The only one of Lutherís expository writings included in the original plan of this edition of Lutherís Works was the Exposition of the Magnificat. It was felt that this field was too large to be covered with any adequacy, without departing from the primary purpose of the edition, which was to give works of Luther to English readers in their entirety. The editors have made a second exception by including this Exposition of the Eighty-second Psalm.
There are two reasons that have led them to do this. The first is that this treatise is an admirable illustration of Lutherís exegetical method. He was not a scientific exegete in any modern sense. The establishment of the exact meaning of the text of Scripture was not for him an end in itself. He was concerned with existing situations in Church and society, and the improvement of those conditions; with existing problems of the spiritual life, and the solution of those problems. The study of the Scriptures was for him a means for the improvement of the conditions and the solution of the problems. The value of his expositions lies in the remarkable breadth and amazing variety of their applications, which often makes them treatises on things in general, rather than the kind of thing that we have learned to call commentaries.
The second reason that this Exposition has been included is that it deals with the problems of government. In Lutherís hands the Psalm becomes ďA Mirror for Magistrates.Ē In this mirror, rulers may see at once the ideal and the reality of government, the possibilities that open before those who are called upon to govern their fellowmen, and the woeful failure of the rulers of Lutherís generation to realize those possibilities. In the course of the discussion Lutherís theory of the State, and its relation to the Church comes to clear expression. This is especially important because of the fact that the Exposition was written and published in the year of the Diet of Augsburg, when the question of the relation of Church and State was vital to the continuance of the Reformation.
The treatise, like the Catechisms, seems to have owed its origin to the visitation of the Saxon churches, and the revelations concerning actual conditions which this visitation made. Luther was working at it before March 17, 1530. The section on the toleration of false doctrine was inserted, apparently at the suggestion of Lazarus Spengler, conveyed to Luther through Veit Dietrich. The whole work was completed before April 12, and probably before April 13, the date of Lutherís departure from Wittenberg for Coburg, where he spent the months of the Diet of Augsburg. The first Wittenberg edition was sold out before June 3rd. The popularity of the treatise is shown by the fact that before the end of two different Latin translations of it had been published.
The work is contained in Weimar Ed. 31: 189-218; Erlangen Ed. 39:224- 65; St. Louis Ed. 5:696-731. The translation is made from the Weimar text.
Literature in Weimar Ed., p. 185. Cf.KARL HOLL, Luther, 2 pp. 326-89.
CHARLES M. JACOBS.
MOUNT AIRY, PHILADELPHIA.