Can anyone, Protestant or Catholic, recommend a good book on the reformation in its earliest years???




Try finding the Fourth Volume of Warren H. Carroll’s Christendom Series, “The Cleaving of Christendom”. It is written from a Catholic perspective.

The fourth of a projected six volumes of Dr. Warren H. Carroll’s fully documented history of Christendom is primarily concerned with the split in Christendom created by the Protestant revolt of Martin Luther and his followers, and consequently is entitled The Cleaving of Christendom.


I would recommend the Reformation which is in three semi-thick volumes by Gonzalez. It is pretty easy to read as well.


Justo Gonzalez wrote a three-volume history of the Reformation? Are you sure that you aren’t thinking of his History of Christian Thought? Gonzalez may be fairer and less biased than Carroll (though I haven’t read Carroll–I’m judging solely from the fact that I’ve only ever seen him recommended on Catholic apologetics sites, while Gonzalez is widely used in reputable Protestant seminaries). But if so, then that says something bad about Carroll rather than something good about Gonzalez. He is pretty biased as well, and he’s not a specialist in the field.

For a general work on the Reformation, I’d recommend either Euan Cameron’s survey or the more recent work by Diarmaid MacCulloch (which goes way beyond “the earliest years”). Steven Ozment’s The Reformation in the Cities gives what I think is a wrong-headed interpretation of the early Reformation as a message of liberation from burdensome medieval religion, but it’s very influential. Peter Blickle’s The Communal Reformation looks at the early Reformation among common people and the way it was squashed with the approval of the major Reformers, particularly Luther. I found it an eye-opening book and would highly recommend it.

Of course, you still need to study the major theologians such as Luther and Zwingli. The first two volumes of Martin Brecht’s biography of Luther give a lot of good info on the early years of the Reformation, although Brecht has a strongly Lutheran bias and should not be relied on for an accurate picture of late medieval Catholicism. Heiko Oberman’s *Luther: Man between God and the Devil *is much more insightful (though still with a strong Protestant bias).



yes, you are correct. My fault there.


One of the books mentioned by Edwin, The Reformation by MacCulloch, is very readable.


great. thanks for the suggestions. quick question: I often have questions regarding book suggestions - is there somewhere else I should post them other than the subject areas where they seem to fit?

thanks again.


Well, for the EARLY early years, you’d want a bio of Martin Luther that focusses on his split with Rome. The best bio for that is


Yes, it’s the best introduction, but you should know that it has a liberal Protestant bias and its treatment of late medieval Catholicism is somewhat unsympathetic.


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