LUTHER by Richard Marius


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There has been over the centuries no shortage of words on Luther, and Marius has at least a passing acquaintance with all of them. His object in this biography is, indeed, to set historiography aright. Luther has been either the whipping boy or hero and saint of religious enthusiasts, nationalists, liberals, psychologists. There has always been one particular side to his character magnified. Nothing balanced. The man who harangued peasants, told them to accept their miserable worldly stations, yet who also defied papal authority, is seen here not as irreconcilable paradox, but as ""product of the times"": a man who stood somewhere between the proselytizing aspirations of a Calvin and the otherworldliness of Anabaptism. Luther was of a piece: ""We cannot truly isolate the warm and benevolent aspects of Luther's theology from the vicious and intolerant side of the man."" Marius, no stranger to the Reformation (he has done work on More), does an excellent job in most respects. Yet, because he tries to avoid getting lost in Luther's own tempests, because he avoids making his subject ""a great example,"" he unfortunately misses something of the fire of the man.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1974
Publisher: Lippincott