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The Reformation: Its History and Legacy (December 2017): Other Reformers

By Matthew Hill

Other Reformers

The ideas of the Reformation are inseparable from its people. Outside of Luther and Calvin, other reformers deserve scholarly attention. This brief section will serve to direct students to key biographies.

If Alfred North Whitehead was correct that all Western philosophy is merely a footnote to Plato, surely all modern English versions of the Bible are a footnote to William Tyndale. The shape and form of the modern English language owes an enormous debt to Tyndale, the first person to translate the Bible into English from the Greek and Hebrew languages. Daniel Daniell’s William Tyndale: A Biography provides a much-needed, up-to-date biography of an essential but overlooked figure of the Reformation.

The Scottish Reformation is inseparable from the figure of John Knox, and the best biography is Jane Dawson’s John Knox. Based partially on recently discovered letters penned between Knox and his friend Christopher Dawson, the biography reveals a more colorful Knox than previous works have portrayed. Even more insightfully, Dawson illuminates how Knox’s influence extended outside Scotland, a fact often ignored in other works. 

G.R. Potter’s Zwingli is solid starting point for Huldrych Zwingli, who sparred with Luther over the doctrine of real presence in the Eucharist, and was a key leader in the Swiss Reformation. The life of Philipp Melanchthon, who authored the first systematic theology text of the Lutheran Reformers, is adequately covered by Gregory B. Graybill in The Honeycomb Scroll: Philipp Melanchthon at the Dawn of the Reformation. Martin Greschat’s Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times is a good study of the German Protestant Reformer, who pastored in Strasbourg, was an associate of Calvin, and was likely the most well traveled of the Reformers. Thomas Cranmer: A Life, by Diarmaid MacCulloch, is a powerful study of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who authored the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and helped secure Henry VIII’s annulment from Catherine of Aragon. 

Works Cited