Author: Heiko A. Oberman
Publisher: Image Books
Genre: Church History/Biography
First published in 1982 Heiko A. Oberman offers a much needed German perspective of Martin Luther. Oberman sees Luther shaped by medieval theology more than we often realize. Luther, Oberman argues, sees all of history as a battle between God and the Devil. Luther finds himself engaged in this battle against the devil (often personified in popery). Oberman provides an interesting perspective on the life of Luther.
What I Liked:
Even for those that have read numerous works on Luther there is so much great information in this biography that it serves as a real page turner. I think Oberman offers a view of Luther and the Reformation that helps to balance who the man truly was. I always dislike it in biographies when the author tries to rescue the person from his own humanity. What makes Luther so great is that he was definitely human. Thankfully, Oberman allows the Reform to remain a man in need of reformation.
What I Disliked:
Even though, it is a helpful perspective I think at times Oberman may overplay the medieval theology of Luther. At times I think he overstates his case. There are occasions when some quotes seem to not support his position of Luther. But I am not anywhere near a Luther scholar so it’s quite possible that I’m totally off.
Oberman can be a tad wordy (I think about 300 pages would have been great for this book), and a little repetitive. There are some biographies that read a little smoother and stick in your mind a little better.
Should You Buy It?
This is not a sanitized biography of Luther. You get the man warts and all. And for that reason I heartily recommend it. Balance it with other works by other authors that may cast Luther in a tad different light, but nonetheless, this book needs to be considered by all that want to know about Luther. For an introductory study this may not be the one you want to read, but you certainly would not be disappointed if you want to tackle it.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars