Transition to Translation

by Nathaniel Biebert

As you peruse this issue of Studium Excitare, you may notice that it no longer contains doctrinal articles. Starting with this issue, the writers have jointly decided to cease writing articles of a doctrinal nature, and focus the publication completely on translation. This is a very significant change. The writers therefore feel it is necessary to explain this action to their readers. They also wish to inform you, the reader, about the future of Studium Excitare.

Studium Excitare was started by five pastor track students who enjoyed reading and studying Biblical doctrine (as taught by Chemnitz, Pieper, Schaller, etc.) and translating German and Latin (Chemnitz, Gerhard, Stöckhardt, etc.) in their free time. None of these were ill undertakings, but the writers failed to stop and ponder why the former was not being pursued in SPaM courses here at MLC. As it turns out, there’s a reason for that. And it’s a pretty good one, too.

(Most of the following information concerning Martin Chemnitz and Jakob Andreae was gleaned from Professor Deutschlander’s lectures in European Lutheran German Writings offered last semester.) When the Wisconsin Synod was deciding upon the best format for our pastor-training system, they took into account Martin Chemnitz’s and Jakob Andreae’s differing approaches for acquiring signatures for the Formula of Concord (1578-1580 A.D.). In every town that Chemnitz visited, he gathered all the pastors together to examine the articles in light of Scripture. They all discussed and discussed for days, until they got tired of discussing. Then the pastors finally signed the Formula. Andreae’s approach differed somewhat. He gathered the pastors together, showed the Formula to them, told them that it was the product of much Scriptural study (as well it was) and that therefore it was the correct explanation of Scriptural doctrine, and then had them sign it.

Both methods had their strengths and weaknesses. Chemnitz wanted to make sure that the pastors understood what they were signing. But since any article of doctrine has the potential of being discussed endlessly, often the discussion on an article was simply terminated because of time constraints, and thus did not get resolved. Chemnitz could only be sure that all the pastors agreed on as much as they had discussed. Andreae knew that the Formula contained the correct explanation of doctrine. He simply wanted the pastors to subscribe to it in order that there would be unity. While these pastors had now subscribed to true doctrine, some of their subscriptions had been made ignorantly or hypocritically.

The Wisconsin Synod sought to find the narrow Lutheran middle road. Based on this information, it has decided that its pastors should get a firm grounding in the languages and in history at the lower levels (prep schools and college), and not in doctrine. Those studying to become pastors are then to study doctrine on the basis of Holy Scripture at the Seminary. In this way every generation is supposed to win the truth for itself, instead of merely inheriting the knowledge of others. The setting down of systematic doctrine does have its place after that. It curbs the heretic inside each one of us that wants to misconstrue or misapply Bible passages. Often the theologians explain doctrine, which we may have learned on our own from Scripture, in a more precise way or with more striking illustrations. Often they point us to even more Scriptural references that we may not have considered.

It is for this reason that Studium Excitare will cease to offer doctrinal articles for the time being. The writers do not regret studying doctrine and writing about it previously. They are simply seeking what is most beneficial and in harmony with the desires of their beloved Wisconsin Synod. Studium Excitare also does not seek to now discourage the study or use of systematic Biblical doctrine. Rather, it still seeks studium excitare, to arouse zeal, for the study of God’s Word and its holy doctrine.

For the next few years, Studium Excitare will simply be a journal of translated theological works, produced in the past by orthodox Lutherans. (We also plan to continue presenting a short biography of one of our Lutheran fathers on the back page.) This poses a dilemma to the writers. They know that previously some people read this publication because the doctrinal articles sparked their interest. Now that the journal does not contain these, the writers are unsure how the journal will be received. Up until now, the writers themselves have taken care of the cost of publication because they knew that it would have many readers. They now suspect that interest in the publication will wane. The writers do not wish to pay a fair sum to have 100 copies published, only to have 20 of them actually used and appreciated.

Outdated information has been removed from this document.

Studium Excitare will try to publish four issues a year. Anything that appears therein will continue to be submitted “to an advisor who is a properly trained and called minister of the Gospel” (pg. 20, Vol. I, No. 2). The writers sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this article, and they hope that you continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor.