Saturday, November 26, 2016

Edmund Schlink Works - Volume One (Ecumenical and Confessional Writings)

This past week I learned that a new book I've edited has been published: Edmund Schlink Works, vol. 1, Ecumenical and Confessional Writings (The Coming Christ and Church Traditions and After the Council(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2017). Hans Spalteholz (who was my college professor and later colleague at Concordia University, Portland) and I have translated here, in the first part of the volume, the principal ecumenical writings of Edmund Schlink that he wrote in the fifties and early sixties. The second part contains our translation of Schlink's book on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). After the Council was among the first analyses of Vatican II to be published by an official observer from a non-Roman church body.

Although nearly all of Schlink’s writings in this first volume have been available in English for several decades, the publication of the new German edition of Schlink's works (Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, 5 vols., ed. Klaus Engelhardt et al. [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004-2010]) offered a significant impetus for providing a fresh and more accurate translation of them. Key terms are now handled consistently. Infelicitous and misleading renderings of Schlink’s language into English, which more or less happened in the earlier versions, have been corrected. Technical theological terms and concepts received special attention so that their English equivalents are as accurate as possible. Sentences, footnotes, and entire paragraphs that, for whatever reason, were omitted have now been restored. Unlike the abridged  English edition of Der kommende Christus und die kirchlichen Traditionen, which was published in 1967, this new edition includes all of the essays that appeared in the original book, published in 1961. In addition to writing the introduction, I have included editorial notes in each of the chapters.

These are the essays that appear in the first part:

1. The Task and Danger of the World Council of Churches

2. The Structure of the Dogmatic Statement as an Ecumenical Issue

3. The Christology of Chalcedon in Ecumenical Dialogue

4. Christ and the Church

5. The Expanse of the Church according to the Lutheran Confession

6. The Cultus in the Perspective of Evangelical-Lutheran Theology

7. Law and Gospel as a Controversial Issue in Theology

8. Apostolic Succession

9. On the Issue of Tradition

10. The Sojourning People of God

11. Christ—The Hope for the World

12. Transformations in the Protestant Understanding of the Eastern Church

13. The Significance of Eastern and Western Traditions for Christendom

14. Ecumenical Councils Then and Now

15. The Resurrection of God’s People

These are the chapters that appear in the second part:

1. The Spiritual Awakening of Christendom

2. The Conciliar Awakening of the Roman Church

3. The Resolutions of the Council

4. The Reform of the Worship Service

5. The Self-Understanding of the Roman Church

6. The Council and the Non-Roman Churches

7. The Council and the Non-Christian Religions

8. The Council and the World

9. Scripture, Tradition, Teaching Office

10. Post-Conciliar Possibilities of the Roman Church

11. Pope and Curia

12. The Significance of the Council for Other Churches

13. Anxious Christendom

14. Necessary Steps

15. The Mystery of Unity

Here are a few paragraphs from my introduction:

An influential teacher, pastor, and professor, and a leading participant in numerous official ecumenical dialogues for more than forty years, Edmund Schlink was one of the most significant Christian theologians of the twentieth century. The author of a weighty dogmatics text, five additional important books, and numerous essays, sermons, and addresses, this second-generation “ecumenical pioneer of the 20th Century” was the central systematic and historical theologian at Heidelberg University between 1946 and his death in 1984.  Lauded as a “teacher of the church,” as a “forerunner of the Ecumenical Movement in the 20th Century,” and as “a quiet reformer” who “lived his life for the unity of the church,” Schlink's contribution to the development of ecumenical theology in the second half of the twentieth century was considerable.  In the words of one of his most well-known students [Wolfhart Pannenberg], “By connecting such ecumenical breadth with a forceful emphasis on the abiding authority of the apostolic confession of Christ, the theological works of Edmund Schlink, and especially his Ecumenical Dogmatics, are still exemplary guides today.”  The recent publication of these principal writings in a new German edition offers a further reason to re-examine Schlink’s life and literary output, especially given the fact that many English-speaking students of religious studies, including younger American theologians, may be unfamiliar with this important German Protestant....

Friends and family remember Schlink and his wife as lovers of classical music (she especially of Mozart and he especially of Bach), as talented musicians, as warm and interesting conversationalists, as caring and friendly hosts. He was a creative scholar and critical thinker, who sought to serve Christ and the needs of the una sancta in all of its forms and expressions. He modeled the vision of ecumenical unity that he so often articulated in order to assist the strengthening of the bonds of human and ecclesial community. To be sure, as both Dr. Jochen Eber and Dr. Eugene Skibbe have noted, Schlink’s was “only one voice in the choir of learned voices in the church,” but still “his was a voice that echoes into the present.”  

It [this voice] can never replace this choir but can only sing in support of the choir and hope to be recognized as one of its voices. For no individual can fully portray the reign of God or his deeds. That is the task of the church as a whole, and indeed this happens not only in its life but also in its prayers, sermons, worship and confession, and in its love, service, and suffering (Edmund Schlink, Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, vol. 2 [Ökumenische Dogmatik], 71, as cited by Jochen Eber, “Edmund Schlink 1903-1984. Ein Leben für die Einheit der Kirche,” in Edmund Schlink, Schriften zu Ökumene und Bekenntnis, vol. 1 [Der kommende Christus und die kirchlichen Traditionen and Nach dem Konzil], xxii.).
For more information on the first volume, go here.

The American edition of Schlink's works will eventually total six volumes. I hope to have the second volume (the Ecumenical Dogmatics) completed by Christmas of 2019. Since it is the largest in the bunch (more than 800 pages), it is going to take a little longer to complete than the others.

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