The name Martin Luther evokes many reactions. Known primarily as the initiator of the Protestant Reformation in Europe in the sixteenth century, Luther through the centuries has had his advocates and detractors. But his influence has been immense. The essays that follow display the far-reaching importance of his words and deeds as well as the significance of Luther's life and thought—an impact that continues today.
This Companion is written to introduce the life and work of Martin Luther (1483–1546). All the writers are experts on the aspects of Luther on which they write. Scholars will mine much from this treasury but beginning students even more.
The two openingessays in the collection set Luther's life and context in terms of the main events he experienced and the city where he spent most of his time. These elements are important for becoming acquainted with Luther's struggles, triumphs, joys, and sorrows.
Luther's wide-ranging work is considered in Part II of this book. Here we encounter the vastness of his writings and work in translating and interpreting Holy Scripture. We consider the main themes in his developing theology, a theology that took shape in light of the issues with which Luther dealt. Luther's views on theological topics had their counterparts in his moral theology or ethics. He spent his life as a professor and preacher who proclaimed the Word of God, undergirded by the spiritual resources of his understandings of Scripture and his own religious experience. Luther's struggle with social-ethical issues emerged as he encountered the concerns of his culture and the church. His responses took shape in the political contexts of his setting in Germany. In establishing the reform movement that became associated with Luther's name, he found himself engaged in numerous polemical controversies in which he sought to set forth his understanding of the Word and will of God in light of opponents who were equally vehement.
Those who followed Luther and built on his views appropriated his work in various ways. The essays in Part III describe ways in which Luther's image and insights were developed by his followers and the legacy that his