cover image Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World

Eric Metaxas. Viking, $30 (496p) ISBN 978-1-101-98001-9

This is a highly readable, fast-paced biography of Luther with some peculiar omissions. Metaxas follows a fairly basic chronological path, starting with Luther’s childhood and ending with his death. While Metaxas ostentatiously announces his work as going “beyond the [Luther] myth”, there seems to be little new here, and Metaxas’s claims to originality are mostly backed by his commentary on the work of previous historians (particularly Erik Erikson) rather than by his own new interpretations of historical material. Metaxas admirably sets the scene for the later convulsions within the church now known as the Protestant Reformation: Luther’s rise to prominence in Wittenberg, Germany; his disillusionment with the church; the posting of his theses; the Leipzig debate; and the Diet of Worms. But the book also notably downplays some of the more contentious aspects of Luther’s work, including his diatribes against Jews, which are given fewer than 10 pages, and Luther’s council to Philip of Hesse regarding his bigamous marriage, which isn’t mentioned at all. These blank spaces make it difficult to see Metaxas’s work as a critical evaluation of Luther and render this volume of doubtful use to scholars. General readers may enjoy the cheerful tone of Metaxas’s writing. (Oct.)