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Luther the Reformer

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  245 Ratings  ·  30 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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Nick Vandermolen
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jesus
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
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather 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, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, history
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.
May 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! :)
Hudson Christmas
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Martin Luther is an important and controversial figure in the history of the Christian faith. Most believers know him as the one who started the Protestant Reformation with his nailing of the 95 Theses to the church doors on All Hallows Day so many years ago. However, many people also remember him as a pompous, uncaring, Anti-Semitic Catholic that God somehow found a way to use to save and then use mightily. If you would have asked me about this a few days ago, I would have agreed with the previ ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a biography and summary of Luther's life and progression of religious thinking and writing. I found the book helpful and has lead me to read more deeply about Martin Luther. As a life long Lutheran, this has been a missing piece of history to me. The idea to read this book with my reading club is to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the reformation. This book was recommended by my minister who read it in seminary.
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, accessible biography of Martin Luther. Our book Club has been studying this for three months.
Must read for anyone wanting a good perspective on theology. Luther was a radical and his ideas are as radical today as ever.
Shane Hill
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic read and easy to follow! Covers all the main points of this Titan's life and work!
Hannah Langhoff
A detailed, evenhanded account of Luther's life and theology. Dry but informative.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I "really liked" it (4 stars) personally, but that's because I read it in small doses and can tolerate pain well.

It is the detailed chronicling of Luther's doctrinal positions and every last argument he had to engage in that makes the book tedious - even though interesting for a review of issues 500 years ago.

The theological disputes and Luther's learnings are scattered throughout the years of his personal life. The story gives the reader multiple glimpses of life on the European continent 500 y
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sean Hinnenkamp
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With Reformation history being my concentration for my History degree, I can honestly that this is a great overview of the Reformation and Martin Luther. The book proceeds chronologically following the beginning of discontent before Martin Luther all the way to his death and legacy.

This book would serve the purpose of a broad secondary source for undergraduates or history buffs looking to learn a little more about Luther.
Robert Smith
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Dwight Davis
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alex Blance
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
just bought it recently
Nov 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was particularly pleased with the details of Luther's later years and his impact on local communities in Germany.
Mark Matzke
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my favorite Luther bio is readable in one sitting, yet gives a full picture of the reformer's thought world
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for my Luther class at GCTS ... very enjoyable, good, non-technical introduction to Luther's life and thought.
Hillary Borders
Read for Reformation Europe.
Jeffrey King
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Stephanie Davis
rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2018
John Guthridge
rated it really liked it
Jan 09, 2015
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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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