Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friedrich Balduin, Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (1655)

Friedrich Balduin's Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (first published in 1655) is a major 17th-century Lutheran commentary on St. Paul's epistles. This volume covers Romans through Galatians. For each chapter of Paul’s epistles, Balduin gives the following sections:

* Summary and general outline.
* The text in Greek and Latin.
* Analysis and explanation.
* Paraphrase.
* Questions that arise from the text, with their answers. (These seem to address apparent contradictions.)
* Theological aphorisms.

Here are the questions from 2 Cor. 3:
1. “Why does the Apostle speak with such contempt about letters of recommendation, which teachers of the Word receive from their churches (v. 1), when elsewhere he writes that a bishop must have a good testimony from those who are outside (1 Tim. 3:7)?” (p. 593).

2. “Why does the Apostle write in v. 3 that the Corinthians are a letter of Christ written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not in stone tablets but in fleshy tablets of the heart? Is it right to infer from this that in the time of the New Testament there is no need for the written Word, that traditions of the living voice suffice, which penetrate the heart itself and do not remain in written letters?” (p. 593)

3. “Is it right to infer from our Apostle’s text, where he says ‘Christians have the Spirit of God in fleshy tablets of the heart,’ that the justification of the ungodly consists not in the forgiveness of sins alone, but in the sanctification and renewal of the inner man?” (p. 594)

4. “The heart of a man not yet converted is compared with tablets of stone in v. 3. Therefore is there no difference between a heart not yet converted and a stone tablet?” (p. 595)

5. “Paul speaks non-specifically about the ‘powerlessness’ of human powers, namely, that we are not sufficient of ourselves ‘to consider anything’. Hence it is not at all beside the point to ask: In all matters whatsoever, can man think nothing good without the specific aid of God?” (p. 595)
6. “In v. 5 Paul writes that we are not sufficient to think anything from ourselves, as of ourselves, etc. On the basis of this, is it possible to establish free choice in spiritual matters?” (p. 596)
Balduin's commentary is a great example of the theological depth of Lutheran Orthodox exegesis. It is to be hoped that people today will rediscover these treasures.

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