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Luther: Man Between God and the Devil

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Luther: Man Between God and the Devil

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    Available in PDF Format | Luther: Man Between God and the Devil.pdf | English
    Ha Oberman(Author)
Written by one of the world's greatest authorities on Martin Luther, this is the definitive biography of the central figure of the Protestant Reformation. Originally published in Germany in 1982. 78 illustrations.

4.2 (12180)
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Book details

  • PDF | 402 pages
  • Ha Oberman(Author)
  • Yale University Press (7 Mar. 1990)
  • English
  • 8
  • Religion & Spirituality
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Review Text

  • By Thomas Wolsey on 1 January 2016

    Heiko Oberman is a name with which any student of the European Reformations should be acquainted. His scholarship in Reformation studies stands among the very best, and a generation of scholars are indebted to him. As the Guardian newspaper stated in his obituary: "Oberman's contribution to our understanding of the transition from medieval to modern thought was immense. He was the greatest Dutch historian in this field since Johann Huizinga".'Luther: Man Between God and the Devil' (translated from his 'Luther: Mensch zwischen Gott und Teufel') is Oberman's magnum opus; it is over 300 pages of what is a biography of Luther that surpasses even the classic text: Roland Bainton's 'Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther'. However, to say this text is a biography is somewhat misleading. The text is not simply about Martin Luther, but Martin Luther and his place in a world that was caught between two eras and the timelessness of God. Oberman, rightly, contextualises Luther at great length in order to best make sense of the reformer. He is not your typical medieval, Oberman warns, and nor is he your typical early modern; he's "in the light of eternity, not in the mild glow of constant progress toward Heaven, but in the shadow of the chaos of the Last Days and the imminence of eternity." It is this enthusiasm to understand Luther on his terms, drawing on a wealth of scholarship and evidence, that makes this book so masterful.Oberman is thoroughly revisionist. He explicitly challenges many of the received, or at least popular, opinions that had existed in the scholarly literature until the 1980s, especially in presenting a more sympathetic account of Luther. My unwillingness to give the book five stars in that Oberman is perhaps too sympathetic, and on occasion (such as when discussing Luther's relationship with the Jews) tries to re-cast Luther in a way more acceptable to the modern mind, despite the fact such a re-casting is contrived. That said, Oberman is not contrarian. He follows a long historiographical tradition - featuring scholars such as Joseph Lortz (author of 'Die Reformation in Deutschland') - in stressing the subjectivism of Luther (though often in different senses and to different degrees).Students of Luther should certainly consult Oberman's work, but also recognise that much scholarship has been undertaken since Oberman completed this study. Some have criticised this three-part monograph (the three parts being: The Longed-for Reformation, The Unexpected Reformation, and The Reformation in Peril) for over-stating the intensity of Luther's self-understanding as a man in the center of a cosmic battle between God and Satan. Such a criticism perhaps comes from a desire to preserve the idea of Luther as a beacon for religion today, to curtail the seemingly paranoid aspect of Luther's character. In reality, Luther felt the intensity of his position as an agent of God in the Last Days as truly as Oberman argues, and his anfechtung was as real a pain to him as all the physical trials he faced. This is not a criticism of Luther, but rather an insight into him - an insight which allows historians to see the conviction of a man who risked his salvation in order to find it.

  • By Johnas Murallon on 30 November 2009

    Well, good to read and review this book. Too hypothetical and theologically enriching... Whew, for my thesis of course, otherwise...? Heiko Oberman is too good in his reflections.

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