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Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Hendrickson Classic Biographies) Hardcover – April 1, 2009
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About the Author
A specialist in Reformation history, Roland H. Bainton was for forty-two years Titus Street Professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale, and he continued his writing well into his twenty years of retirement. Bainton wore his scholarship lightly and had a lively, readable style. His most popular book was Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950)--which sold more than a million copies. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German monk, priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer, whose teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines and culture of the Lutheran and Protestant traditions.
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It explains why Lutherans do some of the things that they do, and why they don't do some of the things that they don't. I don't want to spoil anything, but I didn't expect Martin Luther to have a sense of humor. Many surprises in this book. I would like to tell one or two, but again, no spoilers. The doctrine-and-dogma section that takes up a few chapters after the middle of the book is hard to read (not as hard as Krishnamurti), but the action picks back up after that. The author's vocabulary was frequently above my head, and I am long-educated. Notice I did not say well-educated.
The book suggests other works to read. Apparently many of Luther's sermons are accessible. Considering that the author died in his 90's, a third of a century ago, this book holds up well. My pastors tell me that this is the popular Luther biography and an easy read compared to others. What others, I don't know. I accidentally bought the book on paper. It was 400 pages, not including the extensive bibliography. It has 22 chapters, with many black-and-white illustrations. 400 divided by 22 is 18, and by golly, the chapters are all close to 18 pages.
I have a copy of the 95 Theses printed on both sides of an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. I used it as a bookmark. Good idea!
Shakespeare wrote "some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them" ... and then there is Martin Luther.
This book definitely had a more religious reader in mind, and it does delve decently into Luther's theology. While Bainton does an excellent job highlighting major themes and even quoting Luther throughout the book, he does not provide adequate citation (at least for scholarly purposes, as several times I wanted to look up quotes or excerpts in their broader context).
But for the purposes of introducing one to an overview of Luther's life, helping situate his works within the context of that life, and assisting in grasping the overarching man that Luther was, it does a solid job. The reading was not always easy, though there were sections which I found myself reading more quickly through than others...there were times I struggled not to doze off as I read. A solid biography and does a good job with its subject, albeit a bit of a slog at times.