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Luther the Reformer

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Engaging and authoritative, Kittleson's important and popular biography is here represented with a new cover and new note from the author. His single-volume biography has become a standard resource for those who wish to delve into the depths of the Reformer without drowning in a sea of scholarly concerns.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 1st 1987 by Augsburg Fortress Publishing (first published November 30th 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 293)
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Nick Vandermolen
At the time I reading this I was sleeping on a floor with no job and no money. I had a few PBJ's to my name and a completely empty apartment. Didn't even have a stove. I grew up Lutheran and Luther has always been a bit of a hero to me. Seemed pretty baller, 95 theses and all, so to aspiring to be him is something ingrained into my prepubescent brain (except for the anti-semite thing). I'd always heard stories of him transcribing the Bible and seemed to be portrayed as this locked away sort of c ...more
Ms Cochran
Sep 02, 2009 Ms Cochran rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ms Cochran by: Helen Frederick, Mike Petersen
We have so many reasons to thank God for the gift of Martin Luther, as I was reminded in reading Kittelson's wonderful biography: his book is very compelling yet accessible to the everyday reader. You don't have to be a theologian to appreciate the weight of Luther's life as a reformer who followed the Lord's leading despite excommunication, harsh criticism, and even the threat of death. I think we as Christians should be reminded more often that the faith and doctrine we enjoy today is a gift b ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes biographies or wants to know more about Martin Luther
Shelves: ministry
Beyond that this is a well-written, easy to read, and historically accurate book on Luther, it is a book that preaches. If you want to read not only about the life of the man Luther, but also discover his pastoral heart for everyday people, and see how all of his theology flowed out of the single teaching of "justification by grace through faith", then this is an excellent resource.
This was a great book for understanding both the history and theology of Martin Luther. I have a greater understanding of the man and his times, as well as the roots of Protestant and Lutheran beliefs. If you want a book that does a good job of blending these two subjects (a biography and an explanation of theology), this is a good one.
Kittelson presents a complete narrative of Martin Luther's life, from birth to death, from career milestones and theology to his personality and personal life. He seamlessly weaves in primary sources, including quotes from Luther's (and other) writings and relevant pictures, and he supports his detailed account with plenty of other secondary sources. Kittelson also presents other scholars and theologians in the text and explains their criticisms of Luther and Luther's criticisms of them, which e ...more
Excellent read for those looking for some in-depth background on Luther! A must read during Reformation--although it took me longer to get it finished! :)
Robert Smith
Sep 14, 2011 Robert Smith rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Robert by: Norton Herbst
Shelves: biography
This was a great book about the life and times of Martin Luther. It covers every aspect of Luther's life from his family background, birth, earlier years, life as a monk, university professor, reformer, death. It covers the whole of his life in prose like writing that is easy to read. Some might think that it is too thick but it is a very engaging read that keeps you interested the whole time. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a biography on Luther.
I am a lifetime Lutheran and attended Lutheran grade school, high school and college (for my undergrad degree). Therefore, every year, we would talk about Martin Luther, generally during October in the days leading up to the Reformation on Oct 31. Since I was studying to be a Lutheran grade school teacher, we had an in depth study of Martin Luther as part of one of our history courses and we were required to read this book. It is a well written biography.
Dwight Davis
A very readable and enjoyable biography of Martin Luther. Kittelson does a good job of weaving Luther's life and theology together into a coherent and compelling narrative. My only complaints are that Kittleson glosses over Luther's flaws (his diatribe against the Jews is barely covered and is explained away) and the lack of any information about Luther's engagement with aesthetics and patronage of the arts.
A straightforward, workman-like recounting of the life and times of Martin Luther. Kittelson delineates the delicate and complicated political backdrop that set Luther's theological insights into a real world context, The book gave me a better appreciation for the pressure cooker atmosphere that all parties, Luther and his circle, the German princes, Emperor Charles V, and the Pope, were subject to.
An excellent biography of Martin Luther. However the Kindle version has several formatting problems. In three places in the book the Kindle gets stuck on two pages and refuses to flip past them using the forward and back buttons. You can get around this by using the go to location feature and selecting the next number after the stuck section.
Linda Trostle
A very good and easy-to-read historical account of Luther's life, touching on the theological issues for which he is known. Kittelson ably re-creates Luther's temperment, which has been frequently misunderstood.
Jeffrey King
One of the most authoritative historical books on Luther. A must read for anyone interested in the man, his times, and the context of the reformation.
More comprehensive than Bainton's Here I Stand and almost as well written. A little hagiographic but probably the best one volume treatment.
Matt Moran
I read this for my Luther class at GCTS ... very enjoyable, good, non-technical introduction to Luther's life and thought.
I was particularly pleased with the details of Luther's later years and his impact on local communities in Germany.
Mark Matzke
my favorite Luther bio is readable in one sitting, yet gives a full picture of the reformer's thought world
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James Matthew Kittelson was professor emeritus of history at Ohio State University.

He graduated from Saint Olaf College in 1963. With the support of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1963) and a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship (1966–67), he earned the PhD (1969) in Reformation history from Stanford University under the direction of Lewis Spitz. After four years on the history faculty at the Uni
More about James M. Kittelson...

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