Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Martin Luther: A Life

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Martin Luther: A Life

Article excerpt

Martin Luther: A Life. By James A. Nestingen. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 2003. 112 pp. $9.99 (cloth).

Martin Luther: A Life is a concise yet easily readable biography of Luther that was published in conjunction with the recent movie on Luther released in the fall of 2003. The book includes some photos from the movie.

Nestingen, a Luther scholar who teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, provides us with an incisive overview of Luther's life and the major issues that shaped his life and world. In the first chapter, Nestingen covers the early life of Luther, culminating in his "conversion experience" and the subsequent entrance into the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, his trip to Rome, and his appointment to the faculty of theology at Wittenberg.

In the second and third chapters, Nestingen deals with the timing of the "reformation breakthrough" and the igniting of what he calls the "revolution." The author examines Luther's early lectures on the Bible, as well as the gradual piecing together of his "reformation" theology in his famous "95 Theses" and his great theological treatise, "The Heidelberg Disputation." We are also introduced to Melanchthon, who would become Luther's closest colleague and a counterbalance to him. Nestingen's description of the theological climate and the "theological rabies" of theologians is especially descriptive. The vehemence with which theologians would attack each other is often overlooked in such general biographies.

In the fourth and fifth chapters, Nestingen addresses the development of Luther's thought as the conflict became more public. The seminal treatises of 1520, including the "Babylonian Captivity of the Church," "The Freedom of a Christian," and "To the German Nobility," are accorded solid overviews. …

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