Great people of history often have myths added to their lives. Such was the case with Luther. Malessa looks at many familiar stories about Luther and tests their truth.
I appreciate the work Malessa has done. Luther was very prolific and his complete works totaled some 80,000 pages. With that much material, one could claim almost anything about Luther. Malessa has attempted to separate myth from fact, even though he admits he has not been able to do so completely. (9)
While this book is not a biography, it is very informative. Malessa really helped me understand the medieval situation and the beliefs of the time. That was good for putting Luther's sayings into the context of that era.
The section I appreciated the most was the one on indulgences. Malessa identified Luther's real concern on the issue and I realized I had had a wrong understanding of the situation. I also found out that Origen of Alexandria (third century) developed the idea of purgatory in the afterlife. I also found out how “Protestants” came about – not from Luther. And he probably didn't throw the inkwell at the devil. That's just a bit of what I learned from this book.
I recommend this book to those who want a better understanding of Luther and what he contributed (and did not contribute) to the Reformation. I really like Malessa's writing style. It is very personable and not at all scholastic. He's got a good sense of humor too.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Andreas Malessa is a theologian, author, and lyricist, most recently for the musical Amazing Grace. He and his wife live near Stuttgart, Germany, and have two grown daughters.
Kregel Publications, 168 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.