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The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century 2nd,Revised & enlarged Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807013014
ISBN-10: 0807013013
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Editorial Reviews


Would that we had more history like this, so well-proportioned in its emphasis, and so pertinent to the understanding of history now in the making. --The Annals of the American Academy

About the Author

Roland H. Bainton (1894-1984) was for forty-two years a professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale University, an author, a historian, and an ordained Congregational minister. During his long and distinguished academic career, he lectured across the United States and abroad and wrote more than thirty influential books on Christian history.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 2nd,Revised & enlarged edition (September 30, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807013013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807013014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By T. B. Vick on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
As is the case with almost all of Bainton's books, this book is very well written, easy to follow, and contains a good amount of historical facts and evidence. This text is very well researched, just take a look at the bibliography. However, the reader should keep in mind that this is a type of survey text, not a text with a specific target topic in mind within the Reformation; though Bainton does detail several key elements which he believes helped to shape the overall movement in Europe. Moreover, the Forward (by Jaroslav Pelikan) itself is worth the price of the book.
Bainton covers all the major figures, movements, creeds, Papal Bulls, positions, assertions, and historical settings which occurred during the Reformation. Some detail is left our (for further research), but for a survey text on the Reformation, this is one of the best!
Bainton begins with Luther (who is the core source of the Reformation) in Germany and then expands out into other areas and People who help to promulgate the ideas of Luther. He discusses the various movements such as Calvinism, Lutheranism, the Anabaptists, etc. Bainton also discusses the political atmosphere of the Reformation and details the ideas of nobility and political figures within the Reformation who either hindered or aided the movement. Finally, Bainton discusses the economic situations of various areas, its effects and ramifications of the Reformation.
Overall, this is a wonderful survey text to wet the appetite of the reader regarding the Reformation. Bainton has very easy to read writing style and he keeps his audience's attention well. If you are interested in the Reformation and have yet to really dig deep into the issues, then this is a great place to start. If you are seasoned researcher of the Reformation, I still believe you will glean some wonderful gold nuggets of facts and information from this text.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an example of what the fruits of scholarship should yield: careful, concise, clear, simple but uncompromised prose, moving from insight to insight, nothing gratuitous. If only such a book were available for every period in cultural history. Bainton renders the phenomena surrounding the Reformation so lucidly; really, in its own careful way, a small masterpiece.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Carl L. Possehl on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
A very boiled down book with unique vocabulary showing the interaction between the Roman Catholics, Luther, Calvin and the Anabaptists in the 16th Century and the impact on political, economic and family life.
Bainton describes the breach between Luther and Roman Catholicism. The major figures are Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Erasmus, Knox, and Cranmer. He utilizes compare and contrasts on doctrines and positions; such as, justification by faith, predestination, separation of church and state.
Carl L. Possehl
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Whitestone on October 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Professor Bainton knows how to relay a sweeping grasp of history in an intelligent and readable way. His purpose with this book was to provide a good synthesis of Reformation times. He succeeded. As such, it is a valuable resource.

But because this book assumes some prior knowledge, I suggest first reading a few of his biographies, where he goes into greater depth: Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther [Illustrated], about the brilliant man of faith Martin Luther, and Erasmus of Christendom, about the peaceable Erasmus - who is, I suspect, one of Bainton's favourites - and Hunted Heretic: The Life and Death of Michael Servetus, 1511-1553, about Michael Servetus, burned for disagreeing with Church doctrine. Then this comprehensive little book ties all the strands together.

I disagree with reviewers who say Professor Bainton has "a Lutheran slant". He speaks a lot about Luther because (a) he was an expert on Luther, and (b) Luther was pivotal in the Reformation. My understanding is that Bainton was a humanist, perhaps more of a Unitarian than anything. This may colour his presentation, but obviously not much if people perceive a Lutheran slant; Bainton clearly tries to present divergent views fairly and honestly, even when he disagrees.

One problem, perhaps because the information was not available when Bainton published (1952), is with his depiction of former British chancellor Sir Thomas More as "saintly" (p. 197).
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Keating on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
First, I must admit that I like history, but I am not very familiar with the reformation. Having said that, I think Roland Bainton's book is an excellent introduction to the topic. It is very well written, well researched, and well presented. I was duly impressed with the author's ability to tell the story of what happened - the key discussions, decisions, participants, etc. without boring the reader. You can tell that Dr. Bainton possesses a deep understanding of this era.
I highly recommend this book to anyone hoping to learn more about this important part of European (and Christian church) history. You will learn a lot, and the author's profound analysis is well worth the read.
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