This new collection of essays from Oxford on the Protestant Reformation looks very interesting: The Oxford History of the Reformation. The editor is historian Peter Marshall (Warwick). The blurb from Oxford credits the Reformation for creating the pluralist world in which we live. That might be a bit of an overstatement. As Harold Berman and others showed, pluralism has been a big part of Western culture from at least the High Middle Ages. But there’s no denying, as the blub says, that the Reformation transformed pluralism into something even the Reformers didn’t expect. Here’s the description from the Oxford website:
The Reformation was a seismic event in history whose consequences are still unfolding in Europe and across the world.
Martin Luther’s protests against the marketing of indulgences in 1517 were part of a long-standing pattern of calls for reform in the Christian Church. But they rapidly took a radical and unexpected turn, engulfing first Germany, and then Europe, in furious arguments about how God’s will was to be ‘saved’.
However, these debates did not remain confined to a narrow sphere of theology. They came to reshape politics and international relations; social, cultural, and artistic developments; relations between the sexes; and the patterns and performances of everyday life. They were also the stimulus for Christianity’s transformation into a truly global religion, as agents of the Roman Catholic Church sought to compensate for losses in Europe with new conversions in Asia and the Americas.
Covering both Protestant and Catholic reform movements, in Europe and across the wider world, this compact volume tells the story of the Reformation from its immediate, explosive beginnings, through to its profound longer-term consequences and legacy for the modern world. The story is not one of an inevitable triumph of liberty over oppression, enlightenment over ignorance. Rather, it tells how a multitude of rival groups and individuals, with or without the support of political power, strove after visions of ‘reform’. And how, in spite of themselves, they laid the foundations for the plural and conflicted world we now inhabit.