Friday, November 4, 2011

Survey of Herberger's Works


With the upcoming release of the second volume of The Great Works of God, concluding his commentary on Genesis, scheduled to be available on Epiphany (Jan. 6), 2012 (and available for pre-order from CPH), it seemed good to take this portentous occasion as an opportunity to pause and to offer a brief survey of Herberger's body of writing.

By the end of the first quarter of the 17th century, not long after Johann Arndt had died and while Johann Gerhard was still occupied in his great body of writing, Herberger had reached the end of his often-interrupted and yet remarkably busy publishing career, nearly 30 years after beginning. The first, and most subsequent, editions of his books were printed in Leipzig at the once famous press of Fritzsch(e) or Gleditsch (two branches of a once-notable family in that city). Individual funeral sermons and smaller works seem to have been generally handled on a more local basis around Fraustadt, though these were later collected and published en masse in Leipzig as well. The following works have not all been thoroughly examined by the author of this post, but an attempt has been made at least to provide a basic description when possible.

** indicates chief works

[Exposition of Ecclesiasticus in 97 sermons]
The purpose, as hinted in the title, was to expound in a series of sermons a book historically used by the Church as a domestic primer and book of Christian instruction in etiquette and morality. In it, as the title-page suggests, Christians are instructed in wisdom, urged on to virtue, strengthened in faith, corrected in life, and comforted and uplifted in suffering.

**MAGNALIA DEI: de Jesu scripturae nucleo et medulla (12 parts, 1601–1618).
[The great works of God]
Without doubt Herberger’s greatest and most popular work, running several editions through the 19th century, this is a devotional commentary on the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth arranged into "meditations," chapters of varying length. The aim of these devotionals, which Herberger began only with the intention of covering Genesis after the idea was suggested to him while reading Luther’s commentary on that book, was to go sequentially from beginning to end and to show that Jesus is the Center and Substance of the Old Testament. This is apparent even with a glance at the (sometimes loquacious) titles, all of which without exception begin "JESUS…" While at times making reference to traditional typology, Herberger expands on and indeed adds to these his own gleanings of "mysteries" of Christ, wherever something may remind him of Jesus’ person, work, and merit, and so afford his readers profitable material for contemplation. Throughout, he shows himself not only a steadfast Lutheran and Christian doctrinally, but also an able preacher whose words "come from the heart and therefore go to the heart."

After the first volume received so much interest, Herberger was encouraged to continue the series, and did so until he was at last prevented through the accumulation of duties during the plague and Kossak incursions, and at last his death in 1628. The last German edition of Parts 1–4 (Genesis) was printed in 1854. An English translation has been prepared, of which volume 1 (parts 1–2) was published in 2010, and volume 2 (Parts 3–4) will be published this year, from Concordia Publishing House.

The Passionzeiger, or "Passion-Clock," of Jesus Christ, presents a series of homilies on Jesus’ Passion arranged sequentially according to the hours of Good Friday, beginning with Green Thursday (i.e., Maundy Thursday) at 7 PM and ending that same time on Good Friday. According to his usual method, Herberger alternates narration, exposition, and proclamation, sprinkled throughout with prayers, as he examines each "Hour," meditating on the specific sufferings which Christ endured then. The reader is to draw from this the benefit of remembering, at any hour the clock strikes throughout the year, what Christ did in that hour of His Passion for the sake of our salvation. It is also designed to give those who are sick and those who labor good reading and discussion material to pass the long hours of waiting and working, recalling what afflictions Christ suffered, what toils He endured and what loads He bore, to redeem us and bring us to eternal blessedness. Published in Leipzig, 1606ff. in 8º; last German edition was made by Karl Friedrich Ledderhose, 1854.

Das wunderschöne Weihnacht-Evangelium (1607, reprinted 1611).
[The wondrously beautiful Christmas Gospel]
Sermon on John 1, first printed in Leipzig, 1607, in 8º.

Die gebenedeiten Tautröpflein und fruchtbaren Regentröpflein der heilsamen Gnade Christi (1607, repr. 1611).
[The blessed dewdrops and fruitful raindrops of Christ’s healing grace]
Sermon on Isaiah 45, first printed in Leipzig, 1607, in 8º.

Jesus, das edle Herzblümelein (1607).
[Jesus, the noble flower of the heart]

Der theure, werthe Osterschatz des erstandenen Königes Jesu Christi (1608, repr. 1611).
[The priceless, precious Easter-treasure of the risen King Jesus Christ]
Sermons wherein the events of Easter and the resurrected Christ are "paschally, profitably, comfortingly demonstrated from the noble knight Samson’s (1) nuptial honey, (2) stolen clothing and festal garment, (3) wounded Philistines, (4) fresh spring of him who calls [Enhakkore], (5) broken gates in Gaza, (6) and razed chapel of Dagon; from Judges 14–16"; 1st pr. Leipzig, 1608, in 8º.

Jesus, die einige, gute, köstliche Perle (1608, 1611).
[Jesus, the only good, choice pearl]
Presumably on Matt. 13; 1st pub. Leipzig, 1608, in 8º.

Das Himmlische Jerusalem (1609)
[The heavenly Jerusalem]
This is an exposition in ten sermons (each including a proper prayer and benediction) of Revelation 21–22, which seeks to relay what we can know for certain about the admittedly unfathomable Heavenly Jerusalem, where Christians will dwell forever after this life. Herberger seeks to impart comfort and consolation through a Christological view of the Heavenly Jerusalem that avoids anxieties and speculations about what is not explicit in the text, but rather is rooted in the Resurrection and Ascension. The tenth and final sermon concerns what may be expected in hell by those who are excluded from the city. In the dedication to Bartsch of Kottwitz, etc., the author explicitly states that he worked on the book from Easter to Ascension in the year 1609, which year is repeated in the concluding chronogram, "IesV In CorDe Meo habItantIs." First published in Leipzig, 1609–1610, in 8º; last German edition was made by Friedrich Ahlfeld and published by Ernst Bredt in 1858.

Gloria Lutheri et evangelicorum / Des seligen Herrn D. Lutheri u. aller evangelischen Herzen Ehrenkrone (1609).
[Blessed Luther and all evangelicals’ crown of glory]
A sermon providing "thorough, clear, manifest proof that the angel with the eternal gospel in Rev. 14[:6ff.] is a comforting prophecy of that dear man, Dr. Martin Luther, and his evangelical teaching… for the love of all good-hearted friends of Luther in Fraustadt." Preached and written in November of 1608.

Arborum scripturae lucus / Lustwäldlein vornehmster Bäume (1609 or 1610).
[Grove of the greatest trees]
Sermon for the deceased Caspar Rodewald, member of Kripplein Christi, given on 21 Mar. 1610 (Laetare Sunday afternoon = ? 1 year memorial service). Apparently draws from several passages of Scripture dealing with trees in order to form a "grove" of consolation for the hearers; 1st pub. Leipzig, 1609?, 8º.

Das geistliche Wasserkrüglein, etc. (1610)
[The spiritual water-jar…]
A collection of sermons. The spiritual water-jar of samaritan woman of Sychar; King David's refreshing drink; the duke of Bethlehem; pub. Leipzig, 1609–1610, 8º.

Deliciae nominis quasimodogenitorum Dei Patri filiorum / Die herzliche Süssigkeit der Namen der Kinder Gottes… (1610, 1613).
[The heartfelt sweetness of the name 'the children of God']
Sermon(s?) on the title "children of God" in 1 John 3; 1st pub. Leipzig, 1609, 8º.

Herzgrund quillt in Mund S. Pauli und aller frommen Christen (1610, repr. 1613).
[The bottom of the heart spills into the mouth of St. Paul of all pious Christians]
Funeral sermon for Hedwig Meisner (10 Mar. 1610).

Jungfraukränzlein (1610).
Sermon on Revelation 14[:1–5]; "plaited by Valerius Herberger"; Leipzig, 1610, 8º.

*GEISTLICHE TRAUERBINDEN (6 parts, 1611–1621, rev. 1668)
[Spiritual Mourning-bands]
This is a massive collection of Herberger’s numerous, comforting funeral sermons; pub. Leipzig, 1611ff.; revised, enlarged to 7 parts, Leipzig 1668, 4º. The most recent edition (a selection of 32 sermons) was made by K.F. Ledderhose in 1854.

S. Dorotheae Paradies (1612).
[St. Dorothy’s Paradise]
A short treatise on "whence this holy, Christian, blessed virgin Dorothea took her references to the roses and apples of Paradise"; pub. Leipzig, 1612, 8º.

**EVANGELISCHE HERZ-POSTILLE (1613, repr. 1624, 1674).
[Evangelical Heart-postils]
This is a collection of sermons on the Gospels of the Church Year; the last German edition was made by C. R. Bachmann in 1853.

Geographia regionis vivorum / Landtafel des Landes der Lebendigen (1614).
[Map of the land of the living]
Memorial sermon for the anniversary of the death of Emmelia Bucretius (†2 May, 1613); publ. Leipzig, 1614, 8º.

Rosarium beatae virginis / Hochgelobten Jungfrauen Mariä Rosenkrantz (1615).
[Rosy-wreath of the Blessed Virgin]
"Plaited from the story of the Annunciation" (Luke 1:39–56); pub. Leipzig, 1612, 8º.

Ehrenpreis treuherziger Seelensorger (1616).
[The prize of faithful ministers]
Funeral sermon for Dcn. Johann Timaeus of Fraustadt (†1614); pub. Leipzig 1616–1617, 8º.

Liber vitae / Das Buch des Lebens (1616).
[The book of life]
Funeral sermon for publisher Thomas Schürer, †14 Aug. 1615, wherein "the book of life is leafed through with a devout heart, and its comforting script examined"; pub. Leipzig, 1616, 8º.

Der lieblichste und schönste Frauenschmuck Gottseliger Matronen (1618)
[The loveliest and fairest jewel of pious ladies]
Funeral sermon for Dorothea Körber.

Ehrliebender Frauen Herz-Glas (1618).
[The heart-glass of honor-loving women]
Funeral sermon for Anna Mencelius based on Mark 14.

Jesus, omnium medicorum princeps et dominus / Jesus der Herr, mein Arzt (1618).
[Jesus the Lord, my physician]
Funeral sermon for Flaminius Gasto (†5. Feb., inter. 21 Feb. 1618). The title goes on to say of Jesus "…the best, wisest, and most successful doctor, none of whose patients have died"; based on Exodus 15; Leipzig, 1618, 8º.

Lustige Hochzeitsrätzel, -Kuchen, -Brote, und -Fische… (1619)
[Amusing nuptial puzzles, cakes, loaves, and fishes]
On the wedding of Catherina Schürer to Matthias Götz.

Mein Gott, mein Gott: Christi Segen ist mein Leben (1619)
[My God, My God: Christ’s blessing is my life]
On Jesus’ word on the cross, presumably; pub. Lepzig, 1619, 8º.

Baculus et bajulus venerendae senectutis / Aller Gottesfürchtigen alte Leute bester Herzstecken und Troststab (1620).
[The best heart-stick and consolation-staff of all godly, elderly people]
(? Funeral sermon) for Johann Specht; Leipzig, 1620, 8º.

Thränen-Schwämmlein (1620).
Funeral sermon for Eva Nischelck, née Henning, on "the tear-sponge with which God shall wipe away all the bitter and stinging waters of the eyes and hearts of His children in the heavenly Jerusalem"; based on Rev. 21:4. Reprinted as late as 1660.

Arbor vitae / Der Baum des Lebens (1622).
[Tree of life]
Funeral sermon for Dr. Daniel Rindefleisch (Bucretius), personal physician to Archduke Charles of Austria, †26 Jun. 1621.

De signaculo Dei vivi et spectaculo beatudinis fidelium / Spiegel… (1624).
[Seal of the living God and the beatific vision of the faithful]
One of Herberger’s later funeral sermons which was popular in its own right referring to the subject of Rev. 7, on which the sermon is based. Printed on Jan. 19, 1624. It was dedicated Sabine Hopfer, widow of of the lately deceased Matthias Hopfer; the dedication concludes "Anno 1624, in the departing month of winter."

Hochzeitlich Blumen-Feld (1625)
[Nuptial field of flowers]
On the marriage of Margarethe Blumen to Zacharias Schürer (1 Mar. 1625); pub. Leipzig, 1625, 8º.


A few works gathered from Herberger’s manuscripts, either nearly completed or in fact ready for publication, were put out by his publisher in Leipzig, some with the help of his son Zacharias, after his death, and are of such quality as to be generally included in biographies:

**Florilegium ex paradiso Psalmorum / Paradieß-Psalter (1625).
[Flower-garden from the paradise of the Psalms]
Exposition of the Psalms 1–23; originally attached to Magnalia Dei; the last German edition was made by K. F. Ledderhose in 1854.

[Epistolary heart-postils]
Sermon on the Epistles of the Church Year. The last German edition was made by J.T.L. Tauscher in 1840.

**Spicilegium Novi Testamenti / Paralipomena / Geistreiche Stoppelpostille (1715?)
[Spiritual gleaning-postils]
Sermons on the texts of the four Gospels and Acts not treated in other postils, i.e., not appointed for regular feasts and Sundays, hence called "gleanings" or "stubble."


  1. 97 sermons on Ecclesiasticus? Wow, Herberger was a sermonator!

  2. Ecclesiasticus (not to be mistaken with Ecclesiastes) is a long book!