Martin Luther: Shaping and Defining the Reformation, 1521-1532

By Martin Brecht; James L. Schaaf | Go to book overview

Foreword

The overwhelmingly favorable reception enjoyed by my first book, Martin Luther: Sein Weg zur Reformation 1483–1521 (2d ed.; Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1983; ET: Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483–1521, trans. James L. Schaaf "Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985") has motivated me to present Luther's entire life in two additional volumes. Therefore the present volume is the second in the full biography, and the forthcoming third edition of the young Luther's life will bear a slightly different title: Martin Luther. Erster Band: Sein Weg zur Reformation 1483–1521 (Martin Luther. Volume 1: His Road to Reformation, 1483–1521).

The second volume picks up where the first ended and continues to the year 1532. Originally Heinrich Bornkamm wanted his book, Martin Luther in der Mitte seines Lebens (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979; ET: Martin Luther in Mid-career, trans. E. Theodore Bachmann "Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983"), to extend to that point, but his death forced the account to conclude with the events of 1530. The intention he had in mind has proved appropriate to the subject. The subtitle of this volume, "Shaping and Defining the Reformation," indicates the two characteristic elements of the actual organization of the Reformation that occur during this period of time. These two elements do not take place in chronological sequence, however, but instead usually happen simultaneously and interrelatedly.

I have been asked whether I wish to present a particular image of Luther. This is connected with the justified question of whether there is a need for a further description of the same period of Luther's life covered in Bornkamm's partial biography. It is obvious that a complete presentation cannot omit this period. Even a glance at the table of contents will show that I have pursued a different course in my basic arrangement of the material than did Bornkamm. Moreover, its general tenor shows that there is no denying that we belong to different generations. In addition, again and again I have felt compelled to accent different things in my selection and evaluation of the sources. A complete biography obviously differs from the portions treated and the positions expressed in individual studies in an anthology such as that edited by Helmar Junghans, Leben und Werk Martin Luthers vom 1526 bis 1546 (Martin Luther's life and work from 1526 to 1546) (2 vols.; Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, and Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,

-xi-

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