Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Martin Luther's Christmas Book" edited by Roland H. Bainton

Fortress Press sent me a review copy of Martin Luther's Christmas Book edited by Roland H. Bainton. Bainton takes 30 years worth of Luther's sermons and turns them into 8 Christmas devotional readings. The eight readings are titled "Annunciation," "Visitation," "Nativity," "Shepherds," "Herod," "Wise Men," and "Presentation." He also has a translation of Luther's hymn "From Heaven High" (aka "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come"). Bainton paraphrases and summarizes Luther but seems to be pretty faithful to Luther's style and intent. Luther's takes some swings at the papacy in some of his sermons. Luther takes some liberties in his interpretation of the Biblical passages but does an excellent job of applying the text to the modern context. He takes every opportunity to encourage people in their vocations (reminding us in one section that angels like to come to visit when you are working faithfully). More importantly he reminds us of how amazing and inconceivable the incarnation really is. The book also features several woodcuts from Luther's contemporaries. My only gripe is that the woodcuts are not very well reproduced. The one on the cover was blurry and it was very difficult to make out some of the detail on some of the woodcuts inside.

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