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The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Peter Marshall
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Oct 2009 Very Short Introductions
The Reformation transformed Europe, and left an indelible mark on the modern world. It began as an argument about what Christians needed to do to be saved, but rapidly engulfed society in a series of fundamental changes. This Very Short Introduction provides a lively and up-to-date guide to the process. It explains doctrinal debates in a clear and non-technical way, but is equally concerned to demonstrate the effects the Reformation had on politics, society, art, and minorities.

Peter Marshall argues that the Reformation was not a solely European phenomenon, but that varieties of faith exported from Europe transformed Christianity into a truly world religion. The complex legacy of the Reformation is also assessed; its religious fervour produced remarkable stories of sanctity and heroism, and some extraordinary artistic achievements, but violence, holy war, and martyrdom were equally its products. A paradox of the Reformation - that it intensified intolerance while establishing pluralism - is one we still wrestle with today.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Martin Luther: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + Reformation : Europe's House Divided 1490-1700
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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (22 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199231311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199231317
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 11.4 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Besser kann man es nicht machen [it couldn't be done better] (Peter Blickle, Historische Zeitschrift)

It has hardly ever been told better (Alec Ryrie, English Historical Review)

This is history as it should be written: meticulous, provocative and intelligent. By studying the past for its own sake, and on its own terms, it also illuminates the present and the future (William Whyte, Church Times)

About the Author

Peter Marshall is a Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies in History at the University of Warwick. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the AHRC Peer Review College. He is an Associate Editor for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and is a Series Editor for the monograph series Religious Cultures in the Early Modern World.

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Customer Reviews

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
The Reformation is one of the pivotal moments in all of World History, and not just history of Religion. It encompassed almost all of the Christendom, and its ramifications had been felt far beyond it. Most Christians today live in the palpable shadow of Reformation, and yet very few are completely aware of its extent and history. Although the full history is probably beyond any single book's reach, this very short introduction provides us with an excellent and informative overview. One of the things that I like the most about this book is the fact that it doesn't treat reformation in vacuum, but it rather puts it in context of other political and religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. It also doesn't make the (protestant) reformation as much of a discontinuity as most people have come to think of it over the past few centuries, but it rather points out many points of contact and continuity within and without the Catholic Church in late Middle Ages. In fact, there is such a thing as Catholic reformation and this book dedicates a considerable amount of space to it. The book shuns two extreme views of reformation - as a completely societal development and as a purely religious one. It acknowledges the great importance that religion had in people's lives at the time, which can be very counterintuitive to many people today, but it also doesn't downplay the purely secular considerations as well. In fact, the distinction between the two would have been very hard to grasp for people at that time. The book also talks about the major figures of Protestant Reformation - Luther, Calvin and Zwingli - and discusses the contributions that each one of them made. The timeframe that this book covers is approximately that of late 15th century until the early 18th. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb summary 8 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book by Peter Marshall, in the excellent OUP Short Introduction series, is superb. The Reformation can be a broad, diffuse and often contentious subject and Marshall handles its various elements very clearly and fairly. He takes no particular partisan stance and this will make the book equally acceptable to Protestant and Catholic alike. He accepts that although dating the start of the Reformation is fairly easy with Luther and a few notable predecessors, deciding when it ended is more of an issue. Marshall takes us through the causes and development of the Reformation's various stages from the church-reforming 'blunt instrument' of Luther to the 'sniper-rifle' precision theology of Calvin. He explains the disagreements between Lutherans and Calvinists and how they each influenced the history of Europe in different ways, not least in the Catholic Counter-Reformation that they unleashed. He traces the impact of the reformed churches and their interactions with the state, and summarises this well at the end. Marshall also examines specific themes relating to the Reformation and its world-view on things: art, theatre, music, witchcraft and others. He makes the link between how what was produced by the Reformation interlinked with the development of the Enlightenment, a more secularly driven movement, and his series of paradoxes at the end of the book may bring a wry smile too. Not all movements achieve quite what they set out to. This is a brilliant survey of the Reformation and one of the very best of the Short Introduction series.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth 5+ stars .... 30 Jan 2010
Refreshingly clear and balanced, insightful, precise and comprehensive, witty - excellent! In fact, I would say this little book is the best introduction to the 'Reformation' that I have read to date. (Perhaps not as strong in the theological section as the other sections in the book.)
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