Leppin, “Martin Luther”

9780801098215On this 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, we continue with our list of new and forthcoming works on Martin Luther. From Baker Academic Press, here is a new biography of the Reformer — looking rather skeptical on that jacket cover, come to think of it  — by German medievalist Volker Leppin (University of Tübingen), Martin Luther: A Late Medieval Life. The description from the publisher’s website:

This brief, insightful biography of Martin Luther strips away the myths surrounding the Reformer to offer a more nuanced account of his life and ministry. Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this accessible yet robustly historical and theological work highlights the medieval background of Luther’s life in contrast to contemporary legends. Internationally respected church historian Volker Leppin explores the Catholic roots of Lutheran thought and locates Luther’s life in the unfolding history of 16th-century Europe. Foreword by Timothy J. Wengert.

Harline, “A World Ablaze”

9780190275181Here is another in the flood of books commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation (Oxford), by BYU history professor Craig Harline. Looks interesting. Here’s a description from the publisher’s website:

October 2017 marks five hundred years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and launched the Protestant Reformation. At least, that’s what the legend says. But with a figure like Martin Luther, who looms so large in the historical imagination, it’s hard to separate the legend from the life, or even sometimes to separate assorted legends from each other. Over the centuries, Luther the man has given way to Luther the icon, a polished bronze figure on a pedestal.

In A World Ablaze, Craig Harline introduces us to the flesh-and-blood Martin Luther. Harline tells the riveting story of the first crucial years of the accidental crusade that would make Luther a legendary figure. He didn’t start out that way; Luther was a sometimes-cranky friar and professor who worried endlessly about the fate of his eternal soul. He sought answers in the Bible and the Church fathers, and what he found distressed him even more — the way many in the Church had come to understand salvation was profoundly wrong, thought Luther, putting millions of souls, not least his own, at risk of damnation. His ideas would pit him against numerous scholars, priests, bishops, princes, and the Pope, even as others adopted or adapted his cause, ultimately dividing the Church against itself. A World Ablaze is a tale not just of religious debate but of political intrigue, of shifting alliances and daring escapes, with Luther often narrowly avoiding capture, which might have led to execution. The conflict would eventually encompass the whole of Christendom and served as the crucible in which a new world was forged.

The Luther we find in these pages is not a statue to be admired but a complex figure — brilliant and volatile, fretful and self-righteous, curious and stubborn. Harline brings out the immediacy, uncertainty, and drama of his story, giving readers a sense of what it felt like in the moment, when the ending was still very much in doubt. The result is a masterful recreation of a momentous turning point in the history of the world.

Luther, “The Ninety-Five Theses” (Russell, ed.)

9780143107583All this year, we’ve been noting the many books that publishers are releasing for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses, the document that initiated the Protestant Reformation. Out today from Penguin Random House is a new translation, The Ninety-Five Theses and Other Writingsby Luther scholar William Russell. Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

For the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a new translation of Martin Luther’s most famous works by leading Luther scholar and pastor William Russell

This volume contains selections from Martin Luther’s most evocative and provocative writings, freshly translated, for the 21st century. These documents, which span the Reformer’s literary career, point to the enduring and flexible character of his central ideas. As Luther’s reform proposals emerged, they coalesced around some basic priorities, which he delivered to wide-ranging audiences–writing for children, preaching in congregations, formulating academic treatises, penning letters to family and friends, counter-punching critics, summarizing Biblical books, crafting confessions of faith, and more. This book demonstrates that range and provides entry points, for non-specialists and specialists alike, into the thought and life of the epoch-defining, fascinating, and controversial Martin Luther. With attention to the breadth of his literary output, it draws from his letters, sermons, popular writings, and formal theological works. This breadth allows readers to encounter Luther the man: the sinner and the saint, the public activist and the private counselor, the theologian and the pastor. These writings possess a practical, accessible arc, as Luther does not write only for specialists and church officials, but he applies his chief insights to the “real-life” issues that faced his rather wide variety of audiences.

Marshall, “Heretics and Believers”

In June, Yale University Press will release Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation by Peter Marshall (University of Warwick). The publisher’s description follows:

Heretics and BelievesA sumptuously written people’s history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall’s sweeping new history—the first major overview for general readers in a generation—argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of “reform” in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora’s Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.

With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of “religion” itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.

Hattersley, “The Catholics”

This month, Chatto & Windus released The Catholics: The Church and its People in Britain and Ireland, from the Reformation to the Present Day by Roy Hattersley (The Guardian). The publisher’s description follows:

CatholicsThroughout the three hundred years that followed the Act of Supremacy – which, by making Henry VIII head of the Church, confirmed in law the breach with Rome – English Catholics were prosecuted, persecuted and penalised for the public expression of their faith. Even after the passing of the emancipation acts Catholics were still the victims of institutionalised discrimination.

The first book to tell the story of the Catholics in Britain in a single volume, The Catholics includes much previously unpublished information. It focuses on the lives, and sometimes deaths, of individual Catholics – martyrs and apostates, priests and laymen, converts and recusants. It tells the story of the men and women who faced the dangers and difficulties of being what their enemies still call ‘Papists’. It describes the laws which circumscribed their lives, the political tensions which influenced their position within an essentially Anglican nation and the changes in dogma and liturgy by which Rome increasingly alienated their Protestant neighbours – and sometime even tested the loyalty of faithful Catholics.

The survival of Catholicism in Britain is the triumph of more than simple faith. It is the victory of moral and spiritual unbending certainty. Catholicism survives because it does not compromise. It is a characteristic that excites admiration in even a hardened atheist.

“Cultures of Communication” (Puff et al, eds)

In May, the University of Toronto Press will release Cultures of Communication: Theologies of Media in Early Modern Europe and Beyond edited by Helmut Puff (University of Michigan), Ulrike Strasser (University of California, San Diego),  and Christopher Wild (University of Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:

Culture of CommunicationContrary to the historiographical commonplace “no Reformation without print” Cultures of Communication examines media in the early modern world through the lens of the period’s religious history. Looking beyond the emergence of print, this collection of ground-breaking essays highlights the pivotal role of theology in the formation of the early modern cultures of communication. The authors assembled here urge us to understand the Reformation as a response to the perceived crisis of religious communication in late medieval Europe. In addition, they explore the novel demands placed on European media ecology by the acceleration and intensification of global interconnectedness in the early modern period. As the Christian evangelizing impulse began to propel growing numbers of Europeans outward to the Americas and Asia, theories and practices of religious communication had to be reformed to accommodate an array of new communicative constellations – across distances, languages, cultures.

 

Duffy, “Reformation Divided”

This month, Bloomsbury Publishing released Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants, and the Conversion of England by Eamon Duffy (Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

Reformation Divided.jpgPublished to mark the 500th anniversary of the events of 1517, Reformation Divided explores the impact in England of the cataclysmic transformations of European Christianity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther is usually referred to as ‘The Reformation’, a tendentious description implying that the shattering of the medieval religious foundations of Europe was a single process, in which a defective form of Christianity was replaced by one that was unequivocally benign, ‘the midwife of the modern world’. The book challenges these assumptions by tracing the ways in which the project of reforming Christendom from within, initiated by Christian ‘humanists’ like Erasmus and Thomas More, broke apart into conflicting and often murderous energies and ideologies, dividing not only Catholic from Protestant, but creating deep internal rifts within all the churches which emerged from Europe’s religious conflicts.

The book is in three parts: In ‘Thomas More and Heresy’, Duffy examines how and why England’s greatest humanist apparently abandoned the tolerant humanism of his youthful masterpiece Utopia, and became the bitterest opponent of the early Protestant movement. ‘Counter-Reformation England’ explores the ways in which post-Reformation English Catholics accommodated themselves to a complex new identity as persecuted religious dissidents within their own country, but in a European context, active participants in the global renewal of the Catholic Church. The book’s final section ‘The Godly and the Conversion of England’ considers the ideals and difficulties of radical reformers attempting to transform the conventional Protestantism of post-Reformation England into something more ardent and committed. In addressing these subjects, Duffy shines new light on the fratricidal ideological conflicts which lasted for more than a century, and whose legacy continues to shape the modern world.

Belloc, “Characters of the Reformation”

In April, Ignatius Press will release a new paperback edition of Characters of the Reformation by Hilaire Belloc. The publisher’s description follows:

characters-of-the-reformationOne of the most fascinating books ever written by the great Catholic historian Belloc, he presents  in bold colors the 23 principal characters of the Protestant Reformation, focusing primarily on those figures concerned with the events in England, analyzing their strengths, mistakes, motives and deeds which changed the course of history.

Among the characters he examines are Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, St. Thomas More, Mary Tudor, Thomas Cromwell, William Cecil, Mary Stuart, Cardinal Richelieu and many more. Belloc illustrates how the motives of the Protestant leaders were rarely religious in nature, but usually political or economic. He underscores the fact that European Christendom was once a single united entity, under the authority of the Catholic Church, each country viewing itself as a single “province” of the whole.

Many of Europe’s Princes resented the power that the Bishop of Rome held in their own lands. The Reformation, aided by the rise of Nationalism, was a means for the nobles of Europe to shake off Papal authority and rule their territory independently. It also gave European monarchs control over the Church and all of its property in their realm, including the taxes that would normally be sent to Rome.

The nobles grew rich by confiscating the wealth of the Church, and resisted reconciliation if that meant returning the wealth to its rightful owner. In subsequent generations, the fear of this possibility gave the noble classes an incentive to remain in the Protestant camp. Belloc warns that this breakup of Christendom may still destroy our Christian civilization.

Even those who think they do not like history will be unable to put this book down as it brings history vividly to life. As usual, Belloc’s historical perspective offers timeless wisdom and insight rarely seen in modern times.

Lecture: “The Reformation and Law: 500th Anniversary Perspectives” (Apr. 3-4)

In April,  The Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University will host a lecture titled “The Reformation and Law: 500th Anniversary Perspectives.” A brief description of the lecture follows:

emory-university-eventThis lecture, the fourth installment in The McDonald Distinguished Scholar Lectures on Christian Scholarship, will be held April 3 and 4, 2017.

“The Reformation and Law: 500th Anniversary Perspectives,” will be a scholarly celebration of the contributions of the Protestant Reformation to the transformation of theology, art, music, liturgy, church life, politics, economics, and the law. The celebration will include a Bach organ concert by Timothy Albrecht and Presentation of Reformation archives by Pat Graham.

More information on the lecture can be found here.

Kaufmann, “Luther’s Jews”

In March, Oxford University Press will release Luther’s Jews: A Journey into Anti-Semitism by Thomas Kaufmann (University of Gottingen). The publisher’s description follows:

luthers-jewsIf there was one person who could be said to light the touch-paper for the epochal transformation of European religion and culture that we now call the Reformation, it was Martin Luther. And Luther and his followers were to play a central role in the Protestant world that was to emerge from the Reformation process, both in Germany and the wider world.

In all senses of the term, this religious pioneer was a huge figure in European history. Yet there is also the very uncomfortable but at the same time undeniable fact that he was an anti-semite. Written by one of the world’s leading authorities on the Reformation, this is the vexed and sometimes shocking story of Martin Luther’s increasingly vitriolic attitude towards the Jews over the course of his lifetime, set against the backdrop of a world in religious turmoil.

A final chapter then reflects on the extent to which the legacy of Luther’s anti-semitism was to taint the Lutheran church over the following centuries. Scheduled for publication on the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s birth, in light of the subsequent course of German history it is a tale both sobering and ominous in equal measure.

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