Reformation of the Sixteenth Century Paperback – 1 Dec 1963
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Would that we had more history like this, so well-proportioned in its emphasis, and so pertinent to the understanding of history now in the making. --"The Annals" of the American Academy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Roland H. Bainton (1894-1984) was for forty-two years a professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale University, an author, a historian, and an ordained Congregational minister. During his long and distinguished academic career, he lectured across the United States and abroad and wrote more than thirty influential books on Christian history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Bainton covers all the major figures, movements, creeds, Papal Bulls, positions, assertions, and historical settings which occurred during the Reformation. Some detail is left our (for further research), but for a survey text on the Reformation, this is one of the best!
Bainton begins with Luther (who is the core source of the Reformation) in Germany and then expands out into other areas and People who help to promulgate the ideas of Luther. He discusses the various movements such as Calvinism, Lutheranism, the Anabaptists, etc. Bainton also discusses the political atmosphere of the Reformation and details the ideas of nobility and political figures within the Reformation who either hindered or aided the movement. Finally, Bainton discusses the economic situations of various areas, its effects and ramifications of the Reformation.
Overall, this is a wonderful survey text to wet the appetite of the reader regarding the Reformation. Bainton has very easy to read writing style and he keeps his audience's attention well. If you are interested in the Reformation and have yet to really dig deep into the issues, then this is a great place to start. If you are seasoned researcher of the Reformation, I still believe you will glean some wonderful gold nuggets of facts and information from this text.
Bainton describes the breach between Luther and Roman Catholicism. The major figures are Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Erasmus, Knox, and Cranmer. He utilizes compare and contrasts on doctrines and positions; such as, justification by faith, predestination, separation of church and state.
Carl L. Possehl
But because this book assumes some prior knowledge, I suggest first reading a few of his biographies, where he goes into greater depth: Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther [Illustrated], about the brilliant man of faith Martin Luther, and Erasmus of Christendom, about the peaceable Erasmus - who is, I suspect, one of Bainton's favourites - and Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Servetus, 1511-1553, about Michael Servetus, burned for disagreeing with Church doctrine. Then this comprehensive little book ties all the strands together.
I disagree with reviewers who say Professor Bainton has "a Lutheran slant". He speaks a lot about Luther because (a) he was an expert on Luther, and (b) Luther was pivotal in the Reformation. My understanding is that Bainton was a humanist, perhaps more of a Unitarian than anything. This may colour his presentation, but obviously not much if people perceive a Lutheran slant; Bainton clearly tries to present divergent views fairly and honestly, even when he disagrees.
One problem, perhaps because the information was not available when Bainton published (1952), is with his depiction of former British chancellor Sir Thomas More as "saintly" (p. 197). Historian Bryan Moynahan explained in God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible---A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal that Mr. More was something of a religious fanatic with grisly habits of persecution, who kept a tree in his garden to which he bound "heretics" so he could whip and torture them. This is no saint. Hopefully there are not too many such misjudgements in this book. But I reluctantly downgraded my rating from 5 to 4 stars due to this and the lack of footnotes (however the modern editor added a bibliography).
For stories of the English Reformation I recommend Moynahan's book, linked above, which is a popular history, and also David Daniell's more academic biography of Tyndale: William Tyndale: A Biography.
I highly recommend this book to anyone hoping to learn more about this important part of European (and Christian church) history. You will learn a lot, and the author's profound analysis is well worth the read.