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Frequently Asked Questions about Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions-A Reader's Edition


With several English translations of the Book of Concord available, why create Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions?

There are various translations and editions of other texts for the church, most notably the Bible. Therefore, it is understandable that there will be, and should be, several editions of the Book of Concord. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is unique and unlike any other edition presently available because of its wealth of supplemental materials specifically included for the lay reader. Here is what Dr. C.F.W. Walther said about the importance of every Lutheran layman having a copy of the Book of Concord:

The Book of Concord should be in every Lutheran home. For that reason our church should provide a good, inexpensive copy, and pastors should see to it that every home has one. If a person isn’t familiar with this book, he’ll think, “That old book is just for pastors. I don’t have to preach. After working all day, I can’t sit down and study in the evening. If I read my morning and evening devotions, that’s enough.” No, that is not enough! The Lord doesn’t want us to remain children, who are blown to and fro by every wind of doctrine; instead of that, He wants us to grow in knowledge so that we can teach others. (Essays for the Church, Vol. II, pg. 51).

Why didn’t Concordia Publishing House use the Tappert or the Kolb/Wengert traslations of the Book of Concord in creating Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

The Tappert and Kolb/Wengert translations of the Book of Concord are owned by another Lutheran publisher. Our goal with Concordia was to provide a more affordable edition of the Lutheran Confessions than was currently available. To accomplish that goal, Concordia Publishing House needed to avoid royalty payments for another publisher’s translation, which would add to the cost of a new edition. Since the Concordia Triglotta (CPH, 1921) provided an older, reliable, and respected English translation of the Book of Concord—one originally commissioned by the LCMS—Concordia determined it was prudent to make use of that translation.

Is Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions a brand new, from scratch, translation of the Latin and German found in the Concordia Triglotta?

No. It is an updated, conservative revision of William H. T. Dau and Gerhard Friedrich Bente’s English translation found in the Concordia Triglotta. All existing English translations of the Book of Concord use previous English translations, as acknowledged in their respective prefaces. For example, the Tappert edition acknowledges previous editions. The Kolb/Wengert edition describes itself as an extensive revision of the Tappert edition while also making use of other previous English editions. And so, Concordia:The Lutheran Confessions acknowledges with thanks the work of Dau and Bente, who also drew on Henry Eyster Jacob’s translation. We also payed attention to the work of other translators, to see how they chose to deal with challenging words and phrases, but clearly this edition is a modest revision of the Dau/Bente English translation in the Triglotta.

The English version of the Concordia Triglotta presents both the Latin and the German texts together. For example, the English translation of the Apology is based on the Latin text. Translated portions of the German text are included in brackets to provide clarification. How was this handled in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions?

The bracketed material was generally not included in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. However, when an editor felt English words or phrases needed further clarification, the bracketed material was consulted. The Concordia Triglotta provided both the Latin and German texts of our Confessions. This was not the goal or intention of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. We focused on the base text for each confessional document.

Were the Latin or German texts in the Concordia Triglotta consulted by the editors in updating the English translation?

Yes. The Latin and the German were consulted by the editors when the original English translation needed further clarification, with reference to the latest critical edition of the Lutheran Confessions Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche

Why not just offer the English version of the Concordia Triglotta without updating the text?

The ConcordiaTriglotta translation reflects the English style and manner of persons who grew up speaking German and were fluent in Latin, and who brought that knowledge and background to their English translation completed in 1921. As a result, ConcordiaTriglotta has an antiquarian quality that can make it more difficult to read for twenty-first century English speakers. We believe an updated English text, along with many other helpful features, will encourage lay reading of the Confessions. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is not an academic, “critical edition” of the Book of Concord. Such versions are important and will continue to have their place. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is specially designed for to be parish-friendly and lay-friendly. This is why we call it “A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord.”

Is Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions intended to replace the Concordia Triglotta, the Tappert edition, or the Kolb/Wengert edition of the Book of Concord?

No. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is not intended, or designed, to replace any existing edition of the Book of Concord. It is different from any existing edition, as readers will quickly notice. Each edition will stand on its own and serve the needs of the Lutheran Church and others in various ways. We are grateful to have several different editions to aid the use and understanding of the Lutheran Confessions.

Did Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions undergo the Doctrinal Review process of The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod?

Yes. It was sent through the Synod’s doctrinal review process and was approved. (This is required of all Concordia Publishing House resources.) In addition to the doctrinal reviewer system, outside readers were asked to review and react to the content, providing useful insights resulting in helpful improvements.

What makes Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions unique?

Our goal was to provide an affordable edition of the Book of Concord to the Church, with features that helped people understand the meaning and importance of the Book of Concord. Features that are found only in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions include:

  • Over 115 black and white illustrations
  • 32 color plates
  • Historic timelines for the entire Reformation era and for each confessional document
  • A map showing key cities and places in the Reformation era
  • Explanations and annotations throughout to guide reading and to aid understanding
  • An extensive index of references and allusions to Scripture in the Book of Concord, the most comprehensive available in any edition
  • A one-year reading guide
  • A winsome typesetting and beautiful binding to enhance the reading experience
  • In the introductions, a key focus is on helping the church’s laypeople understand and appreciate the role laypeople played in the Reformation. Courage, sacrifice, and heroism marked this era as exhibited by laypeople, who were willing to risk their very lives rather than compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is priced well below any other edition of the Book of Concord presently available. This makes it a viable choice for those who understand how important it is for the Lutheran Church to have an edition of the Book of Concord in the home of every Lutheran family and individual.

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