Thursday, September 14, 2017

One "F" von Hofmann

Late last month I received my gratis copy of the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions, edited by Timothy Wengert and published by Baker Academic. This very large reference work (more than 800 pages) contains nearly 600 entries, ten of which are by yours truly: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Werner Elert, Erlangen, Johannes von Hofmann, Theodosius Harnack, J. A. O. Preus, Arthur Carl Piepkorn, Jaroslav Pelikan, Edmund Schlink, and Ernst Troeltsch. For information on this important book, go here. It will now likely become the standard one-volume resource on Lutheran theology and church history in English, at least for the next generation or two. (Professor Wengert and most of his associate editors are "talking heads" in the recent PBS documentary, "Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World," which was broadcast locally this past Tuesday. For information on that film, go here.)

Johannes C. K. von Hofmann (1810-77)
Unfortunately, there is an error in the dictionary, actually, a set of errors. Due to a copy editor's mistake at Baker, Johannes Christian Konrad von Hofmann's name is misspelled in my entry and in every other one that refers to him. Throughout the book his name is spelled "Hoffmann." Thankfully, the overall editor at Baker, who immediately apologized for this mistake, has corrected this set of misspellings in the electronic version of the book. (This is one of the blessings of contemporary publishing, namely, that such errors can be immediately fixed, at least in the e-versions of a product.) The editor at Baker has promised to make sure Hofmann's name is spelled correctly in subsequent editions.

Since I devoted a few years of my life to studying and writing about Hofmann's life and work, the principal fruit of which was my doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago, I have tried to make clear how his name is to be spelled. Yes, this has been a pet peeve of mine, partly because a few American scholars have misspelled his name over the decades. Having read everything this Bavarian ever published, I can verify that the title pages of all of his books print his name as Johannes Christian Konrad von Hofmann. One "f." Two "n"s. That's true, too, for all of his numerous journal articles and magazine editorials.

If you have purchased a hard copy of the first edition of the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions, please note the correct spelling of this important nineteenth-century Lutheran theologian. If you know of someone who has purchased this volume, let that person know this, too. Thank you.