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Luther: A Life by John M. Todd


John M. Todd is the author of a number of books, including Reformation, and John Wesley and the Catholic Church. Luther: A Life was published in 1982 by The Crossroad Publishing Company. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.


On Sources and Further Reading


My primary source has been the American edition of Lutherís Works, published in fifty-four volumes (plus one Introductory Volume) jointly by Fortress Press and Concordia Publishing House. The translation is of a high standard, generally using contemporary English, only lapsing occasionally into antique language. Each volume has a general introduction, often with many further introductions to the particular texts it contains. These introductions together with numerous notes, cross referencing and indexes provide a superb structure of information and comment. The volumes contain frequent reference to the standard complete edition of Lutherís Works in the original Latin and German, the one hundred or so volumes in the Weimar Ausgabe. As a result, it is easy to find oneís way back to the original texts, whether or not included in the American edition. Apart from the Weimar edition itself, undoubtedly the American translation must be the main recommendation for further reading.

For elucidation of background, and of Lutherís life and thought, there is a very large library of books available. Everyone will have his favourites. I provide a small, select list here. Several of these books themselves contain lengthy bibliographies valuable for further wide reading. But first I single out five specially valuable books of which three on the life and background are by A. G. Dickens:

A. G. Dickens, Martin Luther and the Reformation. English Universities Press, London. 1967.

A. G. Dickens, Reformation and Society, Thames & Hudson, London, 1968,

A. G. Dickens, The German Nation and Martin Luther, Edward Arnold, London, 1974.

It is difficult to single out further reading for Lutherís theology. Often he used biblical language, also that of the early Church and of the medieval schools. Then he will suddenly transform it all into urgent contemporary sixteenth-century phrases, Latin or German. Twentieth-century books on Lutherís theology are coloured, inevitably, by the thought of the four subsequent centuries and often impart meanings and nuances quite absent from the original. With this caveat I single out two books from a great multitude. Gordon Ruppís book is a classic, written thirty years ago, but still with much more to tell us of Luther than most other books on his theology. Its quotations from Luther are more numerous and range more widely than those in any other comparable book. Something similar can be said of the book by J. D. K. Siggins. And both contain helpful detailed references to the Weimar edition:

Gordon Rupp, The Righteousness of God, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1953.
J. D. K. Siggins, Martin Lutherís Doctrine of Christ, Yale University Press, 1970.

For Lutherís early years (my Chapters 1 and 2) there is no substitute for the
726 pages of R. H. Fifeís The Revolt of Martin Luther, Columbia University Press,
New York, 1957. Further useful detail can be found for background and life in
E. G. Schwiebertís Luther and his Times, Concordia Press, Missouri, 1950. For

Lutherís early years a few statements in my text are surmises, but always based
on well-attested fact. The relevant pages in Fyfe have copious references to original German and Latin texts.

From Chapter 3 onwards the selection of Lutherís Letters translated in volumes 48, 49 and 50 of the American edition of the Works, are the source for the majority of the quotations from his letters. Volumes 51 and 52 provide a useful selection from Lutherís sermons. Volume 53 is an exceptionally interesting volume, devoted to Liturgy and Hymns; Volume 54, the Table Talk, comes into its own at a later stage. Fife continues to be an invaluable source from Chapter 3 to Chapter 12 inclusive. The German Theology of 1515, with Lutherís Introduction is available from SPCK in London and Paulist Press, New York (1980). Of a number of books which deal with the thought of the early Luther, very valuable is Jared Wicksís Man Yearning for Grace, Corpus Books, Cleveland, 1968.

The following is a select list of books under three headings to provide a variety of further reading, but again there are many others.

1. Background

Roland H. Bainton, Erasmus of Christendom, Collins, London 1970.

Christian Humanism and the Reformation. Selected Writings of Erasmus, ed. and transl. by John C. Olin, Harper & Row, New York.

The Collected Works of Erasmus, Toronto University Press, a growing edition.

Hans J. Hillerbrand, The World of the Reformation, Dent, London, 1975.

Hubert Jedin, A History of the Council of Trent, Vol.1, Nelson, London, 1957.

Joseph Lortz, The Reformation in Germany, D.L.T., London and Seabury, New York, 1968.

Documents Illustrative of the Continental Reformation, ed. by B. J. Kidd, Oxford, 1911.

Gordon Rupp, Patterns of Reformation, Epworth Press, London, 1969.

John M. Todd, Reformation, Darton, Longman & Todd, London: Doubleday, New York, 1972.

  1. Lutherís Life

Ronald H. Bainton, Here I Stand, Abingdon Press, 1950: Mentor Books, New York.

Erik H. Erikson, Young Man Luther, Faber & Faber, London, 1958.

V. H. H. Green. Luther and the Reformation Batsford, London, 1964.

H. G. Haile, Luther, Sheldon Press, London: Doubleday, New York.

Erwin Iserloh, The Theses were not Posted, Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1968.

Daniel Olivier, The Trial of Luther, Mowbrays, London, 1978.

Preserved Smith, The Life and Letters of Martin Luther, Boston, 1911.

John M. Todd, Martin Luther, Burns and Oates, London; Newman Press, subsequently Paulist Press, New York, 1964.

  1. Lutherís Thought

Mark U. Edwards, Luther and the False Brethren, Stanford University Press, 1975.

Gerhard Ebeling, Luther, Collins, London, 1970.

Luther, ed. by H. G. Koenigsberger, London & New York. 1973.

Harry J. McSorley, Luther, Right or Wrong?, Newman & Augsburg, New York, 1969.

Jaroslav, Pelikan, Spirit versus Structure, Collins, London, 1968.

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