Book Review: Martin Luther in His Own Words

Martin Luther in His Own Words: Essential Writings of the Reformation

My Rating – If you are looking for something

Level – Short, but moderately difficult read. This isn’t an intro for the Reformation, some knowledge of church history and theology will be needed.

Summary
The title could be a bit misleading to some, i.e., one may think it is a sort of autobiography. However, the book is a collect of Martin Luther’s writings. Twelve selections, to be precise, broken into five broad topics (cleverly) modeled after the five solas – fida, gratia, scriptura, Christus, and gloria.

If you are unfamiliar, the five ‘solae’ (alone or only in Latin, think of the modern words sole and solo) was the cry of the Reformation. So the chapters are laid out in the Latin words mentioned above that correspond to faith, grace, Scripture, Christ, glory (to God). Delving into these is beyond the scope of a book review, but as this year (2017) is the 500 anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther was the initiator, it was a pretty interesting way to divide the book.

There is an into by Kilcrease before each selection that helps with context and there are a few footnotes within the selections that are helpful for understanding particular, archaic, and/or theological/ecclesiastical terms.

My Thoughts
There is a difficultly in trying to review a sample pack of a book. My main critique would be that Luther’s most famous writings are probably ‘The Bondage of the Will’ and his Larger & Short Catechisms, and if you know much about him, his commentary on Galatians, and of the 12 selections, only four come from sources other than these. Granted, this may have been their reason for the selections, but I would have preferred a more diverse grouping.

I wanted to like this book more, but maybe because I am fairly familiar with Luther, it just didn’t quite do it for me. However, if you do not know much about Luther’s writings or the beginnings of the Reformation, this may be a great place to start. Kilcrease’s introductions are great and very informative. Or, if you are curious about Luther’s writings and don’t know where to begin, this would be a great place to start. If you haven’t read much, the translation footnotes are incredibly helpful and will make it an easier read the just pulling some of the freely available online versions of many of his writings.

There is renewed interest in Luther and the Reformation in general this year as we approach the 500th anniversary and this book is one to read, if you are looking for something.

If you were looking for a biography then check out Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. I haven’t read it yet, but the general consensus seems to be that it is the best.

If you think this book sounds a little to introductory, or you’ve read it and want more of Luther, then this collection (which I have read) seems to be the best next step (there is some overlap) – The Martin Luther Collection: 15 Classic Works

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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