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About the Author

The late Heiko A. Oberman was professor of medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation history at the University of Arizona.


Oberman believes that we can best understand Martin Luther as a man of the Middle Ages who believed that he was literally involved in a mortal struggle with the devil incarnate and that the pope was the Antichrist of the Last Days. The original German edition of this brilliant, sympathetic psychobiography of the father of the Reformation won the Historischer Sachbuchpreis, a special prize given the outstanding historical work of the decade 1975-85. Walliser-Schwarzbart's English translation is smooth and unobtrusive, and the illustrations supplement the text admirably. Highly recommended for readers willing to meet Oberman's intellectual and theological challenges.-- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal.

"This remarkable study, combining learning, realism, and literary adroitness, brings us close to Luther. Above all, it conveys Luther's power: the intensity of his faith, the coherence of his thought, the force of his personality."-New Yorker

"This magnificent biography . . . is teeming with ideas and is altogether worthy of its great, gutsy subject."-Harry Reid, Glasgow Herald

"If the world is to gain from Luther it must turn to the real Luther-furious, violent, foul-mouthed, passionately concerned. Him it will find in Oberman's book, a labour of love."-G. R. Elton, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

"Oberman rivets attention on Luther as he was. He prods the reader to set aside views mediated by tradition and prejudice. Yet, paradoxically, by locking Luther in the past and showing us our distance from him, he unlocks a truer Luther for the present; passionate commitment and dynamism are freshly provocative. Oberman's hallmark is to combine rigorous historical scholarship with theological sensitivity. The book is a milestone in Reformation studies."-Susan Moor, Scotsman

"Oberman makes such good sense of the man that all other attempts to explain him, as a maniac, or a martyr to constipation, or as a saint, seem trivial by comparison."-Eric Christiansen, Spectator

"The late Heiko Oberman was a formidable Reformation scholar and Luther's biography, originally published 24 years ago, makes a welcome re-appearance in paperback. . . . This is a better account of the 16th-century Luther than of his legacy. The author presents us with a man who saw this world as a battlefield over which God and the devil fought. That is the arena we must enter if we want to understand the man who helped shape our modern world."-Derek Wilson, BBC History Magazine

"When Martin Luther challenged the ruling powers of his time, the movement he initiated changed the social, political, intellectual and religious structures of western history. But what did Luther intend, and what did he actually accomplish? Heiko Oberman, internationally recognized as one of the most distinguished historians of the Reformation, addresses these questions in this readable book. Presenting a vivid portrait of a man too often portrayed as a saint or a devil, Oberman shows how Luther-passionate, courageous and stubborn-simultaneously aroused fierce loyalty in his admirers and violent antagonism among his enemies."-Elaine Pagels

"This is the biography of Luther for our time by the world's foremost authority."-Steven Ozment, Harvard University

In Oberman's startling portrait of Martin Luther, we meet an obstinate monk of volcanic temperament, for whom Christ and the Devil were equally real. ``Luther proclaimed the Last Days, not the modern age,'' asserts this University of Arizona history professor. The rebellious monk, we learn, called himself doctor, preacher, or professor, but never ``reformer,'' and never spoke of his movement as the ``Reformation.'' His achievement lay in ``horizontalizing'' Christian ethics by proclaiming that good works are crucial for survival in a threatened world. This weighty study gives full attention to aspects of Luther's career that other biographers have sought to minimize, such as his savage attacks on Jews and his scatological invective against the Devil. Oberman brings us closer to the real Luther. Illustrated. (Feb.)

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