Guest Post by Tony Reinke
While at his own dinner table Martin Luther spoke most bluntly about life, ministry, and the faith. And as Luther spoke, several of his guests were compelled to write those conversations down over the years. These collected “table talks” fill six volumes in the German edition of Luther’s works (Weimar) but only one volume of the English edition of Luther’s works (Fortress). About 80-percent of the recordings remained untranslated.
Last year Charles Daudert provided English readers with their first glimpse at many of the table talks in his 500-page Off the Record with Martin Luther: An Original Translation of the Table Talks (Hansa-Hewlett, 2009). The back cover warns readers to expect “blunt, explosive, often abusive, and many times coarse” language and this is true [although the most spicy excerpts Daudert separated into a 23-page PDF supplement (download instructions are in the book)].
The collection of newly translated recordings are divided into eight categories:
- Marriage, Family and Household
- Luther’s Background
- Comments Upon Everyday Life
- Law and Authority
- Advice to Pastors
- Creation, Religion, and Society
- The Christian Faith and Practices
- The New Faith
Daudert’s translation is fresh and readable, the excerpts are carefully chosen, the book is well organized, and the translator provides helpful commentary along the way. For English readers interested in the reformer, Off the Record with Martin Luther is a welcomed glimpse into his life and thought.