- Hardcover: 308 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (27 May 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415261678
- ISBN-13: 978-0415261678
- Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.4 x 2.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,789,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Martin Luther (Routledge Historical Biographies) Hardcover – 27 May 2004
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'Attractively-written, wise and judicious, with touches of engaging wit. It is now the best introduction to Luther in English.' - Diarmaid MacCulloch, University of Oxford
'Author and publisher are to be congratulated on producing an immensely readable, beautifully designed, introduction to the life and thought of one of church histoey's more complex and controversial characters ...' - Reviews in Religion and Theology
About the Author
Michael Mullet is Professor of Cultural and Religious History at the University of Lancaster, where he currently teaches courses on Popular Culture and Protest, Jewish History, and Luther, as well as postgraduate teaching and supervision, especially in religious history. His most recent published work has focussed on Catholic history in the Reformation and post-Reformation periods.
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The notion of the Protestant Reformation as a milestone in the history of human freedom goes back in fact to the Reformation itself, when the first Protestant reformers acclaimed their own acts of liberation from the medieval Church's alleged tyranny. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Adopting a mainly chronological framework, Mullett's prose is fluent and his ability to boil down complex theological ideas to their fundamentals makes this an ideal companion as much for the general reader as the historian. This is a compelling story of a man who stood tall against the monolithic Catholic Church, and who defied a young powerful Holy Roman Emperor in Charles V, dying in old age in 1546. By this stage the Church was irrevocably split in two, the Protestant religion had been founded (though that had never been Luther's intention) and it too had already split into several denominations, many of which are still with us today. Luther had alienated the Humanists, other reformers, the Catholic Church, and held controversial views on the Jews, but nevertheless he is still looked on with reverence and mystique. Mullett's simplicity and commonsense does much to penetrate the 'myth' of Luther.
For anyone interested in religious history, or even the general reader who wants to find out about one of the towering figures of European history, Mullett's book is a good starting-point. Warmly recommended, and at a reasonable price too !
While Mullet acknowledges the repugnant nature of many of the opinions held by Luther, especially those published late in his life, he is broadly sympathetic. His view of Luther is essentially as a reforming Catholic and socially conservative townsman. Comparatively little time is spent dealing with the other strands of protestantism and their more radical agendas, creating a risk of an unbalanced appreciation of the extent of Luther's unintended achievements.
The book is thankfully free of theological jargon. Stylistically the writing is straightforward and easy to understand, if sometimes clumsy - increasingly chapters start by introducing their intentions ("In this chapter we ..."). The Introduction, which can be sampled from the Amazon webpage, is the most elegantly written part of the book.
The book is part of a series which the publishers intend (according to the blurb on the back of the book) to be "concise and accessible". Mullett succeeds on both counts.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Over the course of ten chapters and 264 pages (not including the notes and references), Professor Mullett takes us on a journey on Martin Luther and his life, his family, his colleagues, and his opponents. There is no doubt in most people's minds that Luther was a champion of religious liberty, although there are some who still anathematize him to this day for humiliating the Papacy over its abuses and excesses back in the 16th century. Many people credit him for shaking off the yoke of Rome for doing so. He could also be a brilliant expositor of the Word of God and preach with unparalleled authority even amongst his contemporaries in Germany. At the same time, to be fair about Luther's character, even Luther's most ardent admirers have to take off their rose-colored glasses and admit that his failures could sharply contrast his successes. His conflict with Philip Melanchthon with regards to dealing (and possibly reconciling) with the Papacy was clearly evident, even in that day and age. On top of that, one of his later works, The Jews and Their Lies, could either be said that it was a product of his times or dismiss him as highly anti-Semitic because of his incredibly ribald invectives that he directed against them. Either way, when one reads this book and has a clear understanding of the Gospel, it is easy to point out that Luther, while saved by the Grace of God, clearly still had to deal with the old man sin nature. Professor Mullett does make mention of this (simul justus et peccator) near the end of the book.
What is most fascinating in this book is the concluding chapter. Professor Mullett describes how, in the years after Luther's life, people of different religious and political persuasions have used Luther's life to justify their positions and theories. As a strange ironic twist, Friedrich Engels even cited Luther and his ideals as a means to justify his Marxist bent! In my opinion, based on what this reviewer has read and known about him, had Luther lived long enough to witness the rise of Marxism, there is no way that Luther would have approved of this.
Since the book was written by an academic, it may bore the average layman. However, it is suitable to read for those who are advancing their education. It is certainly worth recommending to seminary students, regardless of their religious persuasion. Even if Professor Mullett was a secular humanist at the time of publication, he was completely objective with the subject matter and displayed little (if any) malice and prejudice against Martin Luther. For those who already have a sizable knowledge of Martin Luther, you may not learn much of anything new about him. However, for those who may have some gaps or possible prejudices and assumptions about Luther, this book will serve to fill those holes.
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