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The European Reformation by Euan Cameron

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The Bottom Line

A quality history of the Reformation in Europe, but one which focuses on the theological rather than politico-military impact of the changes.
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Pros

  • No theological background needed.
  • Covers all of Europe.

Cons

  • Not much on the politics and wars.
  • For higher levels students.

Description

  • 564 pages including bibliography and maps.
  • Published by Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 0198730934

Guide Review - The European Reformation by Euan Cameron

Euan Cameron’s The European Reformation - 422 pages of dense argument and explanation, with almost a further hundred of notes – is suitable for the degree level student or the serious reader, being too complex for the needs of younger students. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a perfect introduction to the subject, because Cameron spends almost a full quarter of the book on context, explaining the state of religion in Europe pre-1517. Very little existing knowledge of Christianity is assumed, although the details can still be a little confusing.

The remaining text is taken up by a mixture of narrative and thematic discussion. The basic phases of the Reformation across the whole of Europe are explained but, while the political developments are covered, the book is mainly concerned with the social and theological changes wrought by Luther, Zwingli and their followers. While readers after a more earthly history will be disappointed, Cameron ensures that his audience is fully equipped to tackle any follow up reading on specialist topics. While Cameron examines the views of opposing theories on the Reformation, he promotes his own: that by including the laity in the theological debate for the first time, an early consensus of theologian and laity was achieved by ‘flattery’.

Overall, this is an excellent textbook for the older student/reader, providing a solid grounding in the subject, but one which will leave readers seeking out further works on the physical struggle between old and new church. Alternatively, this is a perfect book for those already aware of the wars and persecution, and now after the religious background.

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