Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses caught Europe by storm and initiated the Reformation, which fundamentally transformed both the church and society. Yet by Luther’s own estimation, his translation of the Bible into German was his crowning achievement.
The Bible played an absolutely vital role in the lives, theology, and practice of the Protestant Reformers. In addition, the proliferation and diffusion of vernacular Bibles—grounded in the original languages, enabled by advancements in printing, and lauded by the theological principles of sola Scriptura and the priesthood of all believers—contributed to an ever-widening circle of Bible readers and listeners among the people they served.
This collection of essays from the 2016 Wheaton Theology Conference—the 25th anniversary of the conference—brings together the reflections of church historians and theologians on the nature of the Bible as “the people’s book.” With care and insight, they explore the complex role of the Bible in the Reformation by considering matters of access, readership, and authority, as well as the Bible’s place in the worship context, issues of theological interpretation, and the role of Scripture in creating both division and unity within Christianity.
On the 500th anniversary of this significant event in the life of the church, these essays point not only to the crucial role of the Bible during the Reformation era but also its ongoing importance as “the people’s book” today.
Part I: Access and Readership
1. Teaching the Church: Protestant Latin Bibles and Their Readers- Bruce Gordon
2. Scripture, the Priesthood of All Believers, and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14 – G. Sujin Pak
3. Learning to Read Scripture for Ourselves: The Guidance of Erasmus, Luther, and Calvin – Randall Zachman
4. The Reformation and Vernacular Culture: Wales as a Case Study – D. Densil Morgan
Part II: Transmission and Worship
5. The Reformation as Media Event – Read Mercer Schuchardt
6. The Interplay of Catechesis and Liturgy in the Sixteenth Century: Examples from the Lutheran and Reformed Traditions – John D. Witvliet
7. Word and Sacrament: The Gordian Knot of Reformation Worship – Jennifer Powell McNutt
Part III: Protestant-Catholic Dialogue
8. John Calvin’s Commentary on the Council of Trent – Michael Horton
9. The Bible and the Italian Reformation – Christopher Castaldo
10. Reading the Reformers After Newman – Carl Trueman
Part IV: The People’s Book Yesterday and Today
11. From the Spirit to the Sovereign to Sapiential Reason: A Brief History of Sola Scriptura – Paul C. H. Lim
12. Perspicuity and the People’s Book – Mark Labberton
When people of the stature of JB say things like “This valuable collection of essays from an excellent group of scholars does a superb job of covering topics ranging from Latin Bibles to vernacular culture, perspicuity, and reading the Reformers after Newman. A great mix of historical and theological material and a pleasure to read.” —Jon Balserak
And Karin Maag says “Sola Scriptura, ‘Scripture alone’: these words still resonate over the centuries since the early 1500s. No single scholar can do justice to the complex history of the Bible and its impact in the Reformation era. Fortunately, Jennifer Powell McNutt and David Lauber have assembled a top-notch team to provide a rich feast of insights on the Bible in the Reformation era and beyond. From regional studies to carefully crafted reflections on the Bible and authority or worship, this book offers timely guidance for all who want to understand the roots of Protestant engagement with Scripture.” —Karin Maag