cover image Martin Luther: Rebel in an Age of Upheaval

Martin Luther: Rebel in an Age of Upheaval

Heinz Schilling, trans. from the German by Rona Johnston Gordon. Oxford, $39.95 (576p) ISBN SBN 978-0-19-872281-6

Schilling, former professor of early modern history at Humboldt University in Berlin, makes an essential entry into the field of titles to come out in honor of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Beautifully translated by Johnston Gordon, this massive biography roughly follows the arc of Luther’s life, but it eschews many personal details to focus on theology and politics. Schilling sets Luther and his actions in a broader framework than Lyndal Roper’s equally magisterial biography, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (Reviews, Jan. 6), which is a more personal biography. Schilling instead focuses on Luther’s writings and interactions with those around him, including Charles V, who tried to call Luther to account at Worms; the rulers of Electoral Saxony, who protected Luther; Philip of Hesse, who demanded Luther sanction a bigamous marriage; and coworkers in the Reformation such as Philipp Melanchthon. Schilling allows himself wide range to comment on the perturbations caused by Luther’s determination to reform church practice (as well as on the reformer himself). Schilling’s most impressive accomplishment in this detailed biography is his portrait of how Luther placed the personal, and even the psychological, into the Christian religion in a completely new way. (July)