2017 marks the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther posting his “Disputation for Clarifying the Power of Indulgences"--or more commonly known as 95 Theses--to the Wittenberg Church door. Of course, as any student of history knows, this event marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Although the actual date of the anniversary doesn’t come until later this year, today we are releasing a number of resources designed to further study and discussion of Luther and the movement that resulted from his dispute with the church.
Regardless of which side of the Reformation you land on, these resources will give you a better understanding and grasp of Luther’s thought and the events that followed.
To really understand Martin Luther, one must read him in his own words. But where to begin? The most comprehensive series on Luther’s writings is in German and well over 100 volumes. And even the most complete English series has approximately 60 or so volumes and counting. Considering not all writings of any significant historical figure are equal, it can be easy to get lost among the important content and the minutia. The Annotated Luther series aims to bring the most important writings of the Reformer in new translations along with annotations and other helps to a modern audience.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of The Annotated Luther in Accordance 12 for Windows.
Each volume of The Annotated Luther offers a fresh, modern translation of the Reformer’s writings with new introductions, annotations, textual notes, as well as illustrations, art, photos, maps and timelines. This series allows the reader to dive deep into Luther’s thought without having to discern the significant from the less-important content.
Volume 1: The Roots of Reform (Timothy J. Wengert, editor)
Volume 2: Word and Faith (Kirsi I. Stjerna, editor)
Volume 3: Church and Sacraments (Paul W. Robinson, editor)
Volume 4: Pastoral Writings (Mary Jane Haemig, editor)
Volume 5: Christian Life in the World (Hans J. Hillerbrand, editor)
The Annotated Luther Series (5 Volumes)
Regular Price $195
Another excellent way to understand Martin Luther is to read a good biography of him. This recent release, Resilient Reformer: The Life & Thought of Martin Luther, was initially begun by Lutheran scholar Timothy F. Lull before his unexpected death in 2003. Derek R. Nelson took Lull’s unfinished work and turned it into one of the most important biographies of Luther in recent years.
Certainly, there are many biographies of Luther out there, both good and bad. Resilient Reformer, though covering all of Luther’s life, focuses on his character traits that led him through significant crises in his life. In saying this, the writers do not brush over the personal shortcomings of Luther, noting the seemingly paradoxical state of being “sinner and righteous at the same time” as Luther often characterized Christians in this life.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Resilient Reformer in Accordance Mobile for iOS.
As noted in the preface, there are already books about Luther than tell the story of his dramatic life, and there are plenty of books that examine his theology. This particular volume attempts to tell “the dramatic story as theological story, giving due attention to both Luther’s work and his context.” This is definitely a not-to-be-missed treatment of the great Reformer!
The Resilient Reformer
Regular Price $43.90
Often heard is the lament that modern Christians do not know church history. Truthfully, though, there are rarely good treatments of Christian history suitable for church use. An exception to this is Timothy Wengert’s guide to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, aimed specifically for “students, interested laypersons, pastors, and their congregants to prepare for 2017 [the anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation] and beyond” (preface).
As a corollary to The Annotated Luther, this title introduces the content and the impact of Luther’s 95 Theses on the Church at a level that is accessible to most interested readers. The book begins by setting the historical context with Luther’s historical situation and explains significant concepts such as the practice of selling indulgences in Luther’s day. The content of the 95 Theses itself comes with ample textual notes explaining content that may not be immediately apparent to a modern general audience. Two other documents are also included: the cover letter to the 95 Theses directed to the Archbishop Albrecht of Mainz as well as the 1518 Sermon on Indulgences and Grace. The sermon was Luther’s “popular” version of the 95 Theses aimed at lay readers and hearers and made Luther into a household name within a very short time.
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Ninety-Five Theses: With Introduction, Commentary & Study Guide in Accordance 12 for Windows.
Consider using Wengert’s guide to the 95 Theses as a four-week small group study in your church. In addition to the content itself, there is a study guide for each of the four sections as well as resources for further reading for those who want to take the next step and study beyond the scope of this book. As with most recent Accordance titles, page numbers are included for use in groups of mixed digital and print editions.
Martin Luther's 95 Theses
Regular Price $14.90
Most subjects are better understood when visualized, and this is certainly true of the history of the Protestant Reformation across Europe! Rich in both images and content, this title by Tim Dowly may just be the missing piece in your complete understanding of the Reformation.
The Atlas of the European Reformations is a completely new resource without parallel on the subject. This title features over 60 maps, plus an extensive multi-image timeline and many other images. Four multipart sections cover the following eras:
Before the Reformation
Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation
Early Modern Europe
Click/tap the image above for a larger view of Atlas of the European Reformations in Accordance 12 for Macintosh.
Included is an extensive bibliography divided by subject, plus a geographical index (gazetteer), and a subject index (although with Accordance, you can search for any word or phrase regardless of whether it is in the index or not).
Atlas of the European Reformations
Regular Price $24.90
These days, any new Bible commentary must find a way to distinguish itself. For those looking at the new Fortress Commentary on the Bible, released today for the Accordance Library, I can happily say that this commentary finds its distinctive place among the many other scholarly treatments of the Bible.
The Fortress Commentary on the Bible, originally published in two volumes in print and comprising around 1750 pages, is written by a broad diversity of scholars from Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and other traditions. Covering the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament, the Bible is broken up into sense units larger than treatments in traditional multivolume commentaries, and the writers provide information about each passage in answer to the following three questions:
- The Text in Its Ancient Context. What did the text probably mean in its original historical and cultural context?
- The Text in the Interpretive Tradition. How have centuries of reading and interpreting shaped our understanding of the text?
- The Text in Contemporary Discussion. What are the unique challenges and interpretive questions the text addresses for readers and hearers today?
Personally, I appreciate this approach because so many commentaries neglect one or more of these categories. As I’ve stated elsewhere, in recent years those first two questions above have become primary concerns of mine when trying to understand a biblical passage and teach it to others. For my use, I could see turning to the Fortress Commentary first to gain an overview of the above three concerns before moving on to more technical commentaries that may or may not cover the same information.
In addition to covering Ancient Context, Interpretive Tradition, and Contemporary Discussion, the Fortress Commentary offers introduction to sections and books of the Bible as well as a number of articles on understanding and interpreting the Bible in the modern world.
Although originally published in print in two volumes, Accordance users will be glad to know that we have included both in one module. This allows for searching for words and concepts throughout the entire Fortress Commentary at once. Moreover, the Accordance developers have carefully scrutinized the text of the commentary and tagged all content according to one of the following search fields: Reference, Titles, English Content, Scripture, Greek Content, Hebrew Content, Transliteration, Bibliography, Authors, and Page Numbers. This kind of detailed tagging allows the Accordance reader to find the exact information needed quickly and efficiently.