The Two Reformations


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The Journey from the Last Days to the New World

Heiko Oberman; Edited by Donald Weinstein

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In this last collection of his vital, controversial, and accessible writings, Heiko A. Oberman seeks to liberate and broaden our understanding of the European Reformation, from its origins in medieval philosophy and theology through the Puritan settlers who brought Calvin’s vision to the New World. Ranging over many topics, Oberman finds fascinating connections between aspects of the Reformation and twentieth-century history and thought—most notably the connection to Nazism and the Holocaust. He revisits his earlier work on the history of anti-Semitism, rejects the notion of an unbroken line from Luther to Hitler to the Holocaust, and offers a new perspective on the Christian legacy of anti-Semitism and its murderous result in the twentieth century.

Oberman demonstrates how the simplifications and rigidities of modern historiography have obscured the existential spirits of such great figures as Luther and Calvin. He explores the debt of both Luther and Calvin to medieval religious thought and the impact of diverse features of “the long fifteenth century”—including the Black Death, nominalism, humanism, and the Conciliar Movement—on the Reformation.

The late Heiko A. Oberman, one of the twentieth century’s great historians of the Reformation, was at the time of his death Regents’ Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He was the author of many books, including the definitive biography of Martin Luther, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil. Donald Weinstein is professor emeritus of the Department of History at the University of Arizona.

“Oberman is bracing, fresh, and daring. In this book he continued his lifelong assault upon modern complacency and our overweening sense of superiority to the past.”—H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia

“One of the most eminent Reformation historians in Germany . . . offers . . . comments on themes relating the Reformation to the modern world in the vein of the social history of ideas. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

“The book . . . offers not only a thoughtful perspective on the Reformation, but also a fitting memorial to its author, who influenced Reformation scholarship in the second half of the twentieth century more than anyone else.”—Hans J. Hillerbrand, Historian

"Part testament, part confession, part polemic, part inventory of a lifetime of brilliant insights, The Two Reformations is an incandescent blast. At once intimate and magisterial, it has the feel of a very private conversation and the footnote-laden substance of a distinguished lecture. . . . Heiko Oberman is to be thanked for this parting gift, which will surely endure, and not just because of what it has to say about the Reformation. Few other great scholars have allowed such intimate access to their minds and souls, or such a provocative overview of an entire field."—Carlos M.N. Eire, Renaissance Quarterly


"These stimulating essays allow us to hear [Oberman's] unmistakable voice once again. . . . His imaginative grasp of Western church history from St. Francis to John Calvin and beyond reflect not the cool objectivity of a historical science disinterested in its own outcome, but the passion of the partisan whose convictions and concerns drive him into the sources." —Mickey L. Mattox, Sixteenth Century Journal

"An immensely stimulating swan song."—Robert M. Kingdon, Journal of Modern History

ISBN: 9780300098686
Publication Date: June 10, 2003
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

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