9780143035381 / 014303538X

The Reformation


Publisher:Penguin Books



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About the book:

As a historical document Diarmaid MacCulloch's 750-page narrative Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 has all the key ingredients. MacCulloch, a professor of history as the Church of Oxford University, is an articulate and vibrant writer with a strong guiding intelligence. The structure is sensible, starting with the main characters who influenced reforms, then spreads out to the regional concerns and social intellectual themes of the era. He even fast forwards into American Christianity--showing how this historical era influences modern times.

MacCulloch has written what is widely considered to be the authoritative account of the Reformation--a critical juncture in the history of Christianity. "It is impossible to understand modern Europe without understanding these 16th-century upheavals in Latin Christianity" he writes. "They represented the greatest fault line to appear in Christian culture since the Latin and Greek halves of the Roman Empire went their separate ways a thousand years before; they produced a house divided." The resulting split between the Catholics and Protestants still divides Christians throughout the Western world. It affects interpretations of the Bible, beliefs about baptisms, and event how much authority is given to religious leaders. The division even fuels an ongoing war. What makes MacCulloch's account rise above previous attempts to interpret the Reformation is the breadth of his research. Rather than limit his narrative to the actions of key theologians and leaders of the era--Luther, Zingli, Calvin, Loyola, Cranmer, Henry VIII and numerous popes--MacCulloch sweeps his narrative across the culture, politics and lay people of Renaissance Western Europe. This broad brush approach touches upon many fascinating discussions surrounding the Reformation, including his belief that the Latin Church was probably not as "corrupt and ineffective" as Protestants tend to portray it. In fact, he asserts that it "generally satisfied the spiritual needs of the late medieval people."

MacCulloch is a top-notch historian--he uncovers material and theories that will seem fresh and inspired to Reformation scholars as well as lay readers. --Gail Hudson,

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