Monday, May 25, 2009

Untranslated German Works of Martin Luther (Including Two-Thirds of the Weimar Werke: "WA"): 20 New Volumes in English Forthcoming

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Vicar Chris Tiews of Grace Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Tulsa, has provided this interesting tidbit of information:
I have been a professional translator (German-English and English-German) since the late 1970s . . . Last year I translated some of Martin Luther’s—as yet untranslated—works for Concordia Publishing House. Amazingly, two thirds of Luther’s magnum opus (tens of thousands of pages of documents) have never been translated into the English language. I felt privileged to be among the handful translators in America asked to participate in this huge undertaking. It is estimated that it will take CPH at least twenty years before this gigantic translation project is completed.
I knew this to be the case almost twenty years ago, because the eminent catechist, scholar, and author, the late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (who received me into the Church and baptized my first two sons), expressed the same thing. I noted this in a February 2007 blog comment:
My mentor, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., used to say that there were a lot of Luther's writings still untranslated from the German.
And indeed, this is confirmed beyond all doubt by the Lutheran folks at Concordia Publishing House, who are overseeing an expansion of the 55-volume set of Luther's Works in English (alluded to above): with at least twenty more volumes being planned:
. . . it is a shame that only about one-third of his writings are available for readers in English.

But that is about to change. Concordia Publishing House is embarking on a historic project to translate and publish twenty volumes of Luther's Works that have never before been translated into the English language. . . . The first volume is scheduled to appear in 2009. . . .

For more information on the new series of Luther's Works: American Edition and to check our progress, please visit us on the Web at luthersworks.cph.org. . . .

Much of Luther remains inaccessible to English-speaking pastors, students, and laity.

The general editors of the original LW, Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, warned that "Luther's writings are not being translated in their entirety. Nor should they be." ["General Editor's Preface," Luther's Works: American Edition] . . . we judge that the time is opportune to reevaluate the selections originally made. Some genres of Luther's work, for instance, are notably underrepresented in LW. Only 178 of the more than 2000 surviving sermons . . . are included in LW . . . . there remains a substantial deficit of Luther's preaching in English. Luther's these for theological disputations, to take another example, are also far more extensive than the handful translated for the current American Edition. The new volumes of Luther's Works will provide a more balanced selection of Luther's activity. . . .

The twenty volumes of the new series will be arranged in nine divisions:

1. Early Works (1509 - c. 1521) 2 volumes

2. Disputations 2 volumes


3. Luther on the Psalms 3 volumes


4. Exegesis 5 volumes


5. Prefaces 1 volume


6. Theological and Polemical Writings (1521-1546) 1 volume

7. Sermons (1521-1546) 3 volumes


8. Letters 2 volumes


9. Biography 1 volume


Detailed description of the content of the new twenty volumes follows the overview (additional alternate URL).

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