This is a book that deserves, even demands, the adjective 'magisterial.' Professor McCulloch's treatment of what seems an infinitely complex subject is objective and wide-reaching. It is not for everyone; but for the serious student of Christian history who can walk a path through a very long and compassionate study, it would be indispensible. If I were using it as part of a degree program, for instance, I would never dare attempt the project without hi-liters and notebooks for outlines and essays. In such a vast enterprise, one can always quibble here and there, but not with a serious withdrawal of admiration. It does leave you with a depth of regret that so much of blood, anger, and recrimination was spent on disputes that now pale in the overarching shadows of secular materialism.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-03-29 Many standard histories of Christianity chronicle the Reformation as a single, momentous period in the history of the Church. According to those accounts, a number of competing groups of reformers challenged a monolithic and corrupt Roman Catholicism over issues ranging from authority and the role of the priests to the interpretation of the Eucharist and the use of the Bible in church. In this wide-ranging, richly layered and captivating study of the Reformation, MacCulloch challenges traditional interpretations, arguing instead that there were many reformations. Arranging his history in chronological fashion, MacCulloch provides in-depth studies of reform movements in central, northern and southern Europe and examines the influences that politics and geography had on such groups. He challenges common assumptions about the relationships between Catholic priests and laity, arguing that in some cases Protestantism actually took away religious authority from laypeople rather than putting it in their hands. In addition, he helpfully points out that even within various groups of reformers there was scarcely agreement about ways to change the Church. MacCulloch offers valuable and engaging portraits of key personalities of the Reformation, including Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin. More than a history of the Reformation, MacCulloch's study examines its legacy of individual religious authority and autonomous biblical interpretation. This spectacular intellectual history reminds us that the Reformation grew out of the Renaissance, and provides a compelling glimpse of the cultural currents that formed the background to reform. MacCulloch's magisterial book should become the definitive history of the Reformation. (May 3) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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