March 3, 2024

Luther: An experiment in biography

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That the mature and aging Luther is little known or understood is difficult to believe since, very possibly, more has been written about him than any other man. Before the historians turned their attention on him, close contemporaries of Martin Luther kept copious notes, already aware of the man’s significance. “A dozen devoted Boswells left us an abundant record of this most colorful conversationalist,” says Haile.

Haile introduces the reader to Martin Luther in his fifties, “a grand personality in its own right, one of the most pungently alive in all history. Without quibbling over the legends surrounding the younger man,” Haile says, “I would go straight to the Wittenberg of 1535, where the source of those legends, an articulate and prolific professor, was probably the most influential figure in Renaissance Europe.”

The reader will find here an authentic impression of the Augustinian monk-theologian-pastor struggling to keep the Church together. The bombastic outbursts against the papacy are
here amid clear evidence of the man’s self-doubt and sense of vulnerableness. And here, for the first time in print, is a careful description of Luther’s final year, and his death. To
the end, this is an account of a man captive to conscience and to faith in God.

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