- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Augsburg Fortress; Subsequent edition (1 Jan. 1959)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0800625692
- ISBN-13: 978-0800625696
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,955,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Beyond Charity: Reformation Initiatives for the Poor Paperback – 1 Jan 1959
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Lindberg's book is divided into two sections: (1) a historical presentation of reformation initiatives for the poor; (2) a collection of a dozen primary sources related to this subject. Firstly, the historical presentation, which covers the first 160 odd pages of the book, shows impressive erudition with an incredible wealth of footnotes (perhaps excessive) numbering almost two hundred per chapter. Lindberg's writing is not terribly engaging and will not likely win new fans for reformation history studies, but for the medieval historian, or the layperson who is already interested in this subject, this is tolerable. Certainly the writing is clear enough, and Lindberg first points out the historiographical context in which he is engaging before chronicling the reformation initiatives for the poor.
His point is that policy concerning the poor was in fact (and contrary to other scholars' views) affected by theological concerns, most notably a change from medieval notions of earning up salvation through almsgiving, towards the idea (re-introduced by Luther) that salvation cannot be obtained that way, and that rather giving is the natural duty of the Christian arising out of the state of forgiveness and salvation by grace through faith. He gives ample evidence to support his claims, drawn to a large part from documents which he includes in the second half of his book. Thus his argument should be taken into account by social historians who might want to downplay the importance of theology and individuals like Luther.
More entertaining than Lindberg's narrative are the primary sources contained in the second half. These are: 1. Canon Law (post-1140), 2. Jacques de Vitry, a sermon illustration, 3. John Hus "On Charity Trusts", 4. Johann Geiler of Kaysersberg "Concerning Begging", 5. Nuremberg Begging Order of 1478, 6. A Forward by Martin Luther, 7. Erasmus "Beggar Talk", 8. Andreas Bodenstein "There Should Be No Beggars Among Christians", 9. Martin Luther "Clergy Should Preach Against Usury", 10. "Concerning the Common Chest of Schwabach", 11. Order of Wittenberg (1522), 12. Poor Order of Ypres (1525).
The book also contains a bibliography, and the footnotes should provide additional reading for the serious scholar.
In summary, a very useful and necessary book for anyone interested in the subject, especially given the controversy surrounding religion-based social work even today, but not light reading or introductory material for those unfamiliar with the field.
Pages fell out of the book the day I started reading it. The binding is so bad in certain sections of the book that 20-some pages just separate themselves from the rest.
This isn't an isolated incident, either. Several of my classmates have had pages fall out in similar sections of the book, so I can only assume that it's an actual manufacturing problem.
The book is still usable, but it's rather inconvenient to have to constantly stuff 22 pages back into place just so you can read about Martin Luther.
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