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Luther the Reformer Paper Edit: The Story of the Man and His Career Paperback – 1 Jan 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: FORTRESS PRESS; New edition edition (1 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800635973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800635978
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,226,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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When Martin Luther died, the news was reported throughout Latin Christendom. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson on 18 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
This fascinating book is a biography of that first and most famous of the Reformers, Martin Luther. However, it is much more than a biography. In this book, the author traces the evolution of Luther's theology, as he moved from being a faithfully conforming monk, to being a loyal reformer, to being a violent opponent of the Roman Catholic Church. Along the way, the author explains Luther's opinions, where they came from, and how they evolved.
I must say that I found this to be an absolutely riveting book. At first, I was somewhat worried that the author, a Lutheran professor, was taking far too biased of a look at Luther. However, this book is not intended to be an exposé, but a look at Luther's theology. All people, from all sides, presented in this book are covered in a sympathetic way, accepting them as they appeared, and not attributing any spurious attitudes or motives to them.
Overall, I found this book to be quite interesting and informative. If you are interested in Lutheran theology, or just reading about Martin Luther, then I highly recommend this book to you.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My copy was bought for me some years ago by an ex-girlfriend (though she wasn't my girlfriend then) at the time when I started taking an interest in the origins of current religious thinking.

This is an excellent biography of the man that some say kicked off the Reformation in 1517. It is also a first class look at the both the theology of the time, and also some of the politics.

I am not a complete expert on the period, so it's hard for me to pull the book apart. It's clearly one of the better books to purchase or to simply read if you are really interested in both the man, his theology and the period in question.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 29 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
A fine starting point for Luther studies 2 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Kittleson's concise treatment of the life and work of Martin Luther is a wonderful starting point for those interested in knowing more about Luther who are NOT interested in minute detail. Kittleson covers the major writings, the famous "here I stand" moments, and all the other basics to understanding Luther and his beliefs. While this is not as in depth as Oberman or Erikson's treatments, it is informative and well-though out, put together in a manner which reads easily and stays in your head permanently, a must for seminarians and others who read quickly and forget even faster. Kittleson has done a marvelous job presenting Luther here; I highly recommend this book for others.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Best Basic book on Luther 23 Jan. 2001
By rodboomboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book easily eclipses Bainton's and others in providing an accurate, yet readable for the layman as well as pastor and scholar who wants to begin understanding Luther and the Reformation. Not bogged down with the scholarly drawl of painstakingly covering all the angles and previous opinions on this most intriguing of historial figures. Great maps and index. Highly recommened.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Luther the Reformer 30 Oct. 2003
By Susan Jenkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book, both for people who want a first book to read about Martin Luther, and for those who know the story well. Luther has been the subject of many biographies; Kittelson's book is unique in blending the development of Luther's theology with an account of the life of the man. Kittelson's expertise allows him to tell a complex story clearly and concisely. The book inspired me to read more about Luther, including some of his own writings.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The best Luther biography I know of 23 Mar. 2008
By Jesse Rouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was an exceptional biography of Martin Luther. While most biographies tend to focus on only a small portion of his life (usually his initial "discovery" of his doctrine of justification and the initial break from Rome), Kittleson tackles the life of Luther as a complete story. While he did spend far more time (i.e. the first 200 pages) on Luther's early life and "conversion," he spent the remainder of the book looking at the often neglected later life of Luther. While Bainton's biography was groundbreaking, and is still a good book, this one surpasses it in it's fairness and completeness (though it does lack a little of the entheusiasm that Bainton had).

This book makes Luther's life and theology very accessable to non-historians. Kittleson always puts Luther's ideas and writings in context, giving us a feel for why he said what he said. While many of Luther's words still seem harsh and divisive, they are at least a little more understandable when looked at in context. Further, Kittleson does what most biographers fail to do when writing about Luther: he really helps the reader understand what Luther's personality was like. Instead of presenting Luther as a disembodied intellect pumping out ideas, he gives information that helps us put together a picture of what Luther the person was really like.

The only complaints I have about this book are the brevity of his treatment of Luther's later life and his slight bias in favor of Luther. While I can tell that he is trying to be fair, he often ends up defending Luther's harsh comments and actions. While I do admire Luther, I have no problem admiting that Luther was wrong about some things, was far too harsh at times, and really was far more divisive than he needed to be. Kittleson seems to realize this, but always tries to defend Luther's words or actions by explaining that he was doing these things because he was so devoted to defending his conception of true doctrine. That may be, but does that really mean he was not wrong about some things? Lest you think that this book is merely a defense of Luther, it is really not so blatant as I am making it sound. In comparison to most Luther biographies written by a Lutheran, I imagine that it is very objective. Kittleson never explicitly says that Luther did no wrong, he just seemed to lightly imply it in many places. The mere fact that he actually presents the distasteful writings/actions of Luther in the book should speak volumes about his desire to be fair, and my complaint is really very minor.

Overall, this is definitely a recommended book. It seems to be THE place to start in learning about Luther, even above Bainton's excellent biography. I have obviously not read every Luther biography out there, or even a decent portion of them, but I would be very surprised if there were a better one than this which covers Luther's whole life.

Overall grade: A
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Overview 2 Jan. 2011
By Charles R. Wiese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Fortress Press sent me a review copy of Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career by James Kittelson. I am very impressed with this book. There are lots of biographies of Luther out there. I've read a few that focus on some particular theological aspect of Luther's writings. This book provides an easy to read history of Luther's life based on the some of the best research without forcing the reader to wade through all the scholarly opinions. I am by no means an expert on Martin Luther but from the works of Luther that I have read, Kittelson seems to be an honest interpreter. He doesn't seem to have any ax to grind or particular agenda. With someone as important and prolific as Luther, it's always easy to use quotes here and there to create the person in your own image. But Kittelson doesn't do that. He just tells the story of Luther's life accurately and honestly. For most of the quotations, Kittelson provides his own translations which are not filtered as they are in some other English translations. Luther's language can be more than a little jarring at times but it also shows how strongly Luther felt about the issues being debated. Luther would not fit in well at the modern ecumenical conferences. The book's goal seems to be to provide a portrait of Luther that Luther would recognize as being himself and I think it lives up to that standard. In around 300 pages the book gives an excellent of Luther's entire life and theology. My only gripe is with the sections dealing with private confession. If all you read was this book you might be led to think that Luther was completely opposed to private confession. Luther was opposed to the way it was conducted in the Roman church but continued the practice of private confession in an evangelical way.
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