office of ministry

“That is”? A Look at the Translation and Interpretation of AC V

by Mark P. Surburg 

Prior to the year 2000, the most commonly used English translation of the German text for the Augsburg Confession was that of the Tappert edition of 1959. This edition translated the opening words of the German text of AC V (“Solchen Glauben zu erlangen, hat Gott das Predigtamt eingesetzt, Evangelium und Sakramente gegeben”): “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the gospel and the sacraments” (Tappert, AC V, 1).

The appearance in 2000 of the Kolb-Wengert edition introduced another translation of the German text: “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments.” This article will demonstrate that the elimination of “that is” in the Kolb-Wengert edition provides a more accurate translation and avoids importing an incorrect interpretation of AC V. Ultimately, of course, every translation is an interpretation. The issue is whether or not it is a correct interpretation of the text...

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Mark P. Surburg  is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Marion, Illinois.