When Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses (reputedly nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg), he unwittingly launched a movement dramatically altered the course of human history. Martin Luther: A Very Short Introduction, by leading Luther and Reformation scholar Paul Hendrix presents the truculant German as historians have now come to understand him.
Instead of singling him out as a social, political, or religious hero, Hendrix's project emphasizes the context in which Luther worked, the colleagues who supported him, and the opponents who adamantly opposed his agenda for change, change they deemed radical. Mostly this includes Luther's religious reforms and his importance without ignoring the external political and cultural forces, such as provincial politics, economic disparity, and Islam's increasing pressure on 16th Century Europe--all of which led and enabled the reformation down paths Luther could neither foresee nor influence.
While Hendrix pays tribute to Luther's genius, he also recognizes the firey combativeness that alienated many of Luther's contemporaries. Additionally, Hendrix addresses the causes underlying Luther's anti-Jewish writings, which have become especially hard to comprehend in light of the Holocaust.
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