ONLINE BOOK Reformation Europe's House Divided 1490 1700 By Diarmaid MacCulloch – dedelicate.com
Mission of texts and truth by monks In earlier centuries monks cheerfully forged documents on a huge scale for the greater glory of God particularly charters proving their monastery s claim to lands and privileges They lived in a world where there were too few documents and so they needed to manufacture the authority to prove things which they new in their hearts to be true He uses the statement to illustrate their forgery and mistransmission of biblical texts One wonders of MacCulloch s views on the truthfulness and inerrancy of Scripture a marked tenant of the Reformation Lack of Theological AwarenessI think this stems from MacCulloch s disinterest in religion He does not describe with sufficient detail the theological and doctrinal ideas of the Reformed movements but shallowly When he does describe them such as Luther s view on indulgences Zwingli s view on the Lord s Supper Calvin s view on civil government or Cranmer s view on the English church he characterizes them in the worst possible light often as having developed from ill begotten motives Luther wallowed in his paradoxes Zwingli was two faced with the anabaptists Calvin was a destructive radical and Cranmer was motivated by expediency Nor are the conseuences of ideas discussed Or when they are nothing positive AT ALL is mentioned Society was the worst off for the Reformation At very least reading this book one does not come to any attachments to the Reformation At most one comes to view it with a despised condescension Tangled writing MacCulloch s writing is ambling and at times incessantly stringed Each sentence leads to another idea whose reasoned connection one traces like a bottle rocket without a tail Added to the difficulty is that his syntax compiles too many thoughts on top of themselves so as to make reading like climbing a mountain of clam shells This is a typical sentence pair We have already encountered the charismatic Franciscan Giovanni di Capistrano when the Turks first tr Comprehensive but dry This is simply put the best popular history book I ve ever read The subject is the Reformation but MacCulloch goes far beyond the traditional Luther to Westphalia timeline using the first few chapters to flesh out the world of Latin Christianity as it existed during the century or so before Luther arrived on the scene Geographically the book also extends well beyond the borders of what we often view to be the main sphere of the Reformation Germany France and England to explore how the same forces for reform and spiritual experimentation were alive in Italy Spain and other countries usually seen as solidly and stolidly orthodox Catholic The lands east north and south of Germany including Transylvania Bohemia the Balkans and Scandinavia are also given a much detailed examination than usualNor is this at all accidental MacCulloch is clearly determined to eliminate what he sees as blank spots and misinterpretations in the popular conception of what the Reformation was and how it came to be The role of such famous characters as Erasmus and Loyola Bethlen Gabor and Archbishop Laud are reexamined and pains are taken to give those who are often dismissed as bit characters or historical peculiarities Zwingli for example who is so often overshadowed by the well nown Calvin are given back their true significance The book is thick with detail if there is a flaw to it it s that some readers may well be exhausted by the book but it s all put together so skillfully that most readers will I think end up working their way through the whole massive tome in record timeDespite all this detail within the main text MacCulloch sets aside a few chapters at the end to deal with specific uestions gender roles and sexuality for example in a specific manner These are excellent resources and ones which would have been difficult to include in the main text without either having to dilute them considerably in order to fit with the chronological narrative of the rest of the book or breaking up the flowAll in all an excellent piece of work Considerably better in my opinion than his nevertheless uite good History of Christianity which suffers from the sheer vastness of the subject set into a single volume The Reformation on the other hand shows what MacCulloch can do with a rich but temporally limited subject and the result is a thing of beauty Magisterial MacCulloch s scholarship is formidable It took me a month to read and yet I never felt the urge to put it away He gives in depth coverage to areas I ve read little about despite having read a lot of books about the Reformation One example I remember is a solid review of the Reformation in the Netherlands It is not an easy read but it is a worthwhile one The story of the Reformation is long and complex and so are many of MacCulloch s sentences but never mind This is a rich and full account of the Reformation in which the motivations of faith and feeling power and practicality are woven fine the players in the drama are presented as whole people and the meaning of this chapter of Western cultural history is modeled in the round Rakow and Torda 500 years after the Reformation Diarmaid MacCulloch examines how the announcement of a university seminar in Germany led to the division of Europe He examines the ideas of Martin Luther where they came from and why they proved so revolutionary tracing their development and influence and reflecting on what they mean for us today. Rands of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and ranging widely across Europe and the New World MacCulloch reveals as never before how these dramatic upheavals affected everyday lives overturning ideas of love sex death and the supernatural and shaping the modern
I picked this up because I new almost nothing about the Reformation and I felt like I should at least have the basic history straight for events which were so vital to the shaping of the modern worldAnd it mostly covered me for that He did an excellent job of putting you inside the very alien worldviews and socio cultural arrangements of the time and illustrating just how revolutionary and sudden a change the Reformation really was He gave engaging and detailed sketches of most of the main actors involved in the religious political and cultural arenas He covered enough of the intricate theological problems which developed and were fought out but not so much as to make my eyes glaze over And he did an excellent job of taking you down to the level of everyday people and looking at how and why they embraced such a sudden change in such a vital part of their existence and what the conseuences were for their way of life going forwardWhere he fell down just a bit was in connecting the ground level with the elite and the religious with the political and especially the military He did a good job on the elites insofar as they related to religion but the political history was pretty thin He also certainly covered all of the major conflicts of the time but they always seemed like something that happened in the background and only flashed into full view at a few crisis points I came in with a vague idea of how and why the French Wars of Religion the English Civil War and the 30 Years War were fought and left with a not much clearer oneOf course any one of those conflicts can and has merited many an extensive history of its own but I think he could have done a better job of fully describing them and linking them thoroughly and organically with the political social cultural and religious turmoil that caused and sustained them The 30 Years War especially seemed to be elided over Constraints of space were probably a big concern as the book still came in at over 700 pages but I would have rather read another 100 or so and been left with a complete pictureStill pretty minor uibbles for a book that taught me lot about a subject I came in with little background on and that had plenty of major strengths to outweigh that one notable weakness Definitely read if you want a solid social cultural religious and basic political history of the Reformation from a modern point of view If you re interested in the military history or in any of the specific conflicts pick up a specialized history of the case in uestion Confronted with the challenge of writing about an era too well Talk to Me known Lytton Strachey advised how the explorer of the past would proceed He will row out over the great ocean of material and lower down into it here and there a little bucket which will bring up to the light of day some characteristic specimen from the far depths to be examined with a careful curiosity This magisterial history of the Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch is a prolonged exercise in doing just thatThis is a subject Inow a thing or two about yet his text is liberally sprinkled with facts insights and interpretations new to me all of it told in an off hand style that makes it seem as if he s just sitting and chatting with you in a diffident way Yet never did I feel that his examples were mere curiosities invariably they illuminated the topic under discussionThe section of New Possibilities Paper and Printing 70 76 is a case in point Many have made the connection between the invention of movable type and the rapid spread of the ideas of Luther and other Reformers But MacCulloch thinks further The rapid proliferation of affordable books made it worthwhile to learn to read this before 1516 In turn the proliferation of profitable printers created an opportunity for new texts The modern concept of author had its birth then And it surely wasn t accidental that it was only then that the Index was created an attempt to control which of the new flood of books should not be readI also found enlightening his assertion that the Reformation can be seen as a conflict within the legacy of Augustine with Luther emphasizing the inability of a human to work toward his or her own salvation making him or her utterly dependent on God s grace while his opponents oriented themselves on Augustine s stress on the need for obedience to the church to attain salvationThe author shows throughout how much can be gained by considering how social economic and political aspects of life then factored into the Reformation yet at the same time maintains the centrality of theology People then were in dead earnest about matters of beliefOne feature of the book is its continent wide scale Too often an emphasis on German speaking Europe obscures the interesting developments to the east Another is that after 500 pages of roughly chronological treatment the author adds a section entitled Patterns of Life dealing with a variety of topics such as the use of images the frenzy with regard to witches and matters related to family and sexuality focusing both on aspects that remained the same despite the split in Western Christianity as well as what changedThis is a thick book my paperback copy has 700 pages of text set in small type supplemented by suggestions for further reading notes and an index It may be than the casual reader cares to digest But with the 500th anniversary of the outbreak of the Reformation rapidly approaching I say with conf. At a time when men and women were prepared to Silver Mortal (The Gracen Chronicles, kill and beilled for their faith the Protestant Reformation tore the Western world apart Acclaimed as the definitive account of these epochal events Diarmaid MacCulloch's award winning history brilliantly re creates the
Idence that if you read only one book on the topic this would be an excellent choice This was excellent readable smooth as comprehensive and unbiased as one can hope for I now understand a whole lot of things clearly and Educating for the New World Order know about a host of other things of which I was ignorant I recommend this to anyone with an interest in European intellectual and social history I especially recommend it to anyone who ever thought the Reformation was boring but that they ought tonow about it At times this book seemed like the most magisterial and thoughtful work I d ever read on religion or early modern Europe MacCulloch s descriptions of the Catholic Church before Luther and of the monumental changes in life and society after Luther are clear and beautiful examples of the history of culture and of thought simply unparalleled in any work I ve read on the subjects The middle third of the book however is an impossibly confusing welter of names and datesFirst however the good MacCulloch does a great job rehabilitating the image of the church in the 1400s Far from being Lengthy and somewhat informed I m no expert on the Reformation hence my reading of the book but I have read around in theology and history Social BackdropMacCulloch provides extensive social and civic background to the Reformation that is invaluable He draws a confluence of courses all converging upon this varied yet singular event As a social history it is superb He also very wonderfully shows how prior to The Reformation there were thousands of tiny little reformations Monks priests friars nuns bishops lords barons princes ings and so on all of whom formed so many various organizations and institutions of reform in their own ways that it is difficult to study The Reformation without them In narrating this account MacCulloch has done us all an excellent service For instance Luther was not the only one disgusted with the sale of indulgences There was therefore a ready audience for anyone who cared to speak out against what was happening Explaining the social and civil workings of the Reformation has got to be MacCulloch s strongest suit The book is chocked full with social details and facts In fact it can become overwhelming going back and forth between minute details all over Europe One may even say that this book represents MacCulloch s attempt to interpret what is seen popularly as a religiousdivine movement in terms strictly as a civilsocial movementAreligious biasPerhaps the book s greatest deficit is lack of the author s eye to God s providence the absence of true belief and lack of love for his subject Take not my words for it At the beginning of the book MacCulloch notes his passing indifference to any one sect of Christianity and hints at his removed coolness to the religion as a whole He retains a warm affection for uaint memories of the Church of England but excuses himself from actual adherence to any dogma This attitude comes off in his retelling of the history of the Reformation a story in which nothing very good on either side Catholic or Protestant is mentioned as measured in religious civil moral academic or economic terms The majority of his narrative varies from mild amusement to uninvited criticism the church on either side in the West was in a series of civil blunders moral failings intolerance greed ignorance insincerity superstition soft exploitation power grabs and impious compromise So subtle but persistent is MacCulloch s detached air one gets the felling that not even the Church believed in Christianity The church could neither tolerate nor understand itself the civil or natural world nor even other churches such as the Eastern Orthodox 1400s Muslims however who invaded slaughtered and conuered formerly Christian Eastern lands receive such warm treatment as follows By comparison the Turks were remarkably tolerant of non Muslim faith communities once they had taken Constantinople and adapted its greatest church of Hagia Sophia as a magnificent mosue they did much to enhance the Patriarch of Constantinople s position against his various rivals in the eastern Churches considering this a good way of controlling their Christian subjects When eastern scholars fled west after Constantinople s fall western Christians showed a notable lack of interest in finding out about Orthodox theology and liturgy they really only esteemed these refugees for the hitherto unknown classical manuscripts that they might bring It was not surprising that many eastern Christians were willing to acuiesce in Ottoman rule and preserve their faith intact than to accept help on very uneual terms from western Europeans Notice the Muslims were remarkably tolerant they adapted the Hagia Sophia They didn t invade slaughter conuest destroy pillage overthrow They adapted Christians in the West however didn t even care to welcome fleeing Eastern Christians But MacCulloch does not address why if the Turks were so tolerant and adapting Christians were fleeing Luck vs ProvidenceInstead of God s providence mentioned above MacCulloch sees luck at play in history There were many elements of luck which came together in Luther s position in Wittenberg The hand of God almighty is replaced with sociological developments to explain the Reformation in a sort of inexorable sense it arose as the natural evolution of society at the time Ehrman esue textual criticism and erudite mockeryMacCulloch thinks little of the middle ages trans. Eligious battles of priests monarchs scholars and politicians from the zealous Martin Luther and his Ninety Five Theses to the polemical John Calvin to the radical Igantius Loyola from the tortured Thomas Cranmer to the ambitious Philip IIDrawing together the many st.