Martin Luther: A Brief Introduction to His Life and Works

By Paul R. Waibel | Go to book overview

Bibliographical Note

The individual wishing to look further into the subject of Martin Luther is likely to be overwhelmed by the vast quantity of sources available. A quick search on the Internet reveals approximately 1,900 Web sites that offer varying degrees of information, for example, biographies, time lines, popular and scholarly articles, excerpts from Luther's works, etc. The beginner would probably do well to begin with a video or two, then read a good basic biography, and finally turn to books on areas of special interest.

The classic motion picture, Martin Luther (105 minutes), nominated for two academy awards in 1953, is available as a Vision Video from Gateway Films. It is based on Roland Bainton's classic biography, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1950). Another good starting point is the thirty-minute documentary, Where Luther Walked, also a Vision Video from Gateway Films. It is a walk through the historic sites associated with Martin Luther's life, narrated by Roland Bainton. There are two recent drama productions, Martin Luther: Heretic (BBC, seventy minutes), available from Family Films, and Martin Luther: Reluctant Revolutionary (PBS, 120 minutes), available from PBS. Finally, there is the recent motion picture, Luther (2003). A widely acclaimed German production, it stars Joseph Fiennes as Luther and Peter Ustinov as Frederick the Wise.

The quantity of printed sources available is even more daunting than the Internet Web sites. For the beginner, there are a few biographies that may serve as a starting point. Bibliographies and footnotes in these can provide useful guides to further, more specialized studies.

For biographies of Luther, the place to begin is, of course, Roland Bainton's Here I Stand. Although many Luther biographies have appeared since its first appearance in 1950, none have surpassed it as a basic introduction to the life and times of Martin Luther. Until his death in 1984, Bainton was the acknowledged dean of Reformation studies. His numerous books on the Reformation and its leaders are very readable and readily available in wellstocked libraries.

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