BRAND LUTHER – Andrew Pettegree (2015)

lutherHow can an unpublished, obscure Roman Catholic monk move from the shadows to the world stage in a matter of years. This is the subject of Andrew Pettegree’s book, Brand Luther. Pettegree walks meticulously through the events of the Reformer’s life; events that would mark a nation and rock the world. This is Brand Luther.

The author sets the stage by alerting readers to Luther’s fascinating background. From his birth in Eisleben to his university days in Erfurt, and his teaching days at in Wittenberg, Pettegree establishes Luther’s cultural context along with vivid allusions to the theological landscape. Ultimately, his design is to show how Luther rises to prominence in a most unusual way.

Brand Luther is unique in that it captures the pathos of the 16th century. The author delves into matters that pertain to culture, theology, economics, and personal emotion – to name a few. The author has an uncanny ability of navigating readers on the path that Luther walked and placing them in the emotional state he experienced and the physical ailments he endured. The turmoil that Luther felt and the threat of impending death looms like London fog on a cold autumn evening.

The author argues that Luther’s writing along with the establishment of the printing press are integral to his success, not to mention the gains of the Protestant Reformation: “Many things conspired to ensure Luther’s unlikely survival through the first years of the Reformation, but one of them was undoubtedly print.” The book is filled with evidence that points in this direction which bolsters the author’s thesis along the way.

Brand Luther is a serious work of history which spans nearly 400 pages but the book reads like a novel – quite an accomplishment for a scholarly work!

Essential reading for students of the Reformation!

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