Bo Giertz’s new novel

Bo Giertz (1905-1998) was a confessional, orthodox Lutheran bishop in the Church of Sweden. He was also a notable novelist. Many of you have doubtless read  Hammer of God, about three generations of pastors, each facing the various challenges to the Gospel of each era.   That novel has been a life-changer for many readers.

Now, at long last, another Giertz novel has been translated into English, The Knights of Rhodes.

It’s a historical novel about the Knights Hospitaller and the siege of Rhodes.  The Hospitallers started as a hospital order–which remained a part of their ministry–but they became a military order during the Crusades.  Think monks–complete with vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, as well as performing the daily liturgies–plus swords and cannons.  This novel is set in the 16th century, with the knights in their formidable citadel on the island of Rhodes having to face the Turkish empire under the young sultan Suleiman, beginning his plan to conquer Europe.

The characters come alive and stay in the mind.   The battle sequences are thrilling.  The spiritual complexities are fascinating.

The Knights of Rhodes is not as pre-occupied with theological issues as Hammer of God, at least not on the surface.  And yet, even this story of Roman Catholic monastic knights is full of what Luther was preaching about the same time as the Turkish invasion.  The characters have piety of various kinds, but in a climate of sin, violence, betrayals, and the competition of a triumphant Islam, they need to discover Jesus and the Theology of the Cross.

Not only all of this, but the translator is our own Bror Erickson, frequent commenter on this blog.  Let’s give it the Amazon bomb treatment, buying it up and advancing its sales ranking  (currently in the 800,000s) to attract other people’s attention to it.

I do have one complaint:  Doesn’t Wipf & Stock have any copyeditors or proofreaders?  There are typos and other mistakes on every page. (Bror, insist on a new edition!  If you need someone to do the copyediting, I’ll do it.  The book deserves that.)

Anyway, you can buy it by clicking the links.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://qaz1.bannerland.org/wordpress Alex Klages

    Bror,

    I also volunteer to send you a list of proofreading/typographical errors. As Wipf and Stock is print-on-demand, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to issue a second, revised edition…!

    Having said that, it’s a very different book from Hammer of God, but very good.

  • http://qaz1.bannerland.org/wordpress Alex Klages

    Bror,

    I also volunteer to send you a list of proofreading/typographical errors. As Wipf and Stock is print-on-demand, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to issue a second, revised edition…!

    Having said that, it’s a very different book from Hammer of God, but very good.

  • James Olson

    I placed an order, without even reading all this post, but I turned around and canceled it when I learned the book is a mess of typos, errors, mistakes. I’m very disappointed. The “publisher” he used is a self-publisher, so Rev. Erickson is responsible for the problems in the manuscript.

    Frankly, I’m surprised Rev. Erickson translated this book, instead of Giertz’ novel set in the Reformation times. Swedish friends tell me it is his best book, by far, even better than “Hammer of God.”

    I hope Rev. Erickson cleans up the manuscript. It’s a shame he didn’t do a better job with it. Giertz deserves better, Rev. Erickson.

  • James Olson

    I placed an order, without even reading all this post, but I turned around and canceled it when I learned the book is a mess of typos, errors, mistakes. I’m very disappointed. The “publisher” he used is a self-publisher, so Rev. Erickson is responsible for the problems in the manuscript.

    Frankly, I’m surprised Rev. Erickson translated this book, instead of Giertz’ novel set in the Reformation times. Swedish friends tell me it is his best book, by far, even better than “Hammer of God.”

    I hope Rev. Erickson cleans up the manuscript. It’s a shame he didn’t do a better job with it. Giertz deserves better, Rev. Erickson.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Mr. Olson,

    A bit harsh, don’t you think?

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Mr. Olson,

    A bit harsh, don’t you think?

  • Brian

    There seems to be an ongoing issue with mass market paperbacks’ copy editing. I was interested in reading the Stieg Larsson books but the horrible editing on the back cover blurbs makes me leery of diving in.

  • Brian

    There seems to be an ongoing issue with mass market paperbacks’ copy editing. I was interested in reading the Stieg Larsson books but the horrible editing on the back cover blurbs makes me leery of diving in.

  • sg

    please comment on Charles Murray’s new article on school choice.

    Why Charter Schools Fail the Test
    By Charles Murray
    New York Times
    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    http://www.aei.org/article/102021

  • sg

    please comment on Charles Murray’s new article on school choice.

    Why Charter Schools Fail the Test
    By Charles Murray
    New York Times
    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    http://www.aei.org/article/102021

  • sg

    sorry, I meant to direct the request for comment to Gene Veith.

  • sg

    sorry, I meant to direct the request for comment to Gene Veith.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Vieth,
    I’ll take up your offer.
    I am responsible for those typo’s and errors, and everyone I see jumps off the page at me. I could have paid for copy editing and wish I had, but it was cost prohibitive to me. I did go through it numerous times to weed them out.
    Translating is not an easy thing.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Vieth,
    I’ll take up your offer.
    I am responsible for those typo’s and errors, and everyone I see jumps off the page at me. I could have paid for copy editing and wish I had, but it was cost prohibitive to me. I did go through it numerous times to weed them out.
    Translating is not an easy thing.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tapani,
    I would have to agree somewhat with Mr. Olson.
    Though I stand by my translation as being accurate, and reflecting the thoughts and nuances Bo Giertz envisioned, and in that way is maybe better than some of the previous Bo Giertz material translated. There are some typos and so on. Some I know I corrected at one point, and am embarrassed to see in the manuscript now. Bo Giertz does deserve better than that.
    I tried to find some to help me, as I knew my eyes were getting dull and see what I thought I had translated, and not what I had actually written. Yet, I find offers now, and hopefully we can get it worked out.
    The people I have heard from, have been overall very pleased with the book, and for that I am grateful.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Tapani,
    I would have to agree somewhat with Mr. Olson.
    Though I stand by my translation as being accurate, and reflecting the thoughts and nuances Bo Giertz envisioned, and in that way is maybe better than some of the previous Bo Giertz material translated. There are some typos and so on. Some I know I corrected at one point, and am embarrassed to see in the manuscript now. Bo Giertz does deserve better than that.
    I tried to find some to help me, as I knew my eyes were getting dull and see what I thought I had translated, and not what I had actually written. Yet, I find offers now, and hopefully we can get it worked out.
    The people I have heard from, have been overall very pleased with the book, and for that I am grateful.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    James,
    As far as why I translated this book rather than “Faith Alone” the novel to which you refer. I made a gentleman’s agreement with another friend to let him translate that. I don’t know if he is doing that at this point or not. But I think he is working on it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    James,
    As far as why I translated this book rather than “Faith Alone” the novel to which you refer. I made a gentleman’s agreement with another friend to let him translate that. I don’t know if he is doing that at this point or not. But I think he is working on it.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, despite the typos, this is still a very good story and worth getting.

    For another thing, it interestingly anticipates the current conflict between Christianity and Islam. There is even a chapter entitled “September 11″!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Well, despite the typos, this is still a very good story and worth getting.

    For another thing, it interestingly anticipates the current conflict between Christianity and Islam. There is even a chapter entitled “September 11″!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Veith,
    Thanks for the great review. Perhaps with a revision we can get some of it on the flap.
    You hit here in your comment on one of the more intriguing aspects of the book. It is prescient in how it deals with the conflict of the West with Islam. Of course, there is a lot of history there t draw upon also. But it is incredible being as he wrote the book in 1972.
    This is one of those books where you find something new behind every reading. The theology becomes more and more pronounced the secon and third time you read it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Veith,
    Thanks for the great review. Perhaps with a revision we can get some of it on the flap.
    You hit here in your comment on one of the more intriguing aspects of the book. It is prescient in how it deals with the conflict of the West with Islam. Of course, there is a lot of history there t draw upon also. But it is incredible being as he wrote the book in 1972.
    This is one of those books where you find something new behind every reading. The theology becomes more and more pronounced the secon and third time you read it.

  • Heschel

    So the book doesn’t mention the Reformation? These are essentially Catholic protagonists? Cool.

  • Heschel

    So the book doesn’t mention the Reformation? These are essentially Catholic protagonists? Cool.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, Heschel. Lutheran theology is not just for Lutherans! That’s something that came out of the book very interestingly.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, Heschel. Lutheran theology is not just for Lutherans! That’s something that came out of the book very interestingly.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    Kudos to Bror for undertaking this task single-handedly!

    Unfortunately, Giertz translations seem particularly prone to typos – has anyone ever noticed how many there are even in the revised edition of Nelson’s ‘Hammer’?

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    Kudos to Bror for undertaking this task single-handedly!

    Unfortunately, Giertz translations seem particularly prone to typos – has anyone ever noticed how many there are even in the revised edition of Nelson’s ‘Hammer’?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This post just moved this book to the top of the heap for me, dear brother, Bror! Can’t wait to read this.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This post just moved this book to the top of the heap for me, dear brother, Bror! Can’t wait to read this.

  • fws

    go bror! translate more!

  • fws

    go bror! translate more!

  • Steve Demlow

    I greatly appreciate “The Hammer of God” but found the numerous typos in the latest edition so distracting that I’ll wait to buy “The Knights of Rhodes” in the hope that it will undergo better proofreading. It was somewhat embarrassing to recommend “Hammer” to others as a great book while being apologetic about the shoddy production quality. Nonetheless, I’m thankful for the skill and willingness of those who translate Giertz and others who would otherwise be inaccessible to most of us.

  • Steve Demlow

    I greatly appreciate “The Hammer of God” but found the numerous typos in the latest edition so distracting that I’ll wait to buy “The Knights of Rhodes” in the hope that it will undergo better proofreading. It was somewhat embarrassing to recommend “Hammer” to others as a great book while being apologetic about the shoddy production quality. Nonetheless, I’m thankful for the skill and willingness of those who translate Giertz and others who would otherwise be inaccessible to most of us.

  • http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz Eric R. Andrae

    I was one of those that Bror asked to read over the manuscript. I regret that my plate was simply too full at that time – I should have moved some other things over and done it. Sorry, Bror.

    Mark, Steve, et al, if you want a comprehensive list of all the errors in The Hammer of God, let me know and I’ll email it to you. And you’re right, Giertz translations have been subjected to too many errors. However, Lutheran Legacy did a great job with Preaching from the Whole Bible and will also be publishing Giertz reader of his essays and articles/lectures about Giertz; look for it this summer. It will be the most comprehensive resource ever on Giertz in English.

    Eric R. Andrae
    President
    International Giertz Society (ELS)

  • http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz Eric R. Andrae

    I was one of those that Bror asked to read over the manuscript. I regret that my plate was simply too full at that time – I should have moved some other things over and done it. Sorry, Bror.

    Mark, Steve, et al, if you want a comprehensive list of all the errors in The Hammer of God, let me know and I’ll email it to you. And you’re right, Giertz translations have been subjected to too many errors. However, Lutheran Legacy did a great job with Preaching from the Whole Bible and will also be publishing Giertz reader of his essays and articles/lectures about Giertz; look for it this summer. It will be the most comprehensive resource ever on Giertz in English.

    Eric R. Andrae
    President
    International Giertz Society (ELS)

  • helen

    “Translate more”, but do get a proof reader!
    I haven’t seen the book but I’ve read your posts here.

    [Ordinarily, that is an 'off limits' area for correction but
    the plea is for accurate typing.]
    –a sometime proofreader

  • helen

    “Translate more”, but do get a proof reader!
    I haven’t seen the book but I’ve read your posts here.

    [Ordinarily, that is an 'off limits' area for correction but
    the plea is for accurate typing.]
    –a sometime proofreader

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Helen,
    Generally, I’m more careful with my translation work(han I am responding to a post or comment at a blog.
    Last night I started to read my final product looking for theses typos.
    As I said, I had noticed a few previously that I know I had corrected at one time. I think now I know where the mistake was made. Believe it or not, it was a file mix up on my part. When just before production they asked me to change a few things to conform to Chicago Manuel of Style. I made those corrections not realizing that I was not using the same draft I had submitted as my final draft.
    I hope you can realize the work that goes into translating like this and how many times you read and reread to get the translation polished, and how this can happen.
    We can thank Veith for having called my attention to it the problem. I have contacted Wipf and Stock, and another friend to help me find the errors in this already typeset manuscript. The problem is being rectified. Thankfully, Wipf and Stock is easier to work with on this and the experience, though costly, is more pleasant than my friends and I have had with Augsburg and ” The Hammer of God” to change their typos, which belong to Augsburg. Also a more pleasant experience than I have had with other publishers I have worked with in the past.
    Perhaps we can also appreciate that the point has been made?
    Maybe Veith can alert all of you when the changes have been made. In the meantime, know that it is a good story with profound ramifications.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Helen,
    Generally, I’m more careful with my translation work(han I am responding to a post or comment at a blog.
    Last night I started to read my final product looking for theses typos.
    As I said, I had noticed a few previously that I know I had corrected at one time. I think now I know where the mistake was made. Believe it or not, it was a file mix up on my part. When just before production they asked me to change a few things to conform to Chicago Manuel of Style. I made those corrections not realizing that I was not using the same draft I had submitted as my final draft.
    I hope you can realize the work that goes into translating like this and how many times you read and reread to get the translation polished, and how this can happen.
    We can thank Veith for having called my attention to it the problem. I have contacted Wipf and Stock, and another friend to help me find the errors in this already typeset manuscript. The problem is being rectified. Thankfully, Wipf and Stock is easier to work with on this and the experience, though costly, is more pleasant than my friends and I have had with Augsburg and ” The Hammer of God” to change their typos, which belong to Augsburg. Also a more pleasant experience than I have had with other publishers I have worked with in the past.
    Perhaps we can also appreciate that the point has been made?
    Maybe Veith can alert all of you when the changes have been made. In the meantime, know that it is a good story with profound ramifications.

  • Peggy Pedersen

    Rev Erikson,
    My husband and I are editors for Hansard (record of debate for the British Columbia Parliament). My husband is an excellent typographer as well as graphic designer. He also as an original Danish/Norwegian speaker understands a lot of Swedish. We would be happy to edit, and set up for printing Giertz’s other book (free). – since you already have an offer for this one. My husband has a lot of experience in camera-ready preparation for printing and has done books for Lulu, Trafford (self-publishing firms) as well as conventional printers.

  • Peggy Pedersen

    Rev Erikson,
    My husband and I are editors for Hansard (record of debate for the British Columbia Parliament). My husband is an excellent typographer as well as graphic designer. He also as an original Danish/Norwegian speaker understands a lot of Swedish. We would be happy to edit, and set up for printing Giertz’s other book (free). – since you already have an offer for this one. My husband has a lot of experience in camera-ready preparation for printing and has done books for Lulu, Trafford (self-publishing firms) as well as conventional printers.

  • Peggy Pedersen

    By the way, don’t judge my editing by my post. It’s early in the morning and I’m not in editing mode! Editing always requires at least three rereads.

  • Peggy Pedersen

    By the way, don’t judge my editing by my post. It’s early in the morning and I’m not in editing mode! Editing always requires at least three rereads.

  • James Olson

    I hope Dr. Veith will let us know when the cleaned up version is available.

    I looked at this book on Google and there were so many obvious and horrendously glaring typos and errors, there is no way I would buy it a this point.

    Self-publishing is not all its cracked up to be, I guess.

    I’ll give Pastor Bror an “A” for good intentions, but a “D-” minus for execution.

    I hope the translation is accurate, in my experience non-native speakers of a language, or those who come to a non-native language later in life usually don’t do a very good job translating, but I’m sure it is better than nothing.

  • James Olson

    I hope Dr. Veith will let us know when the cleaned up version is available.

    I looked at this book on Google and there were so many obvious and horrendously glaring typos and errors, there is no way I would buy it a this point.

    Self-publishing is not all its cracked up to be, I guess.

    I’ll give Pastor Bror an “A” for good intentions, but a “D-” minus for execution.

    I hope the translation is accurate, in my experience non-native speakers of a language, or those who come to a non-native language later in life usually don’t do a very good job translating, but I’m sure it is better than nothing.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bror, if you want me to work on it, write me. I believe you have my e-mail address now (the college account).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bror, if you want me to work on it, write me. I believe you have my e-mail address now (the college account).

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Dr. Veith,
    I don’t believe I do have that one, and it isn’t all that easy to find on the Patrick Henry page either.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Dr. Veith,
    I don’t believe I do have that one, and it isn’t all that easy to find on the Patrick Henry page either.

  • helen

    I hope you can realize the work that goes into translating like this and how many times you read and reread to get the translation polished, and how this can happen. –Bror Erickson

    I know the work that goes into a major piece of writing, and I can understand how that happens.
    I’ve seen it. Frustrating to see the typos you know you deleted end up in print!

    Hope it all gets edited out. Typos are like mosquitos, when you are reading. :(

  • helen

    I hope you can realize the work that goes into translating like this and how many times you read and reread to get the translation polished, and how this can happen. –Bror Erickson

    I know the work that goes into a major piece of writing, and I can understand how that happens.
    I’ve seen it. Frustrating to see the typos you know you deleted end up in print!

    Hope it all gets edited out. Typos are like mosquitos, when you are reading. :(

  • helen

    Meanwhile, don’t worry too much about us kibitzers!

    If we could do what you are doing, we should be trying it. 8-^)

  • helen

    Meanwhile, don’t worry too much about us kibitzers!

    If we could do what you are doing, we should be trying it. 8-^)

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    James Olson, are you a native speaker of Swedish, then?

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    James Olson, are you a native speaker of Swedish, then?

  • http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz Eric R. Andrae

    A translation should be into one’s current primary (best) language. That way one can always ask and answer the crucial questions: “Does this make sense?” “Is this the way an American would write this?”

    BTW, these pages serve as Giertz’s home on the web, at least in English: http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz

  • http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz Eric R. Andrae

    A translation should be into one’s current primary (best) language. That way one can always ask and answer the crucial questions: “Does this make sense?” “Is this the way an American would write this?”

    BTW, these pages serve as Giertz’s home on the web, at least in English: http://www.lsfpgh.com/about-bo-giertz

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bror, I’ll write you.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Bror, I’ll write you.

  • http://www.discerningthetimes.blogspot.com Matt Redmond

    Thank you for this post. As soon as I read it a number of weeks ago, I started looking for the “Hammer of God.” I just got it this week from the public library here in town.

    It blew me away.

    Each story was at once an encouragement and a emboldening exhortation. So thank you for the recommendation. With all its typos, it is still some of the best reading I have done in a long while.

  • http://www.discerningthetimes.blogspot.com Matt Redmond

    Thank you for this post. As soon as I read it a number of weeks ago, I started looking for the “Hammer of God.” I just got it this week from the public library here in town.

    It blew me away.

    Each story was at once an encouragement and a emboldening exhortation. So thank you for the recommendation. With all its typos, it is still some of the best reading I have done in a long while.

  • Dan Burfiend

    I recently read The Hammer of God and was pleased to see that another of Giertz’s novels has been translated. Thank you Bror Erickson!

    In light of the fact that the costs of publishing are high and the fact that Swedish is not widely spoken, could a Lutheran non-profit (CPH, Luther Academy, the International Giertz society, the Cranach Institute, etc.), with the help of donors, sponsor (in part) the translation and publication of this and other Giertz novels? With the popularity of the Hammer of God and its uniqueness as a Lutheran novel (we need more novels that can capture the imagination and direct it to faith in Christ alone), it would seem probable that many would be willing to support the cause. I know that I would be willing to contribute to such a cause? I know very little about publishing, but I do have some background in development. I would be interested in what you, Dr. Veith, would have to say about the idea.

  • Dan Burfiend

    I recently read The Hammer of God and was pleased to see that another of Giertz’s novels has been translated. Thank you Bror Erickson!

    In light of the fact that the costs of publishing are high and the fact that Swedish is not widely spoken, could a Lutheran non-profit (CPH, Luther Academy, the International Giertz society, the Cranach Institute, etc.), with the help of donors, sponsor (in part) the translation and publication of this and other Giertz novels? With the popularity of the Hammer of God and its uniqueness as a Lutheran novel (we need more novels that can capture the imagination and direct it to faith in Christ alone), it would seem probable that many would be willing to support the cause. I know that I would be willing to contribute to such a cause? I know very little about publishing, but I do have some background in development. I would be interested in what you, Dr. Veith, would have to say about the idea.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Dan,
    There is a Giertz society, woefully underfunded. I’m a member. We exist primarily to translate his works. We do it on our own time and expense, but share information and try to put on seminars here and there.
    I don’t know if a non-profit could but I suppose it could subsidize the translation and publication of this and other works.
    Giertz wrote over six hundred titles, he only wrote three novels. This year is going to be a good year for Giertz translations. We have this book, one of his dogmatics, and a reader coming out soon.
    I won’t leave my number on line, but it isn’t to hard to get a hold of me or find my number if you want to talk more.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Dan,
    There is a Giertz society, woefully underfunded. I’m a member. We exist primarily to translate his works. We do it on our own time and expense, but share information and try to put on seminars here and there.
    I don’t know if a non-profit could but I suppose it could subsidize the translation and publication of this and other works.
    Giertz wrote over six hundred titles, he only wrote three novels. This year is going to be a good year for Giertz translations. We have this book, one of his dogmatics, and a reader coming out soon.
    I won’t leave my number on line, but it isn’t to hard to get a hold of me or find my number if you want to talk more.


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