The Reformation

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his famous, or infamous, “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Soon there was a European wide movement that could not be controlled, and which had a profound effect on the shape of the modern world and the Church and Christian worship and witness, in Europe and around the world. Perhaps needless to say, but I will anyway, there has been publishing bonanza of new books on the Reformation beginning more than 10 years ago. Below are some newer and older works which I have found helpful and interesting. I’ve left out the English Reformation, and focused on continental Europe where we will be touring this year (2017) an on three main traditions—Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist. There are many, many more that could be added to the list, but one has to stop somewhere.

Some introductory texts—all very accessible, short even, and engagingly written.

Collinson, Patrick. The Reformation, A History. New York: Modern Library, 2003. Brief. Still very much up-to-date, by one of the premier historians of Protestantism in England.

Dickens, A. G. Reformation and Society in Sixteenth Century Europe. London: Thames and Hudson, 1977 (originally 1966). Older, but still a favorite, lively and lots of pictures in an age that developed the cartoon.

Klassen, Peter J. Europe in the Reformation. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1979. Professor Klassen was Dean of Social Sciences at Fresno State for many years, as well as a member of the Board (and Board Chair) of FPU, and my undergraduate mentor. A highly regarded introduction.

Marshall, Peter. The Reformation, a Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. One of the more recent and a very good introduction.

Some larger and more expansive volumes, newer and older, as well as topical and biographical.  

Bagchi, David, and David C. Steinmetz, Eds. The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Bainton, Roland. Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther. Abingdon, 2013. A classic originally published in 1950. Superseded in many ways, but still worth reading for the drama.

Benedict, Philip. Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. The formation of the Reformed tradition through the 17th century.

Bossy, John. Christianity in the West, 1400-1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Bouwsma, William, J. John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Notable for Bouwsma’s thesis that the Reformed and Calvin sought to provide order in a 16th century fraught with anxiety. Bouwsma is a scholar of the Renaissance, rather than religion or theology per se, and offers insights from a very different perspective.

Cameron, Euan. The European Reformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Topical more than chronological. A different way to slice the cake. Very helpful.

Chadwick, Owen. The Reformation. Revised Ed. New York: Penguin, 1990. Originally published in the 1960s, but still useful.

Dickens, A. G. The Counter Reformation. London: Thames and Hudson, 1977. Originally published in 1968, on the Catholic Reformation, a companion to his Reformation and Society listed above.

Douglass, Jane Dempsey. Women, Freedom, and Calvin. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985.

Eire, Carlos M. N. Reformations, The Early Modern World, 1450-1650. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. A comprehensive study—920 pages!

Estep, William R. The Anabaptist Story. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963, 1975. Emphasizes continuity between Anabaptists/Mennonites and Baptists.

Evennett, H. O. The Spirit of the Counter Reformation. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1970.

Friesen, Abraham. Erasmus, the Anabaptists, and the Great Commission. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Gordon, Bruce. Calvin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. There are a number of good (and a number of bad) biographies of Calvin. This is one of the most recent (good ones).

Greengrass, Mark. Christendom Destroyed, Europe, 1571-1648. New York: Penguin, 2015. Greengrass is a specialist in the French Reformation which brings a slightly different emphasis to his story.

Gregory, Brad S. The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. Picks up the larger theoretical questions about what the Reformation released for good and ill.

Hendrix, Scott H. Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

Hendrix, Scott H. Martin Luther, A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. And also his Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.

Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Division of Christendom, Christianity in the Sixteenth Century. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007. Hillerbrand is a Reformation Industry in himself, having edited both The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (4 Vols), and The Encyclopedia of Protestantism (4 Vols) while remaining an engaging writer.

Huizinga, Johann. Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. New York: Harper and Row, 1957. Originally published in 1924. A classic.

Lindberg, Carter. The European Reformations. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. A good place to see the different reformations of the 16th century.

MacCulloch, Diarmaid. The Reformation. New York: Penguin, 2005. Current and thoughtful.

Matheson, Peter. The Imaginative World of the Reformation. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.

McGrath, Alister E. Reformation Thought: An Introduction. Now in its 4th edition. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2012. McGrath is prolific not only in Reformation topics, but in the history of theology, and theology and science.

Oberman, Heiko A. Luther: Between Man and the Devil. New York: Doubleday, Image, 1992. Oberman was one of the leading scholars of the Reformation in the last half of the 20th century who reoriented Reformation studies toward “the Reformation in Medieval Perspective.” His work shaped the work of many of the authors on this list. Much of his work is technical, but his ideas are accessible here, and influential in the work of his students: Ozment, Hendrix, Steinmetz, and one of my mentors, Jane Douglass.

Ozment, Steven. The Age of Reform, 1250-1550. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980. This book developed out of lectures at Yale and Harvard. See also his Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Ozment, Steven. The Serpent and the Lamb: Cranach, Luther and the Making of the Reformation. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Pettegree, Andrew. Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe—and Started the Protestant Reformation. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Snyder, C. Arnold. Anabaptist History and Theology: An Introduction. Kitchener: Pandora, 1995.

Steinmetz, David. Reformers in the Wings. 2nd Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Good chapters on lesser known early reformed leaders and theologians.

Trueman, Carl R. Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom. Crossway: 2015.

Williams, George H. The Radical Reformation. Third Ed. Truman State University, 2000. First edition, 1962