Passionspredigten

This Lent I have been reading a book of Lenten sermons in my devotions. It is a collection of 18 sermons on the Passion History of our Lord. Actually, it’s just the first half. There must be a second volume. The sermons are by George Stöckhardt (1842–1913), a Lutheran pastor and professor who is often considered the greatest exegete in American Lutheranism. These sermons, much like so many of Stöckhardt’s sermons, are magnificent. I’m just amazed at the depth of insight and careful consideration of each word of the text. With 18 sermons on just half of the Passion History, each sermon is focused on just a sliver of the history, each just considers one aspect of the account. The one I’m reading right now is on Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. [The image below is from the cover of the book.]

Let me share with you part of the introduction to this series. This is a very rough translation (the book is in German and I don’t have a dictionary with me). [The image to the right is from the cover of the book.]

Passionpredigten"The Passion History makes the best Passion sermon. The entire Gospel is a preaching of the
crucified Christ, the Word of Atonement. In particular, the history of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit has given it to the holy Evangelists, the great Word of Atonement, is the core and substance of the gospel. And they are great, serious, powerful and at the same time highly comforting words, which are reported in this history. These words are clear and concise and they impress themselves on the heart and conscience. Whoever sees in them the calling of the Holy Spirit to his eyes, his soul, receives and enjoys the fruit of the passion of Jesus. Because these words are so great, so rich and deep, we approach them with care and correctness when we aim to preach and interpret them. We will get the right benefit from this interpretation, when we pay close attention to each individual phrase of the holy evangelists, and search out their sense and content. So we want to slowly, step by step, follow in the way of suffering marked out for our Lord and Savior in the passion history.

And on each step of the way of suffering, at each section of the passion history we want to mainly observe the following eight points."

Then he continues to list these eight points he says are critical to all "Christian preaching, and therefore all passion-preaching." Such preaching must also be a preaching of

  1. repentance
  2. faith
  3. sanctification
  4. love
  5. patience
  6. wisdom
  7. power
  8. comfort (for our life, suffering, and death)

Interspersed in this list he quotes several hymn stanzas, from some of the same hymns we sing today.

Reading these sermons have been terrifically helpful to me for my personal devotion this Lenten season. How about yours? What helps you the most to set the love of your Savior before your eyes and your heart during the Lenten season? If you wish, share your thoughts in the comments.

5 thoughts on “Passionspredigten

  1. It’s funny you mention Stoeckhardt because WELS pastors honor him more than LC-MS pastors…at least it seems so to me.
    I’ve read some of his preaching in translation. He is thoroughly and refreshingly orthodox.

  2. I just glanced at my bookshelf and noticed that I probably have more books by Stöckhardt than by anyone else. I have 8 titles. They are commentaries and sermons. Only one is in translation.
    I’ve found Stöckhardt to be hard to translate, mostly because of his heavy use of the appositive. It’s really challenging to translate all the synonyms he uses into English, when it’s hard to pin down the exact distinction he’s trying to make, if at all. But he uses that all the time, and it’s sometimes even hard to catch all of them in German, much less translate them in to English.
    I began to grow fond of Stöckhardt’s writing in college. In the course American Lutheran German Writings (which I took twice), we would often read Stöckhardt sermons (many of them from Gnade um Gnade).
    But actually, the first volume of his writings that I owned I received from my late-great-uncle after he died. It was his Old Testament Bible History Commentary. Since then I had the book re-bound because it was falling apart. But it struck me that my Grandpa’s brother, a Lutheran (LCMS) layman, would have a Stöckhardt volume in his library. Of course, he also had a German-Latin version of the BOC as well.
    What I love about this book and the others is the clarity and the depth of his exegesis. Then I love to see how he unfolds that in his sermons. He’s a master at preaching the text in such a way that it draws you into the account. You can’t read the sermon without being forced to apply it. I think I’ve read somewhere that he wasn’t a very energetic preacher. But I would have loved to hear these sermons preached.

  3. I recently subscribed to Pastor Gumm’s blog “The Shepherd’s Study” at his request, and in connection with his recent post on the “Agnus Dei” I came across this blog and was absolutely thrilled to see a post on Stoeckhardt’s “Passionspredigten.” I too wonder about the availability of the second half that I surely hope exists. My copy of the first half is very precious to me, since it was given to me by the beloved Professor Deutschlander. I have begun translating the first sermon and hope to have it published in an upcoming issue of “Studium Excitare” (www.studiumexcitare.com) which is being relaunched soon (early April). God has obviously blessed you with some serious German Sprachgefuehl even to be able to “throw off” your translation above. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind if I offer you my polished translation of the same section, since I have been working on it for a while:
    The history of the Passion is the best proclamation of the Passion. True, the entire gospel is proclamation of the crucified Christ, the message of reconciliation. But particularly the history of the suffering and dying of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit has dictated it to the holy evangelists, is the great message of reconciliation. It is the heart and soul of the gospel.
    It is a great and sacred history. The words that recount this history are weighty, serious, and powerful, yet at the same time immensely comforting. These words are plain and clear and penetrate into the heart and conscience all by themselves. Whoever reads and ponders them carefully under the Holy Spirit’s guidance takes and eats the fruit of the Passion of Jesus.
    Since, however, these words are so weighty, so rich and deep, we quite rightly make them also the subject of proclamation and exposition. But we will really profit from such exposition only when we first take a close look at every single statement of the holy evangelists and investigate its sense and meaning. So we want to follow the path marked out in the Passion history slowly, one step at a time – the path of our Lord and Savior’s suffering.
    At every step along the way, with every section of the Passion history, we want to pay special attention to the following points… [followed by the points that you mentioned].
    Thanks again for your post. It’s great to know there are other people out there with serious interest in the writings of our confessional fathers. God’s blessings!

  4. Nathan–thanks for the polished translation. I know exactly how you would feel about such a book from Deutschlander. My copy of Gnade um Gnade came from him, as well as a set of sermon studies based on a harmony of the Gospels. I treasure those books and am constantly thankful for the things I learned in his classroom. It’s funny, because I’ll come across a certain construction and my mind will go back to his classroom and recall how often he pounded it into our heads.

  5. Nathan–thanks for the polished translation. I know exactly how you would feel about such a book from Deutschlander. My copy of Gnade um Gnade came from him, as well as a set of sermon studies based on a harmony of the Gospels. I treasure those books and am constantly thankful for the things I learned in his classroom. It’s funny, because I’ll come across a certain construction and my mind will go back to his classroom and recall how often he pounded it into our heads.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s