The Psalms forced Martin Luther to change how he read the Bible.
In Psalms of the Faithful Brian German shows us Luther’s reappraisal of the plain sense of Scripture. By following the canonical shaping of the Psalter, Luther refined his interpretive principles into a more finely grained hermeneutic. Luther inspires us to read the Psalms empathetically with ancient Israelites and early church fathers. He stirs us up to join the “faithful synagogue” in praying to and praising the Lord our God.
According to many scholars, Luther established his approach to biblical exegesis on the claim that Jesus Christ is Scripture’s content and speaker. While Luther used this formulation in prefaces, how did he really read the Bible?
German applies pressure not only to how Luther scholars understand Luther’s interpretive method, but also to how modern biblical exegetes approach their task—and even to how we read the Bible.
In this important work on the Psalter, Brian German deploys a fascinating marriage of twenty-first-century canonical-historical reading with an investigation into the sixteenth-century exegetical instincts of Martin Luther. A careful serial reading of the canonical shape of the Psalter “pressured” a remarkable theological and pastoral break-through for the Protestant Reformer. German’s historically informed contribution opens up a fresh vista for theological exegesis in our day.
—Christopher Seitz, Senior Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto
With a keen sense of Luther’s fierce engagement with the biblical text, Brian T. German reconstructs the process by which the Bible came to vivid life in the embattled Reformer’s readings and rereadings of the text. German pays particular attention to Luther’s insistence on the subject matter of the Psalter as well as its rhythms. Psalms of the Faithful offers compelling insight into Luther’s understanding of the Old Testament as Christian Scripture. It is a welcome study in this anniversary year!
—Christine Helmer, Arthur E. Anderson Teaching and Research Professor, Professor of German and Religious Studies, Northwestern University
This exemplary study provides a well-organized, well-argued, and well-written contribution to the understanding of Luther as a Christian interpreter of the Old Testament.
—John W. Kleinig, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Theology, Australian Lutheran College
German’s study … offers a helpful corrective to what nowadays might be styled a “christotelic” reading of Luther’s early work on the Psalms, while also uncovering the importance of the Psalter’s literal sense for Luther’s approach to christology and ecclesiology. Engaging and brilliant.
—Don Collett, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Trinity School for Ministry
“‘Every prophecy and every prophet must be understood as referring to Christ the Lord, except where it is clear from plain words that someone else is spoken of.’” (Page 7)
“‘If the Old Testament can be interpreted by human wisdom without the New Testament, I should say that the New Testament has been given to no purpose.’” (Page 7)
“the ‘literal’ for Luther is none other than that which refers immediately to the words and deeds of Christ” (Page 9)
“Whatever is said literally concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as to His person must be understood allegorically of a help that is like Him and of the church conformed to Him in all things.” (Pages 9–10)
“unless the Lord enlightens me through your help, as I trust He will, I shall not be able to interpret them.’” (Page 3)
Studies in Historical and Systematic Theology is a peer-reviewed series of contemporary monographs exploring key figures, themes, and issues in historical and systematic theology from an evangelical perspective.
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Brian T. German (PhD, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin and Director of the Concordia Bible Institute. His main area of research is the history of biblical interpretation, particularly how premodern interpreters understood the presence of Christ in the Old Testament.