Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BETS 9:2 (Spring 1966) p. 102
Chytraeus on Sacrifice: A Reformation Treatise in Biblical Theology. David Chytraeus’ “De Sacrificiis” of 1569 Translated for the First Time into a Modern Language and Edited in Translation by John Warwick Montgomery. St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 1962. 146 pages plus Scripture Index. $2.75. Reviewed by Dr. Herman A. Preus, Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Symbolics, Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Little by little Lutheran theologians are prying open the great forgotten century of Lutheran theology, the 17th, and the equally great half century which preceded it. It is this last half century following hard on the death of Luther which Dr. Montgomery here opens to us with his fine translation of one of the great works of the period. Who today knows David Chytraeus or Nikolaus Selnecker or Martin Chemnitz? Yet they were among the greatest theologians the Lutheran church has known since the Reformation.
This strange rejection or at least ignorance of a great segment of its theological heritage by modern Lutheranism is explained in Dr. Montgomery’s excellent introduction to the translation. “Chytraeus received the damning appellation of ‘orthodox Lutheran theologian’. The downhill slide to obscurity then became a foregone conclusion”. Then came Pietism which “tended to see in the work of the ‘Orthodoxist’ a definite deterrent to personal, heart religion.”
The Enlightenment regarded the theology of the late 16th and the 17th centuries as “almost beneath contempt”. Nineteenth century Romanticism disliked it as a new scholasticism. And the religious liberalism of the 20th century brushes off these early post-Reformation theologians as “hopelessly bigoted and opinionated”. This hostility to the theology of the period, rehearsed over and over again in church histories for over three centuries has engendered a similar feeling toward the Formula of Concord, which they find breathing “a heavy, unpleasant, foreign atmosphere—one which they would prefer to avoid”.
David Chytraeus has been called “the last of the fathers of the Lutheran church.” He studied under Luther and Melanchthon. Schmauk says that “Chytraeus was of the manner and heart of Melanchthon, with the doctrine of Luther”. The translator says of him, and he could have said the same about Chemnitz, that “he is far closer to the Reformation—both chronologically and methodologically—than to the period of Orthodoxy”. Thus Chytraeus is a theologian of the Reformation rather than of Orthodoxy.
Chytraeus (1531–1600) is best known as the author of the articles on Free Will and the Lord’s Supper in the Formula of Concord. Since these are two of the most controver...
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