Katharina and Martin Luther

I would propose an estimation that most Christians with a sense of Christian history or just history in general would know that 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther published his 95 Theses, thus sparking the Reformation. (Many believe he actually nailed them to the door of the church in Wittenberg.) With this 500th anniversary, of course, arrives a number of books on the event and the personalities involved. Almost all of these volume focus on Luther or the Reformation. Very few tell the story of the personal life of Luther, specifically his marriage to Katharina.

katarina-martin-lutherThat void has been masterfully filled by Michelle DeRusha with her latest volume Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk. It is a publication of Baker Books. She is also the author of 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.

As expressed in her Preface, DeRusha spent hours of painstaking and intense research to produce a factual account of the lives of the Luther’s. But this book is more than a collection of historical facts gathered together in chronological order; it is a love story. DeRusha has expertly told the story of how Martin and Katharina evolved a marriage of convenience into a marriage of love and respect.

She skillfully moves back and forth between the lives of Martin and Katharina until the two unite in marriage and then continues the narrative by demonstrating how Katharina efficiently ran the household while Martin was involved with theological battles. It’s a fascinating story and DeRusha’s style makes the reading move along at a brisk pace.

Here is my recommendation for this book: Read it as soon as you possibly can. It will greatly enhance your appreciation for the personalities involved in the Reformation especially the woman behind the man. Surely it will also motivate you to go further into the history of our faith.

Thanks, Michelle.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Baker Books for a fair and honest review.

Advertisements

Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature

Let’s begin with the basics. Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature: An Exegetical Handbook is the latest in an eight volume series on Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis edited by David M. Howard Jr. This volume is written by Richard A. Taylor, senior professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. It is published by Kregel Publications under Kregel Academic.interpreting-apocalyptic-literature

Suffice it to say that Apocalyptic Literature is a genre of the written word that is unfrequently considered, although according to the author, it is one that is now gaining attention. It would be fair to say that the reason for the lack of consideration is that it is hard to define. This is even admitted by the author, “Of all the literary genres employed in the Bible, none is more difficult to define than the apocalyptic genre. Scholars have not found it easy to reach a consensus on what exactly is meant by the world apocalyptic.” (p.27) In a basic but useful Glossary at the end of the book Taylor provides his definition: “Ancient literature that contains a significant proportion of those features that define an apocalypse, whether or not the writing in question itself fully qualifies as an apocalypse.”

With that dilemma to consider the problem of how to interpret the genre becomes a daunting task. What are the features that define an apocalypse? What if the writing does not qualify as an apocalypse? Must we then assign it to another genre? The questions begin to multiply. Nevertheless, attempting to tackle these questions, Taylor does an admirable job. But let me warn you, it is intense reading.

Perhaps the most useful chapter is “Preparing for Interpretation of Apocalyptic Literature.” (ch.3) Taylor provides several sections that are applicable to interpreting any genre of literature. Interesting also are the final two chapters in which the author moves from the theoretical to the practical dealing with Daniel 7 and 8 and Joel 2.28-32. These discussions provide some application to the theory.

By admission Taylor states that this volume is geared to scholars and seminary students. He is most certainly correct. It may also find use with a pastor preaching in this genre. This is not a volume to be picked up for light reading.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Kregel Publications for a fair an honest review.