The Reformation: A Brief History

The Reformation: A Brief History

The Reformation: A Brief History

The Reformation: A Brief History

Synopsis

The Reformation: A Brief History is a succinct and engaging introduction to the origins and history of the Protestant Reformation.
  • A rich overview of the Reformation, skillfully blending social, political, religious and theological dimensions
  • A clearly and engagingly written narrative which draws on the latest and best scholarship
  • Includes the history of the Reformation in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, areas that are rarely covered in any detail
  • The Reformation is placed in the context of the entire history of Christianity to draw out its origins, impetus, and legacy

Excerpt

Writing a “brief history of the Reformation” poses several challenges. The greatest of these comes with the word “brief”—a deterrent to most any historian. The following book does, however, aim at brevity. It accomplishes that by making a number of sacrifices, and some readers will notice these. Certain subjects are missing; editorial decisions precluded treating the Reformation in Britain, for example. Other regions have received less attention than they deserve—particularly those to the south and east of the Holy Roman Empire. And while the book’s methods are eclectic, drawing on several disciplines and approaches, some readers may lament the relatively scant attention to academic theology. That, too, comes as a result of a conscious decision. (Disappointed readers are welcome to read this author’s other works.)

Virtually any of the book’s topics could be treated at much greater length. But most of them already have been. Herein lies not only a challenge, but also an attraction to writing a survey work. One needs to absorb vast amounts of material—but one also has the chance to take a step back and to craft an overarching narrative. For students of the Reformation, now may be an ideal moment to do that. We have seen old “grand narratives” displaced and partly discredited; we have witnessed a generation’s worth of attention to “micro-histories”; and we have absorbed lessons from an unexpected variety of sources and angles, changing forever . . .

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