The Revolt of Martin Luther

By Robert Herndon Fife | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

THE appearance of a new life of Martin Luther needs no apology in spite of the number of previous efforts in this field -- itself evidence of an enduring interest in one of the most remarkable figures in human history. Now, more than four hundred years after his death, Luther is still a problem for the theologian and an inviting theme for the student of profane history.

Although many causes and personalities contributed their share to the development of the Reformation, it was Luther who set it in motion and gave it its peculiar character.

The present writer is no theologian. His interest in Luther dates from school-boy years and was planted in a home whose religious traditions had their roots in Scotland. In unwavering memory he recalls with gratitude the Virginia parents to whom he owes his early knowledge of Luther.

For the earliest suggestion that he put into print his ideas of Luther's character and development, the author was indebted to the late Archbishop SÉ`derblom, former Primate of Sweden, at whose recommendation the Olaus Petri Foundation invited him to deliver at Uppsala University a course of lectures on Luther's early religious development. These lectures were published as Young Luther ( New York: Macmillan Company, 1928).

The scope of the present work is limited to the development of Luther from his earliest years to the point where his stand before the Diet at Worms marked his final break with the Church of Rome. Much source material and many investigations by scholars have appeared to throw light on this development. Obviously no attempt could be made to take into account or evaluate all that has been published since older writers like Oergel, BÖhmer, MÖller, Grisar, and Scheel traversed various phases of the field of Luther research. The reader's attention is called particularly to the extensive bibliography in Roland Bainton Here I Stand ( New York: Abingdon Cokesbury Press, 1950) and to Josef KÖ`rner Bibliographisches Handbuch des deutschen Schrifttums ( Bern: A.Francke, 3d ed., 1949).

Although it is manifestly impossible to comment on the many titles

-vii-

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