A Short Life of Martin Luther

Thomas Kaufmann, trans. from the German by Peter D.S. Krey and James D. Bratt. Eerdmans, $18 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7153-4
Timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, which ushered in the Protestant Reformation, Kaufmann’s short, incisive biography of Luther focuses on the theological import of his subject’s life. Kaufmann conveys the core of Luther’s theology, rooted in the scholar-monk’s conviction of the primacy of scripture over Roman Catholic theological tradition and his unwavering belief that salvation came through grace of God alone, not through works. His sketch of Luther’s life is brief, but Kaufmann does not shy away from controversial topics such as Luther’s anti-Semitism and his harsh reaction to the German Peasants’ War, which alienated him from many of the common people who were once his staunch supporters. Kaufmann, having taken on a daunting task, expertly cuts to the heart of Luther’s thought, illustrating how his religious and intellectual consistency after 1517 drove his life decisions. The book, written in a tone of high seriousness, is impressively clear, providing insights into the mind of a complicated individual. For those who want more, Kaufmann offers a reprint of the 95 theses as well as reading lists on both Luther’s life and the Reformation. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
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