Atlas of the European Reformations

9781451499698A new, definitive atlas of the European Reformations has been needed for many years. Now, in anticipation of the upcoming reformation anniversaries, Fortress Press is pleased to offer the Atlas of the European Reformations.

The Atlas of the European Reformations is newly built from the ground up. Featuring more than sixty brand new maps, graphics, and timelines, the atlas is a necessary companion to any study of the reformation era. Consciously written for students at any level, concise, helpful texts guide the experience and interpret the visuals. The volume is perfect for independent students, as well as those in structured courses.

The atlas is broken into four primary parts. “Before the Reformation” presents the larger political, religious, and economic context of Europe on the eve of the Reformation. “Reformation” presents the major contours of the Reformation, including Lutheran, Reformed, English, and Anabaptist movements. “Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation” provides extensive information on the reforming movements within Catholicism and the responses to other movements. Finally, “Early Modern Europe” sheds fresh light on the movement and implications of the reformation in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I first turned, in my examination of this volume, to the segment (2 pages) on Huldrych Zwingli and am quite pleased to report that Dowley gets Zwingli right – except for two points.  Dowley writes

… after his forced transfer to Einsiedeln… (p. 70).

It is incorrect to suggest that Zwingli was forced to leave Glarus for Einsiedeln.  It is true that his opposition to mercenary service made him unpopular with some in the town but the opposition wasn’t enough to force him out.  He left Glarus because he felt that he could accomplish nothing further there, not because he was commanded to do so.  And, in fact, he remained, officially, the Pastor at Glarus until he arrived in Zurich!

The second inaccuracy of Dowley’s presentation is his claim that

Luther’s writings and example helped convert Zwingli from criticism of corruption in the Church to a passionate Reformer who wanted to win Zurich to the Evangelical cause (p. 70).

This is of course the statement of the standard Lutheran claim that Zwingli only became a reformer because of Luther.  What this view fails to understand is that Zwingli was moving towards a Reformatory position in 1515 after the Battle of Marignano and that in 1516 he was already studying the Greek New Testament in an effort to return the Church to a more pure state.  Lutherans do love to imagine that Luther was the only person thinking about things and that all the world depends on him but that, of course, is historical nonsense.  Zwingli was working towards Reform before anyone had ever heard of Luther.

Otherwise, his misrepresentations of Zwingli aside, the volume at hand is a particularly helpful historical overview of the beginnings and spread of the various Reformations which commenced in Germany and Switzerland and spread to South and North America and Asia and elsewhere as well as the Counter-Reformation of Rome.

Dowley’s volume also covers the major players in the varieties of Reform including Bucer and Calvin and – naturally, Luther and Zwingli (as already noted).

The maps, photos, charts, and illustrations which comprise the bulk of the volume are really wonderfully done.  They are clear, and sharp, and precise.

The ‘suggested reading’ section is mildly inclusive and yet whilst it lists material specifically on Luther and Calvin as well as Loyola it lacks any volume particularly related to Zwingli.  Dowley’s Lutheran leaning bias is here on display again.

The index of maps is quite thorough and, at the same time, fairly bizarre.  What I mean by that is that under ‘Zurich’ Dowley has the following subjects: Anabaptists, Calvin (!), Christian Europe in 1600, Germany in 1618 (!), Jewish persecution, Lutheran Germany (!), Melanchthon and Reform (!), printing, and Swiss Reformation.   Astute readers will notice the glaring absence of ‘Zwingli’.  It’s quite odd, to be direct, that the index’s listing of things discussed in connection with Zurich would include mention of Calvin and Melanchthon but not Zwingli.  Especially given that the index entries under ‘Wittenberg’ include ‘Luther’ (and quite rightly).

Dowley is a good scholar but his particular interests and disinterests are on display in both the presentation of the text and in the layout of the index.  His research on Zwingli appears to be based only on a familiarity with secondary (Lutheran) sources and a lack of familiarity with Zwingli at first hand (through primary sources).

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, the book at hand is a quite useful historical tool so long as one realizes that, as is true of all books, the writer’s biases must be taken into account and proper supplementation provided by further, more inclusive research.

3 thoughts on “Atlas of the European Reformations

  1. whitefrozen 16 Nov 2015 at 2:29 pm

    NT Wright is all you need to read on the reformation

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    • Jim 16 Nov 2015 at 3:05 pm

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA- he knows less about the reformation than campbell knows about romans!

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