Book Review: Protestants

Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution by Steven Ozment

I was loaned this book, and enjoyed it.  It’s popular currently (and perhaps always) to interpret the past in the light of present.  Perhaps it’s impossible to truly do otherwise to at least some extent, since historians are products of their time even when examining a very different time.

In our current Western culture that devalues and is highly skeptical of Christianity (ironic, given how many people claim to be spiritual), historians have taken to reinterpreting the Reformation not so much as a spiritual matter but a political, social, or economic one.  And while all of those certainly have roles to play, Ozment’s main intent is to demonstrate that it really was first and foremost a spiritual revolution.

To do this Ozment draws from primary source documents – woodblock prints that were popular at the time to quickly summarize and drive home key points, as well as excerpts from letters and other materials written by ordinary people rather than the political and religious movers and shakers.

At times the book can bog down in these references, but overall it moves well and is accessible to a broad range of readers and interests,  whether cultural, historical, or theological.  Ozment’s writing style is engaging throughout.




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