Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

Thomas Manteufel

Scripture References in this Resource

2 Corinthians 4:1


Pless, Joel L. "In the Footsteps of Walther: The Doctrine of the Ministry in the Writings of George Stoeckhardt." Ph.D. diss.,Concordia Seminary, 2008. 243 pp.

This dissertation is an historical study of how George Stoeckhardt, professor of exegetical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis from 1878-1913, understood the doctrine of the ministry and how he articulated it through his various writings. Chapter 1 of the dissertation examines Stoeckhardt's life and his formative influences. His family background, his education, his Wingolf experiences, and his experiences as a chaplain during the Franco-Prussia War are addressed. Chapter 2 examines his exegetical methodology which developed his understanding of the ministry. Stoeckhardt's method of exegesis can be succinctly described as "take the text as it reads." This chapter describes how Stoeckhardt's understanding of Scripture and his exegetical methodology shaped his understanding of the ministry. Chapter 3 delineates three key loci of Stoeckhardt's doctrine of the ministry: (1) Called ministers are servants of the Word; (2) The ministry of the Word is perpetuated by the universal priesthood; (3) The ministry of the Word is instituted by God. These are the three recurring themes whenever Stoeckhardt wrote at length about the ministry. Chapter 4 presents excerpts of Stoeckhardt's further articulations of this doctrine. Especially studied are his numerous convention essays, in which he presented several aspects of his understanding of the ministry. Chapter 5 of the dissertation presents C. F. W. Walther's background and highlights the numerous theological struggles he was engaged in-namely against Grabau, Loehe and Lutherans in Germany-as he formulated and articulated his ecclesiology. Walther's experiences at the 1841 Altenburg Debate are especially highlighted. For Walther, soteriology was the starting point in theology, with his ecclesiology flowing out of his understanding of soteriology. This chapter then highlights the areas of agreement between Stoeckhardt and Walther on the ministry. The sixth and final chapter of the dissertation summarizes how Stoeckhardt understood the ministry and the dissertation's major findings, that while Stoeckhardt and Walther may have had some exegetical differences, the dissertation did not find any doctrinal differences between Stoeckhardt and Walther on the ministry.

This dissertation also features four appendices containing two of Stoeckhardt's writings which have never been translated. Appendix One is an academic reply to Dr. Jeffrey Young's scholarship on Stoeckhardt's writings, concerning whether Stoeckhardt departed from Walther on the ministry. This academic reply takes issue with Young's methodology and conclusions about Stoeckhardt's doctrine. Appendix Two is an English translation of Stoeckhardt's major writing on the doctrine of the ministry, the 1895 Der Lutheraner article, "On the Establishment and Preservation of the Public Ministry." Appendix Three presents Walther's eight 1841 Altenburg Theses on the doctrine of the church. Each thesis is given in the original German, followed immediately by a contemporary English translation. Appendix Four contains an English translation of a letter of clarification which Stoeckhardt wrote about his doctrinal position for Der Lutheraner in 1878 and also the German text of that letter.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.