In Oberman's startling portrait of Martin Luther, we meet an obstinate monk of volcanic temperament, for whom Christ and the Devil were equally real. "Luther proclaimed the Last Days, not the modern age," asserts this University of Arizona history professor. The rebellious monk, we learn, called himself doctor, preacher, or professor, but never "reformer," and never spoke of his movement as the "Reformation." His achievement lay in "horizontalizing" Christian ethics by proclaiming that good works are crucial for survival in a threatened world. This weighty study gives full attention to aspects of Luther's career that other biographers have sought to minimize, such as his savage attacks on Jews and his scatological invective against the Devil. Oberman brings us closer to the real Luther.
The late Heiko A. Oberman was professor of medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation history at the University of Arizona.