Martin Luther: The Christian between God and Death, by Richard Marius (576 pages,
Belknap/Harvard (2004) https://www.amazon.com/Martin-Luther-Christian-between-Death/dp/067400387X
I read this book when it was first published and I really enjoyed it, so I recently bought the paperback edition and read it again.
It was well worth reading again.
The book is very well written and the subject is fascinating. In particular, the author’s thesis regarding the influence the fear of death and the threat of nonexistence had upon educated people in the late Middle Ages, including Luther.
The author explains well the atmosphere of the times… how death was represented in art especially, and how the plague figured in peoples’ thinking during this time. Luther was influenced by the nominalism of his day and struggled personally with death, more so than with hell and eternal punishment — the threat of non-existence in particular.
In short, the author has given us a very well written account of Luther during his most important years at the beginning of the Reformation. The author, at times, writes about Luther’s later years, but his focus is upon his early years.
The book becomes very theological at times, almost a theology book, and will likely be of more interest to readers interested in both theology and Luther, as opposed to those only interested in Luther. The author was educated in theology and this is evident by his excellent grasp of the theological issues of the time.
While I’ve never been a huge fan of Luther and his crude style, this book has given me a much greater appreciation for him. I saw a lot of my own beliefs in Luther, and I suppose I have him to thank for them, since he was the man who sparked the Reformation.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Luther and the Reformation.