Ron Rittgers – Hebrews, James Commentary – Q & A

Ronald K. Rittgers is the editor of the Hebrews and James volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series. Dr. Rittgers (PhD, Harvard University) holds the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies at Valparaiso University, where he also serves as professor of history and theology.

Dr. Rittgers is also the author of The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany and The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany. He has also served as the president of the American Society of Church History.

7 Questions about Hebrews and James in the Reformation Commentary Series

Recently, Dr. Rittgers graciously answered my questions about his Hebrews and James commentary. Readers will learn how this commentary came to be, what is unique about it among other Hebrews and James commentaries, and how the project edified him personally.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to edit this commentary?

hebrews james bible commentary rittgersAfter the completion of two scholarly monographs with Harvard Press and Oxford Press, respectively, I wanted to work on a “service project” that be of special use to the church. I wanted to draw on my training in Reformation Studies to serve the church.

Here are my monographs:

The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany. Oxford Studies in Historical Theology (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

All of the above.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Hebrews and James?

It provides for the first time a collection of excerpts from Reformation commentaries on Hebrews and James that draws on sources previously inaccessible to most modern readers.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and edit? Why?

The sections of Hebrews that seem to suggest that salvation can be lost and the portions of James that stress that centrality of works in the Christian life.

5. What personally edified you in editing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

To see how deeply concerned the Reformers were even in biblical commentaries to console the faithful. Many commentaries wind up being works of consolation.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Hebrews and James?

I am not a NT scholar and so should not be making such recommendations.

7. What’s next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

Grief and Consolation in Early Modern Germany: Johannes Christoph Oelhafen’s “Pious Meditations on the Most Sorrowful Bereavement” (1619), (Fortress Press, 2018)

Protestants and Mysticism in Reformation Europe, edited with Vince Evener (Brill, 2018).

Own Ron Rittgers’s Hebrews and James commentary

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