A Reformation Reader Guide

Five hundred years ago the posting of a number of theses by an Augustinian monk turned the world upside down. Plenty has been written of this, and if I simply tried to list here all the books that have appeared this year – and the past few years – on the Reformation, I would keep very busy indeed.

I will not be so reckless. Here I wish to mention just some of the better ones that have recently appeared, as well as list some of the older classic volumes. This will be my second offering on this. I have already written a brief bibliography on the Reformation earlier this year.

Since so many new volumes keep pouring off the presses, and since I am including some other older ones as well, it is worth doing another bibliography, while we still have a few weeks left in this 500th anniversary year. Here then is some of my recommended reading:

General works

Bainton, Roland, The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. Beacon Press, 1952.
Bainton, Roland, The Age of the Reformation. D. Van Nostrand, 1956.
Barrett, Matthew, ed., Reformation Theology. Crossway, 2017.
D’Aubigne, J. H. Merle, History of the Reformation on the Sixteenth Century. Baker, 1846, 1976.
D’Aubigne, J. H. Merle, The Reformation in England, 2 vols. Banner of truth, 1868, 1962.
Elton, Geoffrey, Reformation Europe. Harper & Row, 1963.
Dickens, A. G., The English Reformation. Schocken, 1964.
Dickens, A. G., Reformation and Society in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Thames and Hudson, 1966.
Evans, G. R., The Roots of the Reformation. IVP, 2012.
George, Timothy, Theology of the Reformers. B&H, 1988, 2013.
Kolb, Robert and Carl Trueman, Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation. Baker, 2017.
Landry, Eric and Michael Horton, eds., The Reformation Then and Now. Hendrickson, 2017.
Littlejohn, Bradford and Jonathan Roberts, eds., Reformation Theology: A Reader of Primary Sources with Introductions. Davenant Press, 2017.
Lutzer, Erwin, Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation. Baker, 2016.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid, All Things Made New: The Reformation and Its Legacy. Oxford, 2016.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid, The Reformation: A History. Penguin, 2005.
McGrath, Alister, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution. HarperOne, 2007.
McGrath, Alister, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation. Wiley-Blackwell, 2003.
McGrath, Alister, Reformation Thought: An Introduction, 4th Edition. Wiley-Blackwell, 1988, 2012.
Marshall, Peter, Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation. Yale, 2017.
Nichols, Stephen J., The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Crossway, 2007.
Owen, Chadwick, The Reformation. 1964.
Reeves, Michael, The Unquenchable Flame. B&H, 2010.
Reeves, Michael and Tim Chester, Why the Reformation Still Matters. IVP, 2016.
Thompson, Mark, et. al, eds, Celebrating the Reformation. Apollos, 2017.
Trueman, Carl, Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Christian Focus, 2011.
Vanhoozer, Kevin, Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity. Brazos Press, 2016.
Van Neste, Ray and Michael Garrett, eds., Reformation 500. B&H, 2016.

See also “The 5 Sola Series”:
Barrett, Matthew, God’s Word Alone. Zondervan, 2016.
Schreiner, Thomas, Faith Alone. Zondervan, 2015.
Trueman, Carl, Grace Alone. Zondervan, 2017.
VanDrunen, David, God’s Glory Alone. Zondervan, 2015.
Wellum, Stephen, Christ Alone. Zondervan, 2017.

I review this series here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2017/06/20/5-solas-series/

Luther – biographies and theology

Althaus, Paul, The Ethics of Martin Luther. Fortress Press, 1965, 1972.
Althaus, Paul, The Theology of Martin Luther. Fortress Press, 1966.
Bainton, Roland, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Abingdon Press, 1950.
Bayer, Oswald, Martin Luther’s Theology. Eerdmans, 2003, 2008.
Forde, Gerhard, On Being a Theologian of the Cross. Eerdmans, 1997.
Hendrix, Scott, Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer. Yale University Press, 2017.
Kolb, Robert, Martin Luther and the Enduring Word of God: The Wittenberg School and Its Scripture-Centered Proclamation. Baker, 2016.
Kolb, Robert, The Oxford Handbook of Martin Luther’s Theology. Oxford, 2016.
Kolb, Robert and Charles Arand, The Genius of Luther’s Theology. Baker, 2008.
Lohse, Bernhard, Martin Luther’s Theology. Fortress, 2011.
McGrath, Alister, Luther’s Theology of the Cross. Blackwell, 1985.
Marshall, Peter, 1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation. Oxford, 2017.
Mattes, Mark, Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty. Baker, 2017.
Metaxas, Eric, Martin Luther. Viking, 2017.
Nichols, Stephen, Beyond the 95 Theses. P&R, 2016.
Oberman, Heiko, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. Doubleday, 1992.
Roper, Lyndal, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet. Random House, 2017.
Sproul, R. C. and Stephen Nichols, eds., The Legacy of Luther. Reformation Trust, 2016.
Trueman, Carl, Luther on the Christian Life. Crossway, 2015.
Wengert, Timothy, ed., Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions. Baker, 2017.

Calvin – biographies and theology

Image of Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions
Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions by Wengert, Timothy J. (Editor), Granquist, Mark (Editor), Haemig, Mary (Editor), Kolb, Mark (Editor), Mattes, Mark (Editor), Storm, Mark (Editor) Amazon logo

Godfrey, W. Robert, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. Crossway, 2009.
Gordon, F. Bruce, Calvin. YUP, 2011.
Littlejohn, Bradford and Jonathan Tomes, eds., Beyond Calvin: Essays on the Diversity of the Reformed Tradition. Davenant Press, 2017.
McGrath, Alister, A Life of John Calvin. Wiley-Blackwell, 1991.
McNeill, J. T., The History and Character of Calvinism. OUP, 1954.
Mueller, Richard, Calvin and the Reformed Tradition. Baker, 2012.
Niesel, Wilhelm, The Theology of Calvin. Baker, 1980.
Parker, T. H. L., John Calvin: A Biography. Presbyterian Publishing, 1975.
Reid, W. Stanford, ed., John Calvin: His Influence in the Western World. Zondervan, 1982.
Selderhuis, Herman, ed., The Calvin Handbook. Eerdmans, 2009.
Selderhuis, Herman, John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life. IVP, 2009.
Wendel, Francois, Calvin: The Origins and Development of His Religious Thought. Baker, 1995.

See also the 8-volume Calvin 500 Series:
Ford Lewis Battles, ed., The Piety of John Calvin (P&R, 2009).
David Hall, Calvin in the Public Square (P&R, 2009).
David Hall, The Legacy of John Calvin (P&R, 2008).
David Hall, ed., Preaching Like Calvin (P&R, 2010).
David Hall, ed., Tributes to Calvin (P&R, 2010).
David Hall and Matthew Burton, Calvin and Commerce (P&R, 2009).
David Hall and Peter Lillback, eds., A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes. (P&R, 2008).
David Hall and Marvin Padgett, eds., Calvin and Culture (P&R, 2010).

These 70-plus volumes should keep you busy for a while. Happy reading.

(Australians: A number of these books can be found at Koorong.)

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6 Replies to “A Reformation Reader Guide”

  1. This is such an important historical event. I can also recommend H.J. Grimm’s ‘The Reformation Era 1500-1650’ (pub. 1965. MacMillan. N.Y.) with concluding commentary of contemporary relevance. His main premise is that the jury is still out on society and the separation of church and state. That’s no longer the case, but it is a pretty decent backgrounding. The verdict has been returned, but the State can’t accept it, which, in my humble opinion, is why our political system has lost all integrity and become reactionary. To say that we live in interesting times is not just to state the obvious. How much irony can Western social structures support?

  2. Thank you for reminding us of the beginning of the Reformation – very important event. There have been literally thousands of books written on the subject over the last 500 years, whether the early events or subsequent events, but do you seriously expect us to read all, or even some, of this massive list above? We’re not all speed readers like you are! At least highlight some titles which you consider to be the best of the selection.
    One section of the Reformation which has been constantly overlooked, and which seems to be missing from your list, is the story of the Huguenots in France. I would recommend:
    Janet Gray, “The French Huguenots: Anatomy of Courage”, Baker, 1981.
    Also, with this emphasis in your blog on an event the Roman Catholics wish had never happened, where does this leave your Catholic “co-belligerents”?
    My own view there is that while we can be thankful that many RCs have taken a stand on the moral issues of our day, I am very wary of bringing them on-side in a combined crusade. The theological issues of the Reformation remain, and are still of vital importance. In the Council of Trent Rome effectively turned its back on the Gospel, and that remains their official standard to this day. Even on moral issues, as my former professor, Klaas Runia, would often point out, the RC constant appeal is to nature and natural arguments. This type of line goes back to Aquinas with his “nature/grace” dichotomy (as I’m sure you’re aware), whereby nature takes one part way; grace takes him the rest of the way. I do not sit comfortably with that approach. I know Paul invokes natural arguments from time to time, but not much; meanwhile natural arguments have availed little in this whole culture war, so why do we still use them? It’s time – overtime – to declare “Thus says the LORD”, even if it brings on the opprobrium of the world.

  3. Thanks Murray. You worry about too many books here, only to add another volume to the list! Thanks for the recommendation. But where did I say I expect everyone to read them all? I merely offered a small sampling of some of the better volumes available on this important event. And it is a bit unhelpful for me to talk about the ‘best’ volumes here. ‘Best’ depends on what the reader is after of course. If he wanted to know all he could in one volume about Luther and Lutheranism, then something like the large dictionary by Wengert would be of use. If he wanted a brief but reliable biography of him, the older classic by Bainton would be worth pursuing for example. For helpful background material, the volumes by McGrath are usually well worth reading. For a closer look at the theology, I already provided a link to my review of the 5 solas series. And so on.

    As to Catholics and co-belligerency, I have dealt with that so often now both in articles and comments that I will not once again do so here. If by “natural arguments” you mean natural theology and natural law and the like, I am happy to run with that as much as Scripture runs with it. It is not a question of running with Scripture OR appealing to nature, but BOTH of course, just as Paul and others did when dealing with issues, including ethical issues (“does not nature itself teach…” 1 Corinthians 11, eg.!). Indeed, even the Reformers were not at all averse to run with general revelation and natural law reasoning, at least in part. If Scripture and the Reformers could do it, so will I. Indeed, I will use whatever approaches I feel the Lord leads me to use. If others do not like that, that is up to them. But thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Bill,
    Thanks for this comprehensive reading list. Another Luther biography is: Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, John Murray, 1911; there’s a 1993 reprint by Hodder & Stoughton.

  5. Bill I walked into the old WORD BOOKSTORE in Nunawading some years ago and asked if they had a copy of MARTIN LUTHERs book TABLE TALK which is a collection of his sermons and talks to students as well as his writings. In response to my query the young woman assistant said ‘Who?’ A heritage and history was lost on her and whatever church she attends.

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