Book/article recommendations for Reformation

Hello, y’all. I’m a faithful Catholic, looking to do some reading on the history and theology of the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Reformation. Something good, meaty, and scholarly would be wonderful. Books and articles from a Catholic perspective would be great, but something good and reliable from a Protestant or secular viewpoint would be fine also. I am not necessarily looking for comprehensive works – different works for different parts of this large subject are fine. What I am looking for is the best and most authoritative. In other words – if it’s good, throw the full bag at me! Thanks!

Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700 by Diarmaid MacCulloch is superb. He is one of the world’s most distinguished scholars of Christian history, especially the reformation period. He writes very well, and is a pleasure to read.

A Classic on the Reformation is A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Irland by William Cobbett. He was a Protestant who lived in the 19th century but gives a very fair treatment. He uncovers the duplicity of the whole phenomenon. He begins with Henry VIII, who set the stage for the Reformation. Another is How The Reformation Happened by Hilaire Belloc. Also Characters of the Reformation by Hilaire Belloc.


The Reformation, A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch is meaty and scholarly and won an award. I recommend it highly.

Characters of the Reformation by Belloc is a must read because he presents about 24 of them each with about 3 to 5 pages concerning their impact in the Reformation.

And to go a step further I recommend Apologia Pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman. This is his personal explanation of how he came into the Catholic Church from the Anglican Church.

A book that impressed me was by Jaroslav Pelikan titled “Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700)”. (It is the 4th of 5 volumes in his series titled “The Christian Tradition - A History of the Development of Doctrine”)

Pelikan was a Lutheran when he wrote it. I recall after I finished reading it, wondering how the author could possibly remain Protestant knowing all he had recorded in his book. Therefore, I was not surprised to read a few years later that he had converted to Orthodox. Was always sorry he hadn’t made it all the way to Rome prior to his death in 2006.
It’s not a quick easy read. Focus is definitely on doctrinal differences and disputes between the varying factions; really don’t remember if there was anything at all about political situations/tensions etc.

Re: the English reformation, MacCulloch and Eamon Duffy are both worth reading.

The book reviewed in this article:

Why Only Catholicism Can Make Protestantism Work: Louis Bouyer on the Reformation
Louis Bouyer contends that the only way to safeguard the positive principles of the Reformation is through the Catholic Church. For only in the Catholic Church are the positive principles the Reformation affirmed found without the negative elements the Reformers mistakenly affixed to them.

Thanks a lot; these are all great suggestions. He is risen, alleleuia!

I’d recommend Owen Chadwick. Been ages since I read him.

I’d also recommend a look at the debate between Erasmus and Luther on free will which provides a fair sampling of Luther’s manner of argumentation from his own hand.

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