Editor's Preface

  • Channing R. Jeschke

In the world of scholarly research and publication, the role of antiquarian book and I manuscript dealers is too frequently overlooked and unacknowledged. Yet it has been this librarian's experience that they have been among my closest confidants and allies. They have shared my dreams for collection development and have been my eyes and ears in foreign places. They have led me into new fields of investigation that my previous training and experience had not prepared me to enter, and they have celebrated singular new additions to our collections with genuine delight for our good fortune. Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing has been such a mentor and friend.

It was a few minutes to five o'clock one summer evening six years ago, and I was beginning to clear my desk in preparation for going home. My phone rang and it was Frieder Kocher-Benzing of the Stuttgarter Antiquariat. “Channing, I just arrived home and I cannot go to bed before I tell you what I have brought into my house.” In Stuttgart, it was eleven P.M. When he told me what he had, there were two of us who could not sleep that night.

Frieder told me of a beloved, older colleague in another city, who had recently died. He had been a person whom Frieder had admired as a mentor in the antiquarian book business. In the man's will, he had directed his family to give Frieder first right of purchase of materials in his possession. Martin Luther's September Testament of 1522 was among these materials. Here was the piece that many scholars considered to be Luther's greatest achievement, the translation of the Scriptures into German. With Lucas Cranach's remarkable series of woodcuts based on the Revelation to John, the September Testament is one of the great illustrated books of the Reformation.

In a few anxious weeks I arranged to complete our transaction, and in late September I flew to Stuttgart to pick up the volume. As I visited with Frieder in his office, he showed me some select pieces from his stock. Among these was the Enchiridion Geistliker leder vnde Psalmen, printed by Michael Lotter at Magdeburg in 1536, and presented here as a facsimile edition by Stephen A. Crist.

Dr. Crist is a musicologist at Emory University and a Bach scholar. In this, the second volume of Emory Texts and Studies in Ecclesial Life, Dr. Crist presents the findings of his investigation of this unique copy of a Low German hymnal, and places it in the context of the transmission of hymn texts in North Germany during Luther's lifetime. We are grateful to Professor Crist for the new insights he has brought to this study of Lutheran hymnody.

Channing R. Jeschke, General Editor and
Margaret A. Pitts Professor of Theological Bibliography
Emory University
November 16, 1993