- 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: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century 2nd,Revised & enlarged Edition
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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.
Top customer reviews
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). Historian Bryan Moynahan explained in God's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible---A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal that Mr. More was something of a religious fanatic with grisly habits of persecution, who kept a tree in his garden to which he bound "heretics" so he could whip and torture them. This is no saint. Hopefully there are not too many such misjudgements in this book. But I reluctantly downgraded my rating from 5 to 4 stars due to this and the lack of footnotes (however the modern editor added a bibliography).
For stories of the English Reformation I recommend Moynahan's book, linked above, which is a popular history, and also David Daniell's more academic biography of Tyndale: William Tyndale: A Biography.
I'm going to chime in here and say that it did srike me as though he wrote with a pro-Lutheran slant, and I particularly noticed an anti-calvinist slant. I don't have some chip on my shoulder needing to defend Calvin for any of his or his followers' faults, but it was really obvious reading through the book that Bainton didn't have much good to say about Calvin, but plenty in favor of Luther.
In all Bainton will give a great introduction to the basic facts of the Reformation, including an analysis of social, economic, and national issues, and how they interplayed with the key figures and teachings of the Reformation. I recommend it.