A Commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $1.95.
This is a new and very much abridged translation of the well-known commentary of Martin Luther on the epistle to the Galatians, by Theodore Graebner, professor of Philosophy and New Testament Interpretation at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
In the preface the author writes:
“The undertaking, which seemed so attractive when viewed as a literary task, proved a most difficult one, and at times became oppressive. The Letter to the Galatians consists of six short chapters. Luther’s commentary fills seven hundred and thirty octavo pages in the Weidman Edition of his works. It was written in Latin. We were resolved not to present this entire mass of exegesis. It would have run more than fifteen hundred pages, ordinary octavo (like this), since it is impossible to use the compressed structure of sentences which is characteristic of Latin, particularly of Luther’s Latin. The work had to be condensed. German and English translations are available, but the most acceptable English version, besides laboring under the handicaps of an archaic style, had to be condensed into half its volume in order to accomplish the ‘streamlining’ of the book.”
Naturally such severe condensation and “streamlining” could not very well be accomplished without the loss of some elements that are characteristic of Luther’s commentary, both as to contents and form.
Yet, I believe that the author has very well succeeded to give us a “condensed Luther.” Even in this “streamlined edition” the reader easily recognizes the characteristically robust style of the well-known reformer.
Let me quote a few passages.
“Man’s folly, however, is so prodigious that instead of embracing the message of grace with its guarantee of the forgiveness of sin for Christ’s sake, man finds himself more laws to satisfy his conscience. ‘If I live,’ says he, ‘I will mend my life. I will do this, I will do that’. Man, if you don’t do the very opposite, if you don’t send Moses and the Law back to Mount Sinai and take the hand of Christ, pierced for your sins, you will never be saved,” p. 149.
“The Law is not to have its say indefinitely. We must know how long the Law is to put in its licks. If it hammers away too long, no person would and could be saved. The Law has its boundary beyond which it must not go. How long ought the Law to hold its sway? ‘Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made. . . .’
“Spiritually, it means that the Law is not to operate on a person after he has been humbled and frightened by the exposure of his sins and the wrath of God. We must then say to the Law: ‘Mister Law, lay off him. He has had enough. You scared him good and proper.’ Now it is the Gospel’s turn. Now let Christ with His gracious lips talk to him of better things, grace, peace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life,” p. 150.
One more illustration:
“‘I am not angry with you,’ says Paul. ‘Why should I be angry with you, since you have done me no injury at all?’
“To this the Galatians reply: ‘Why, then, do you say that we are perverted, that we have forsaken the true doctrine, that we are foolish, bewitched, etc., if you are not angry? We must have offended you somehow.’
“Paul answers: ‘You Galatians have not injured me. You have injured yourselves. I chide you not because I wish you ill. I have no reason to wish you ill. God is my witness, you have done me no wrong. On the contrary, you have been very good to me. The reason I write to you is because I love you.
“The bitter potion must be sweetened with honey and sugar to make it palatable. When parents have punished their children they give them apples, pears, and other good things to show them that they mean well,” pp. 196, 197.
From these illustrations the reader may gather that the style is lucid and that the book offers easy reading.
It contains 282 pages.
We are glad to recommend this edition of Luther’s commentary on the epistle to the Galatians to our readers.
The Holy Spirit, by B. H. Carrol, D.D., LL.D. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. Price $1.50.
Mr. J. B. Cranfill, who is the editor of these sermons, composed by Dr. Carrol and compiled by Professor J. W. Crowder, writes in his “Foreword”:
“As I read and edited these pages I had the feeling that must have been in the heart of Moses when he stood by the burning bush, for I know that the ground covered by these great sermons is holy ground, and no man would dare lightly even to speak the name of God’s Holy Spirit.
“It is, therefore, with a deep sense of my own unworthiness that I venture to give this book to the public. B. H. Carrol, that noble, devoted, faithful servant of God, walked in the way of the highest, and it was fitting that he should leave for those of us, who followed on, this great volume of sermons on the Holy Spirit. There may be greater discussions on this sacred theme than those found in this volume, but if so I have never been fortunate enough to come upon them.”
I cannot agree with this evaluation of Dr. Carrol’s sermons.
True, the book causes us to know the author as a fervent preacher of the Word, with strong and definite convictions, as a preacher should have.
It is also true that these sermons contain material that is instructive and worth reading.
Nevertheless, it is my conviction that Dr. Carrol has not grasped the significance of Pentecost and presents to us an erroneous view of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the New Testament Church.
I would recommend the reading of this book only to those that have the power of discretion.