Martin Luther Visionary Reformer Scott H. Hendrix

Publication date:
18 Oct 2016
Yale University Press
368 pages: 197 x 127mm
25 b-w illus.
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A bold, insightful biography of Martin Luther

"[A] richly detailed portrait."—D.G. Hart, Wall Street Journal

"Even-handed and engaging. . . . A nuanced portrait of Luther as a complex person of many roles."—Marilyn J. Harran, Theological Studies

The sixteenth-century German friar whose public conflict with the medieval Roman Church triggered the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther was neither an unblemished saint nor a single-minded religious zealot according to this provocative new biography by Scott Hendrix. The author presents Luther as a man of his time: a highly educated scholar and teacher and a gifted yet flawed human being driven by an optimistic yet ultimately unrealized vision of “true religion.”
This bold, insightful account of the life of Martin Luther provides a new perspective on one of the most important religious figures in history, focusing on Luther’s entire life, his personal relationships and political motivations, rather than on his theology alone. Relying on the latest research and quoting extensively from Luther’s correspondence, Hendrix paints a richly detailed portrait of an extraordinary man who, while devout and courageous, had a dark side as well. No recent biography in English explores as fully the life and work of Martin Luther long before and far beyond the controversial posting of his 95 Theses in 1517, an event that will soon be celebrated as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Scott H. Hendrix is emeritus professor of history, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the author of numerous works on Martin Luther and the sixteenth-century Reformation. He lives in Fearrington Village, NC.

"[A] richly detailed portrait."—D.G. Hart, Wall Street Journal

"Hendrix has written a scholarly but vivid portrait of a man who, in a spiritual crisis, peered deep into St. Paul’s words about the righteous living by faith, and thought he had found there a new purpose for himself, his friends, his country and all true Christians."—Michael Duggan, Catholic Herald

"There is a plenty of detail in this well-researched study with its extensive cast of characters, and attention to matters as diverse as Luther’s ability to play the lute and his vulnerability to bouts of depression. . . . Luther’s very real humanity emerges in these accounts."—Martin Wellings, Methodist Recorder

"Hendrix covers Luther’s life, outlines his thought and assesses his theology. Crucially though, theology is not allowed to dominate and we see Luther’s ideas against the background of his life and his personal relationships."—Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper

"[Hendrix] has given us a Luther who is not only an extraordinary theologian, but also a firm friend, a demanding colleague, an energetic administrator, a mediocre politician, and a loving, if sometimes heavy-handed, husband and father . . . What keeps it together is Hendrix’s sharp insights, his easy style and his unfailing eye for telling facts or quotations."—Dr. Alec Ryrie, Church Times

"Scott Hendrix is a veteran insider historian from the American Protestant tradition, with the worthy aim of tackling some of the complacent myths all families build up about their founding fathers… an efficient performance."—Diarmaid Mac Culloch, London Review of Books

"Hendrix here offers not only a biography of Luther, but a history of the early Lutheran Reformation. This is indeed a good Luther biography. As 2017 approaches, it will be by no means the last, but the breadth and depth of insight of Hendrix’s biography will make it very difficult to match."—Charlotte Methuen, Theology

“[Hendrix’s] intention in writing this volume, he says, was to provide a readable, up-to-date, comprehensive but not too long account of Luther’s life. . . he has certainly achieved this. . . A comprehensive account, and one which is likely to become a standard reference.”
—Kenneth Austin, Huguenot Society Journal

"One of the best things about this humane and sensitive biography is that it sets Luther in context. Rather than the tormented hero of romantic myth, we have a busy scholar, teacher, preacher and writer surrounded by colleagues, friends and family, responding to the myriad unforeseen challenges that his epoch-changing insights had brought down on him. Enlivening circumstantial details ensure that Scott Hendrix’s Luther truly inhabits his cultural, political and spiritual world."—Euan Cameron, author of The European Reformation

"I did not expect to learn much from reading yet another Luther biography. But I was wrong. Scott Hendrix’s Luther is in many respects a primus inter pares—establishing a point of view that is not, in my opinion, the least of Hendrix’s achievements in this important biography."—David Steinmetz, author of Luther in Context