A Word about Waldenström

by Tommy Carlson

Since the first issue of Pietisten (Summer, 1986), we have provided translations from the New Testament commentary of Paul Peter Waldenström (PPW). Perhaps it is time to refresh our acquaintance with him. I encourage you to review “Where is Waldenström” by Elder Lindahl (Fall 1997) and “The Revolutionary Waldenström” by Olle Engström (Winter 1998). These fine articles will be reprinted on www.pietisten.org. I focus here on PPW’s commitment to translation and commentary as he said it.

While a student at Uppsala, PPW met and was deeply influenced by C.O. Rosenius, the editor of Pietisten. George Scott, the Scottish Methodist Pastor had founded Pietisten in 1842 [See letters from Lenard J. Hill, Scott’s GGGGGrandson, p. 19]. Almost immediately the government required Scott to leave Sweden and Rosenius carried on as editor. PPW was ordained in 1864 by Archbishop Reuterdahl at Uppsala.

When Rosenius died in 1868, Waldenström succeeded him as editor. He was deeply involved in the pietist conventicle movement and was associated with controversies such as free communion and atonement. From 1884 to 1905, he served as a member of the second chamber of the Swedish parliament. He became President of the Swedish Covenant in 1904 when he replaced his friend E.J. Ekman after a political and theological struggle with him.

Waldenström spent 11 years translating the New Testament from Greek to Swedish. He also added commentaries ranging from word studies to theological expositions. He stated his aim in the introduction to his commentary:

1. To translate the New Testament text comprehensively, following the oldest and most reliable evidence;
2. To render the words of the original text through the translation as true as possible without outside consideration;
3. To render the words of the original text in as good and clean Swedish as is possible for me;
4. To explain plainly in the comments the understanding of the word as far as I have the capacity to understand it…
In the comments it has been my endeavor not to say too much and not to say too little, use as few words as possible, to say in substance as much as possible. Whether I have always been successful is another thing and for others to judge… I have done as well as I have had grace.
May God in His grace bless this my work for the teaching and guidance of those, who in their consideration of God’s word, seek not only an occasional reviving of the senses, but a real penetrating to the Divine word’s right understanding and in that learn to know God more and more and Him whom He sent, Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanses from all sins. — Gavle, 16 Dec., 1886, P. Waldenstöm