Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet

Methode-times-prod-web-bin-3d870712-2286-11e6-8644-041f71209e1fPeter Marshall at Literary Review:

Get ready to start hearing a lot about Martin Luther. On 31 October 2017 it will be five hundred years since Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, initiating the Protestant Reformation. In fact, as scholars have long known, and Lyndal Roper immediately concedes, whether Luther ever actually posted the Theses in this way is doubtful. But there is no doubting the momentous consequences of the confrontation with the Papacy sparked by Luther’s disquiet over the theology of indulgences. In Britain interest in the anniversary has so far been relatively muted – a contrast with Germany, where an entire decade of official commemorative events is accelerating towards its climax. But Luther undoubtedly belongs to that relatively select company of eminent dead foreigners of whom nearly all British people have heard, and he enjoys the reputation of being a force for historical good: a prophet of individual conscience and liberty against oppressive structures of power and inherited patterns of thinking.

Roper’s beautifully written life is not exactly an exercise in debunking, but she admits that Luther is a ‘difficult hero’. Her publishers’ claim that the book represents the first historical biography ‘for many decades’ is hyperbolic chutzpah, but it is certainly among the most interesting, provocative and original biographies of Luther to appear in recent years – one that tackles head on the challenge of entering into and exploring the interior life of its subject.

more here.