I saw a selection of chapters at the ISD booth at SBL in San Antonio of this brand new volume and it’s something that I thought then as I looked through it – “This looks brilliant and it has fantastic illustrations as well.” The German edition is over 500 pages and the English version even longer.
The link above leads to a German description but don’t let that throw you. It has indeed just come out in English and the publisher has sent along a review copy.
Unlike many atlases this one performs the dual service of discussing locations along with the more famous residents of those particular locales. More specifically, when a city or town is described and historicized, the more important souls connected with the Reformation are also described and placed within their historical context.
So, for instance, when Basel is the subject of discussion not only is the city described but Oecolampadius and Erasmus are too. Bretten gets treated and naturally its treatment includes a description of Melanchthon. Cambridge and Cranmer, Copenhagen and Bugenhagen, Edinburgh and Knox, Prague and Hus and on and on it goes covering every city from Antwerp to Zurich, in alphabetical order.
But simple descriptions of places and important people aren’t the only materials included in this exceptional work; beautiful illustrations abound. So, for instance:
Turning, then, to one extensive excerpt: on page 97 Cambridge is the city in focus and Thomas Cranmer is the important personage associated with that city. Charlotte Methuen describes Cambridge in Cranmer’s day and then she turns to a discussion of Cranmer in the context of Henry VIII’s reign and then in the context of Edward VI’s and then, finally, in the context of Mary I’s.
Each city and each citizen discussed throughout the volume is brilliantly examined. Readers of the volume may be tempted to view it as a sort of encyclopedia given its alphabetical arrangement but make no mistake, readers will find themselves reading right on through the entire work without pausing beyond human necessity between chapters. Each chapter concludes with a very brief list of further readings and a very short list of websites related to the city discussed in each chapter.
I love this book. I love the font and the full color illustrations and I love the content and the astonishing scholarship on full display. There’s simply nothing like it on the market and all who are flocking to Reformation things this 500th anniversary of Luther’s Theses will do very well indeed if they make the effort necessary to read it. But then again it really is not as though effort is necessary. Instead, reading it is a pleasure and a delight.