume I: The Roots of Reform. The individual works included in this volume are central to the particular witness Lutherans can share for a life of faith in the world and how it can be a witness of hope in the midst of pluralism and change. The essays and study tools, included alongside the original texts, bring these works to life for us today. I encourage you to include this series in your congregation’s library and use it for group or personal study.”

—The Rev. Gordon J. Straw │ Program Director for Lay Schools for Ministry, Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit, ELCA

The ideal volume for launching what promises to be a most helpful new series for twenty-first-century readers. . .

Praise for Volume 1: The Roots of Reform

The Roots of Reform is the ideal volume for launching what promises to be a most helpful new series for twenty-first-century readers looking to appropriate the thoughts of someone who wrote for an era five hundred years ago. This first volume deals with the writings that launched the Reformation and whose themes would shape Christian thought for decades—even centuries—to come. 

In the introduction, the editor Timothy Wengert again shows why he is one of the premier Reformation scholars of our generation when it comes to communicating the historical significance and pastoral value of Luther’s writings. Both he and the other editors of Luther’s writings do an outstanding job of providing helpful introductions (beyond a paragraph or two that barely scratches the surface), explanatory annotations, and maps. The layout of the volume deserves special mention for the way that it draws the reader into the text. In brief, this volume will be indispensable to anyone who wishes to understand better the early writings of the reformer, Martin Luther!”

—Charles P. Arand │ Concordia Seminary, St. Louis

A splendid, and eminently useful, achievement. . .

Praise for Volume 2: Word and Faith

"Professor Stjerna and her team of world-leading Reformation scholars have done us all a great service in fixing their eyes for detail and context onto these important writings of Luther. Those new to the Reformation saga and even those familiar with its events and debates will learn very much from these pages. By keeping readers honest to context when approaching Luther's theology, they invite church and academy to remain honest about their own missions, failings, and need for reform. A splendid, and eminently useful, achievement."

—Derek R. Nelson | Wabash College

A consummate edition of the intellectual production of a supreme theological mind. . .

Praise for Volume 2: Word and Faith

"This outstanding presentation of the core of Luther’s theology offers eight of his seminal works written over two decades, including those regarded by author as worthy of preserving for posterity. Magisterial introductions by internationally renowned theologians, editorial comments, artworks, prints, and proficient annotations bring forth the distinctiveness of the theology of the Wittenberg Reformer. Careful commentary of the translations adds to the uniqueness of the volume while all-embracing language highlights propriety. With this work, Luther studies have been aided with a consummate edition of the intellectual production of a supreme theological mind."

—Vítor Westhelle | Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

 Useful for instruction in church and classroom settings. . .

Praise for Volume 2: Word and Faith

"Luther's writings as contained in this fine collection are as helpful to read today as when he first wrote them to such a profound historical effect. They continue to be fertile for further theological reflection and biblical insight. Introductions and many marginal notes also explain items for better understanding—including those which criticize Luther, making this volume useful for instruction in church and classroom settings."

—Peter Krey | Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church, El Cerrito, California

Reviews

Review in Journal of Theological Studies (2017)

How can congregations best prepare for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017? We asked a group of pastors to provide feedback on how The Annotated Luther series could be put to use for adult education in congregations, and they enthusiastically replied with gracious praise for Volume 1: The Roots of Reform.

"With the publication of The Annotated Luther, reading Luther will never be the same. In these volumes, Luther's voice is refreshed for a twenty-first-century reading audience, providing a new level of accessibility to the postmodern reader. Accessible introductions to Luther's key writings provide helpful background to more deeply understand Luther's writings and their historical context. Additionally, annotations within the writings themselves provide the reader with helpful definitions and background at just the right moments. These annotations, like a helpful guide, keep the reader engaged and aid in understanding Luther's main points. Images of Luther's original works along with other artwork bring beneficial illustration to these volumes.

"The first volume in this series provides some of Luther's early and most enduring works that lay the cornerstone for much of Lutheran theology as it emerged throughout this period. As congregations prepare to celebrate Luther's legacy, this volume makes Luther's writings accessible for those new to his work, though does not spare on insights that will aid the experienced reader. These volumes are suited for both independent and group study. The introductions and annotations accompanying the updated translations of these writings will guide individuals and groups through the heart of Luther's theology that continues to shape the church and our life together."
The Rev. Robert A. Franek
Faith Lutheran Church
Wataga, Illinois



"Augsburg Fortress has chosen to give us a 500th birthday present—The Annotated Luther series. And what a present it is, even though at this point only two of its six envisioned volumes are ready for release. Timothy Wengert, who writes and annotates five of the first volume's twelve sections, is joined by four of the most fluent scholars of our day to assemble a resource that should find its place on the shelf of every rostered leader’s and congregational library. Wengert's passion for the subject and the project is obvious from the first page of the series introduction and is maintained throughout the work of these five historians to its final page. With eloquent yet accessible prose, each section of the twelve is introduced and framed in its historic and theological context. Even if one reads only the twelve introductory pieces of each of the volume's sections, one's understanding of the Reformation's progression from a fire in the belly of the solitary Augustinian monk Luther to a full-blown theological movement would be enhanced.

But don't settle for just those twelve introductions. The true depth and breadth of this series' contribution to current Reformation studies lies in its names—The Annotated Luther. Wengert and his team have rallied the very best resources of current scholarship, translations, and historic discoveries to provide us with a concise, comprehensive guide to all things precious in our Lutheran DNA. When speaking of its guiding principles, the introduction states clearly, 'The focus is on linguistic accuracy and Luther's intent.' It is difficult to imagine the hours these authors spent in poring over texts, translations, and resources to do this work so we don't have to.

This is not so much a book that one will read as one will use. A quick perusal of its contents—and perhaps even a thorough assimilation of what is available here—will make it a resource to which one returns again and again. Most pastors' dusty library shelves likely contain the materials covered in this initial series offering. But to have it gathered together in one place, introduced and contextualized with such passion, and annotated with such clarity makes this a valuable addition to one's Reformation resources. Even the order in which the various essays are arranged is instructive and provides theological accretion. When, for example, one is preparing a sermon or a class on baptism or the Eucharist, to be able to easily screen what Luther said and what it meant by consulting Dirk Lange's commentaries and annotations on Luther's own sermons is indispensable. I doubt that such reliable source material exists elsewhere, no matter how much one points and clicks.

What I love most about this resource is that it rekindled in me a passion for the Reformation and its deep traditions and heritage that the Reformer's convictions set into motion. In a time of our own incredible challenges to reform and rethink our place and our message in a world desperately in need of God, the rewards of exploring this resource were twofold. The Roots of Reform first reminded me of how deeply important it is to be wisely and cautiously immersed in the needs of the culture both within and outside the church's doors. More, it encouraged me with the timeless insights of the Reformation's rediscovery of the principle gifts of the church to the world—the saving Word and the sustaining Sacraments. If this series can rekindle our commitment to the world in need, as I believe it can, and reignite our passion for the core values of Lutheranism, then it is gift indeed. Happy birthday to us. Happy birthday to all."
Pastor Paul E. Hoffman
Author of
Faith Forming Faith and Faith Shaping Ministry
Seattle, Washington


 

Interviews

Paul W. Robinson discusses Luther's view of church and sacraments on Concordia Journal Currents

Books

The Annotated Luther, Volume 3: Church and Sacraments
Release date: August 1, 2016

Volume 3 of The Annotated Luther series presents five key writings that focus on Martin Luther's understanding of the gospel as it relates to church, sacraments, and worship. Included in the volume are: The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520); The German Mass and Order of the Liturgy (1526); That These Words of Christ, "This is my Body," etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics (1527); Concerning Rebaptism (1528), and On the Councils and the Church (1539).

The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520
Release date: June 15, 2016

In his The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Martin Luther set forth a reconsideration of the sacramental Christian life that centered on the word. His thesis is that the papacy had distorted the sacraments with its own traditions and regulations, transforming them into a system of control and coercion.

Treatise on Good Works, 1520
Release date: June 1, 2016

Timothy J. Wengert shows Luther’s Treatise on Good Works to be one of the clearest introductions to Luther’s reforming work and theology. Luther’s goal was to commend a new, down-to-earth piety to all Christians through a radically different meaning of good works that would transform the way believers practiced their faith.

The Large Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther, 1529
Release date: June 1, 2016

With great detail, Kirsi I. Stjerna introduces and annotates Luther’s Large Catechism, in which the reformer set out to offer a new compass for religious life. He believed all Christian people—laity and clergy—needed a guide to comprehend the basic biblical, creedal, and sacramental teachings.

The Freedom of a Christian, 1520
Release date: June 1, 2016

Timothy J. Wengert skillfully sheds light on Luther’s popular treatise. As controversy concerning his writings grew, Luther wrote a reconciliation-minded letter to Pope Leo X (1475–1521). To this letter he appended a nonpolemical tract describing the heart of his beliefs, The Freedom of a Christian.

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