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The Roots of the Reformation: Tradition, Emergence and Rupture Paperback – March 22, 2012

2.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Briskly and breezily, but very efficiently, medievalist Gillian Evans here surveys Western Europe's changing and clashing views of Christianity from the fourteenth century through the seventeenth century. This large-scale introduction is certainly the best of its kind currently available." (J. I. Packer, Regent College)

"This remarkable book interprets the long history of the Christian Church in the light of the Reformation, and the Reformation in the light of Church history. Broad in its learning, scope, and vision, it will undoubtedly stimulate and enthrall those fascinated by the question of how Christianity came to be as it is." (Euan Cameron, Henry Luce III Professor of Reformation Church History, Union Theological Seminary, New York)

"G. R. Evans is one of our finest scholars, and she has written a superb book placing the story of the Reformation in the wider context of Christian history. Comprehensive, well researched and readable." (Timothy George, general editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture)

"The Roots of the Reformation is a book which does not just give an account of the Reformation but sets it in the context of earlier church history, showing where there is continuity and where there is radical change. This will be a welcome addition to the textbooks available." (Anthony N. S. Lane, Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology)

"Far too many students have tried for too long to understand the Reformation in isolation from the long history that preceded it. Cambridge medievalist G. R. Evans has attempted to correct that unfortunate shortsightedness by placing the history of the Reformation in the larger context of its place in the unfolding story of early and medieval Christianity. Her informative book illuminates what is traditional and what is genuinely new about early Protestantism and reintroduces Protestant Christians to their own roots. Essential reading for any student of the Reformation." (David C. Steinmetz, Kearns Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity, Duke University)

"The very title of Gillian Evans's book intimates her perception of the Reformation as paradoxical--severed from the long past and yet still associated with and deeply rooted in it in such a way as to ensure its future, continuous existence in various forms. This book has the distinguishing hallmark of Evans's approach to the history of Christianity, one combining breadth of vision with deep specialist knowledge. Not only that, her writing finesse ensures that this book will enhance accessibility to a critical phase of church history that is in danger of becoming remote for the modern Christian consciousness. Furthermore, the pedagogic value of Evans's book will be appreciated with the appended 'Handlist of Reformation Concerns and Their History', plus 'Links'--an inspired innovation." (Ian Hazlett, Emeritus Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Glasgow)

"As the introduction informs us, 'this book is written as an aid to understanding the way continuities have run through the changes of Christian history.' It is a lively and competent general survey of the chief problems and points of contention running through the history of Christian doctrine. The author, a specialist in late antiquity and the early medieval period, argues that the Reformation ought to be viewed as part of Christianity's age-old attempts to iron out these problems and smooth out the aporias. Accompanied by extensive quotations from primary sources and a handlist of chief Reformation issues in their wider context, this book will prove primarily useful as a manual for general courses in the history of Christianity. It also provides stimulating reading for more advanced scholars." (Irena Backus, Professeur ordinaire of Reformation History and Ecclesiastical Latin, Institut d'histoire de la Réformation, Université de Genève)

"Erudite yet accessible, The Roots of the Reformation deftly navigates the waves of constancy and disruption in the medieval and early modern eras. G. R. Evans's command of the primary source material is breathtaking in its scope. She is an outstanding teacher and a superb storyteller, taking complex abstract concepts and making them understandable, fascinating and relevant. This is a book well worth reading for its rich exploration of the key themes of the sixteenth-century Reformation." (Gwenfair Walters Adams, Associate Professor of Church History, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

"What really changed in the Reformation, and what remained the same? To answer this question, Evans places each major controverted issue against its background of development and dispute in the Christian West, from the first to the sixteenth century. The result is a refreshingly new and judicious assessment of the Reformation's true disjunctions and continuities." (Denis R. Janz, Provost Distinguished Professor of the History of Christianity, Loyola University, New Orleans)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (March 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083083947X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830839476
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,687,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Carl Trueman reviewed this book and declared it unfit for the classroom. Too many factual errors. See reformation 21 for more details...
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Format: Paperback
I was going to buy this book until I read Carl Trueman's review at reformation21.org which outlines many errors and inconsistencies. The publisher, I.V.P., apparently has agreed and has taken this edition out of print until a corrected second edition is released later this year. If you bought the 1st edition, IVP will give you a free 2nd edition (including free shipping) when it is available.
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Format: Paperback
Given IVP's acknowledgment of the textbook's scholarly failures, why haven't they pulled this first edition from the market? Why continue to perpetuate its errors?
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Format: Paperback
I bought and eventually read the first edition before I knew the controversy surrounding the work. I am not a history specialist and so did not notice all the errors Carl Trueman identified. Nevertheless, the book is well worth reading. The errors identified, while certainly important - and now corrected in the second edition, apparently - concern matters at the level of detail. The strength of the book is its big-picture account of significant themes which weave throughout the centuries of the church preceding the Reformation. The argument of the book is quite simple: those issues which were so important in the progress of the Reformation were not new. Their roots go back to the earliest days of the church, continuing and morphing, reappearing time and again, and eventually becoming very important once more in the sixteenth century. It is a helpful, deeply informed and lively story of the church which will benefit those who read it. My full review can be found here: [...] .
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This book is one of the most engaging and informative books you'll find on matters related to the build-up of the Reformation. G.R. Evans is incredibly informed and her area of scholastic prominence is that of medieval theology. There is an emphasis on Augustine of Hippo in her resources, which is completely legitimate because of Augustine's lasting impact centuries after he created theological waves; that lasted well into the times of the 16th century and beyond. I particularly like in this book how she divides up the chapters and the emphasis put on each chapter to discuss a certain subject - like that of the growth of monasticism, or that of the rise of the University.
The Reformation is an incredibly important time of Church history. A lot of folks know vaguely about the "good guy" Martin Luther and the "bad" Catholic Church. But few can articulate knowledgeably why the Reformation came to be manifested, its immediate happenings, or its lasting impact on the Kingdom of God. G.R. Evans does the Church a superb service in informing Pastors, scholars, and lay readers alike to this important era in the history of the Church. I would highly recommend that informed Christians consider this book to add to their library.
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