The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction

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The Reformation was a seismic event in European history, one which left an indelible mark on the modern world. In this Very Short Introduction, Peter Marshall illuminates the causes and consequences of this pivotal movement in western Christianity. The Reformation began as an argument about what Christians needed to do to be saved, but rapidly engulfed society in a series of fundamental changes. This book provides a lively and up-to-date guide that explains doctrinal debates in a clear and non-technical way, but also explores the effects the Reformation had on politics, society, art, and minorities. Marshall argues that the Reformation was not a solely European phenomenon, but that varieties of faith exported from Europe transformed Christianity into a truly world religion. The complex legacy of the Reformation is also assessed. Its religious fervor produced remarkable stories of sanctity and heroism, and some extraordinary artistic achievements. But violence, holy war, and martyrdom were equally its products. A paradox of the Reformation--that it intensified intolerance while establishing pluralism--is one we still wrestle with today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199231317
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/23/2009
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 333,201
  • Product dimensions: 4.60 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Marshall is a Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies in History at the University of Warwick.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

Introduction 1

1 Reformations 11

2 Salvation 42

3 Politics 60

4 Society 76

5 Culture 93

6 Others 110

7 Legacy 129

Chronology 137

Further reading 143

Index 147

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A very interesting introduction to the Reformation

    The Reformation is one of the pivotal moments in all of World History, and not just history of Religion. It encompassed almost all of the Christendom, and its ramifications had been felt far beyond it. Most Christians today live in the palpable shadow of Reformation, and yet very few are completely aware of its extent and history. Although the full history is probably beyond any single book's reach, this very short introduction provides us with an excellent and informative overview. One of the things that I like the most about this book is the fact that it doesn't treat reformation in vacuum, but it rather puts it in context of other political and religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. It also doesn't make the (protestant) reformation as much of a discontinuity as most people have come to think of it over the past few centuries, but it rather points out many points of contact and continuity within and without the Catholic Church in late Middle Ages. In fact, there is such a thing as Catholic reformation and this book dedicates a considerable amount of space to it. The book shuns two extreme views of reformation - as a completely societal development and as a purely religious one. It acknowledges the great importance that religion had in people's lives at the time, which can be very counterintuitive to many people today, but it also doesn't downplay the purely secular considerations as well. In fact, the distinction between the two would have been very hard to grasp for people at that time. The book also talks about the major figures of Protestant Reformation - Luther, Calvin and Zwingli - and discusses the contributions that each one of them made. The timeframe that this book covers is approximately that of late 15th century until the early 18th. As it is quite obvious, this is a lot of history to put in a single book, but Peter Marshall does a remarkable job of accentuating the highlights of that period that pertain to Reformation and does so with remarkable ease. The result is a book that is very readable and informative, and a good stepping stone for further exploration of this fascinating subject.

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