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Rev. Paul T. McCain

I'm rather disappointed by these remarks. Given the profile of this blog's author, I would expect more than what strikes me as a rather snarky, and far too facile, treatment of The Lutheran Study Bible.

There appears to be more behind these remarks, for surely these remarks which are irresponsibly inaccurate, would have done more than make assertions.

Let me cite but one example:

This post claims that The Lutheran Study Bible could have included the Apocrypha. In point of fact, this is factually inaccurate, since the editorial work on TLSB was finished well before the Cambridge edition of the ESV Apocrypha was published.

As I said, disappointing indeed.


Rev. Paul,

No offense intended. Perhaps you might let us know when the last time was that conservative Lutherans printed a Bible inclusive of the Apocrypha.

Keil and Delitzsch thought the Apocrypha important enough that they commented on a number of the books therein. I wouldn't be surprised if in their day, many confessional Lutherans, at least in Europe, read the Apocrypha with interest in accordance with precedent Lutheran tradition.

It's fair to say, however, that conservative Lutheran interest for the Apocrypha has been in free fall since. If you think otherwise, please say so.

As of now, Concordia Publishing House does not sell a single study Bible inclusive of the Apocrypha. But if you are suggesting that that is about to change, I would love to be able to modify this post with news to that effect.

Kevin Sam

John, thanks for the link, and the compliment: "Kevin Sam, my favorite Lutheran blogger..." ;) I'm glad you're reading my blog. I enjoy reading yours too.

Rev. Paul McCain works for Concordia so don't be intimidated by his comments including one where he states: "what strikes me as a rather snarky, and far too facile, treatment of The Lutheran Study Bible. " Notice that he took full liberty to critique the LSB: NRSV here on my review of it. I'm surprised the TLSB hasn't seen more critique.

Our blogs on the blogosphere are also here to provide some objective critique. I don't think Paul has seen the other blogs where people have endlessly critiqued the NLT,NIV, TNIV, ESV until kingdom come. Critique is what makes the difference between an inferior translations/bibles and a superior one. I believe the NIV2011 will become a great translation in the future because it has seen unparalleled critique. Btw, my bible study group has bought a case of TLSB: ESV.


Hi Kevin,

Don't worry; I am not easily intimidated. If I were, I wouldn't be blogging, since fire-breathing dragons and trolls inhabit the sphere, as elsewhere in life.

I didn't know McCain worked for Concordia - a great publishing house. The drift of his comment, unless it is pure bombast, would suggest that Concordia will publish a study Bible inclusive of the Apocrypha in the future. That would be a very Lutheran thing to do, if you ask me.

Kevin Sam

John, from what I know about the Missouri Synod Lutherans (LCMS-Concordia), they pay very little attention to the apocrypha because it borders on heresy so its inclusion is not even a consideration for TLSB's future. LCMS believes in the inerrancy of scriptures, whereas, in the ELCA, anything goes. I think McCain might have been a little uneasy about your mentionof the possibility of having the apocrypha in TLSB.

Since it' s the ELCA Lutherans (Augsburg) who are open to the apocrypha, I wouldn't be surprised if they included it in the future.


Of course, it is well-known that for Luther and Zwingli, the Bible was not complete without the Apocrypha.

That's why the preachers of Zurich published a Bible as early as 1530 inclusive of the Apocrypha. The Lutherbibel included the Apocrypha from 1534 on. Heretics all, I guess.

The real question is when the innovation occurred, that Bibles began to be considered complete without the inclusion of the Apocrypha.

Mike H.

A couple of thoughts. First, you'd expect things from Concordia Publishing House (TLSB) to sound differently than Crossway because CPH is the publishing arm for the LCMS (not WELS as above), whereas Crossway is not affiliated with any Christian denomination, giving it a very different emphasis. So, would you expect TLSB to sound un-Lutheran?

Second, it is odd, you have such a big quibble about the lack of inclusion of the Apocrypha. I'm not sure if you're confused about where the LCMS stands in regard to it. The LCMS position certainly doesn't put the Apocrypha and the Bible on the same level, but it also doesn't say the Apocrypha has no value. To a Lutheran, Romanists also misinterpret the Bible, but that doesn't mean Lutherans throw the Bible out as well. Based on everything I've heard, there will be an Aprocryphal edition published, but, as they say, these things take time (in other words, I don't expect you'll see such an edition within the next year). Given that every other Bible I've owned (except for my LXX) has lacked the Apocrypha, I can't say I missed it. I simply use other books which have apocryphal texts separate. I don't see a sin in that.

Third, I don't think TLSB is a perfect study Bible (I've yet to find a perfect one). I'm not going to agree with everything in it, but it is certainly a good Bible, which is going to be even more valuable if you're a (Missouri Synod) Lutheran. So it's always helpful to be aware of the categories of your criticism. For instance, I'm not even sure what your sentence on inferior maps intends to say. "Conservative Lutherans believe poor maps are best"? Wouldn't this be a technical criticism of the editing and not related to its theology? Whether notes are too technical or not, I imagine has something to do with theology, but it also is related to its perceived audience.

John, it wasn't clear what your level of interaction w TLSB was? Sam's blog posts? Samples on the website? Personal use of it? I don't think this is a bad blog post per se, it's just a little harder to follow than some of your work on the Psalms for instance :)


Hi Mike,

Thanks for your helpful blogging, BTW.

My knowledge of TLSB is based on the extensive samples I refer to in the body of the post.

I know Concordia is not the de jure publishing house of WELS. De facto, however, it is, as I note whenever I visit with WELS pastors in their studies.

I could be wrong, but it remains my impression that the inferior quality of the maps and technical notes is a reflection of current conservative Lutheran priorities, not of perceived audience.

Let's be honest: almost anyone who reads the Bible, Lutheran no less than non-Lutheran, lay as well as clergy, would be overjoyed to have high quality maps and technical notes of the kind ESVSB abounds in.

Now, if Concordia is planning to publish a study Bible with the Apocrypha and notes thereto, PTL! Is this official?

Luther carefully explains in a preface his reasons for rendering the writings of the Apocrypha into German and putting them in his Bible as an appendix to the OT.

It doesn't take much study of church history to realize that the choice to depart from Luther on these matters has nothing to do with Luther and everything to do with recent trends in the context of which you hear people say the Apocryphal books are "heretical."

Luther, at least, the mature Luther, who recommended that excerpts from the Apocrypha be used in worship, would not have spoken in crass terms of the Apocrypha.

But let me end on a positive note. It is a great thing to have a study Bible that includes a fine variety of theological and devotional helps. I concur with Michael Spencer on this.

Mike H.

Just quickly, re: the Apocrypha stuff. This is from CPH's website, so I think you would call that the horse's mouth

Does The Lutheran Study Bible include the Apocrypha?
No, it does not, though it does contain an explanation of the history between the two Testaments and an explanation of the books that were written during this time and traditionally included in Lutheran Bibles since the first edition of Luther’s Bible in 1534, continuing up the time that The Missouri Synod moved from German to English, at which time, the Apocrypha was no longer included. We did not feel it was wise to try to reintroduce these books to the English speaking Lutheran Church by including them in The Lutheran Study Bible since the vast majority of Lutherans are entirely unfamiliar with them. Rather, we are considering producing a separate volume detailing what these books are, offering more extensive history and background for them and including the books themselves. This will be a better way to introduce Lutherans to the heritage of including these books, which Luther said in his Bible that thought they are not canonical like the other books of the Bible, they are certainly good for reading.


In other words, when our church body used to publish Luther's German Bible, the Apocrypha was there, but ever since going to English it has not been there for Lutherans, nor has it been published under CPH's imprimatur (which is really not a big deal after all since CPH is not a *Bible* publisher. Their last rendition of a study Bible (the Concordia Self-Study Bible) was basically the NIV Study Bible notes with a few additions. In other words, church goers have always been free to buy Apocryphal Bibles or supplements, it's just not been something that CPH has published. Evidently whenever this new Apocryphal edition is published, that will be the first time. So in your eyes, we're making progress in that regard ;-) But still, the only reason why they would even publish it now, is because it will have distinctly Lutheran notes and emphases I imagine. Otherwise, just tell people to buy it from Crossway or some other retailer.

(I can't speak to the ESV Study Bible's strengths or weaknesses vis-a-vis TLSB since I don't own a copy of the former.)


Hi Mike,

That's helpful. Of course, the reason the vast majority of Lutherans are unfamiliar with the Apocrypha is that, somewhere along the way, the majority of Lutherans gave up reading parts of it during worship. I imagine its disuse in worship preceded its non-inclusion in editions of Luther's Bible.

Crossway has not published an edition of the Bible inclusive of the Apocrypha. Nor do they publish it separately. Logic would suggest that the conservative Reformed, if they return to the position of documents like the Belgic Confession, will get around to doing what Concordia is planning to do.

Perhaps the best place to start, for the general reader, is an NRSV Study Bible which includes the Apocrypha. They can be purchased through CBD for example.

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