Oct. 31 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It began quietly enough when an equally quiet monk named Martin Luther created a document, now famously known as the “95 Theses,” protesting various corruptions on the part of the Church. He sent this document of protest to Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz on this date and famously nailed it to the All Saints Church and universities in Wittenberg, Germany at about the same time. Luther was then a professor of moral theology at the University of Wittenberg. The issues Luther brought up included priests selling indulgences, whether human beings were free to choose between good and evil, and the pardoning of sins through faith.
Unbeknownst to Luther, this action would cause a revolution that spread all over the known world. It provoked great change: Henry VIII of England broke with the Church so he could divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Germany, which at that time was a loose confederation of states and part of the Holy Roman Empire, split with some areas Protestant and others Catholic.
If this topic interests you, your library has numerous items that explore this event. A newly published book, “October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World,” by Martin Marty, reflects on Luther and how his 95 theses are still applicable in religion today.
Other books in the collection include Heiko Augustinus Oberman’s “Luther: Man Between God and the Devil,” James Reston, Jr.’s “Luther’s Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege,” and “Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet” by Lyndal Roper. These biographies explore the man behind the Reformation, who also had controversial views on women and other religions.
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Another good book that is concise is “Basic Luther,” which consists of a collection of Luther-related documents, such as the famous “95 theses,” and his “Address to the Nobility.” Alec Ryrie’s “Protestants: The Faith That Made the Modern World” traces the effects of the movement that still persist to the present day.
You can also find a couple of books in our children’s area: Edwin Prince Booth’s “Martin Luther: The Great Reformer,” a biography, or Dave Jackson’s historical novel, “Spy for the Night Riders.”
Also available is the massive four-volume “The Reformation,” by Diarmaid MacCullough that discusses the wide range of issues and huge changes that took place. We also have DVDs and streaming videos that dramatize these momentous events, including “Luther,” starring Joseph Fiennes in the title role. These and other items can be found at your library.
David Breakfield is a reference librarian in the Manatee County Public Library System. You may also access the library via the Internet: www.mymanatee.org/library.