Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Resilient Reformer: The Life and Thought of Martin Luther

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Resilient Reformer: The Life and Thought of Martin Luther

Article excerpt

Resilient Reformer: The Life and Thought of Martin Luther. By Timothy Lull and Derek R. Nelson. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015, Pp. xxix, 410. $44.00, paper.)

The Resilient Reformer is a new biography of Luther, written in partial anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The book is a hybrid of the work of the late Luther scholar Timothy Lull (who died suddenly in 2003) and his research assistant Derek Nelson, now a professor at Wabash College. Although the Resilient Reformer does not add many new insights to an already-crowded field of Luther research, it nevertheless represents a highly readable compendium of the most current research on the reformer.

The book begins with the familiar narrative of Luther's origins. Luther's background as the son of an upwardly mobile miner in Mansfeld and Eisleben is explored in detail. Through working in the mines, Luther's father was able to scrap together enough money to send him to Latin school and prepare him for a university education. Luther excelled in his education, and eventually attended Erfurt University. At Erfurt, Luther was increasingly troubled about his relationship with God. After being caught in a storm, Luther made a vow to St. Anne that if he survived he would enter a monastery instead of attending law school as his parents had intended.

At this point, Lull and Nelson deviate from the many of the older standard Luther bibliographies by giving a somewhat different account of Luther's activities within the monastery. Whereas more traditional biographies emphasize Luther's psychological suffering, Lull and Nelson tend to focus on the progress of Luther's personal and professional development. This shift of emphasis reflects newer reformation scholarship, which has increasingly seen Luther's later account of his monastic struggles as being a true, yet incomplete picture of his early life. Indeed, Luther accomplished much during his time in the Augustinián order. While he was indeed bothered by guilt, it by no means paralyzed him in the manner seemingly implied by older biographies.

This biography also breaks with traditional accounts of Luther by the absence of the "reformation breakthrough. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.