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2017 is the 500th anniversary for the Reformation, built upon (but not limited to) when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.

Thomas Kidd has already posted a number of recommended books on the Reformation from fellow historians and an interview with Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard on commemorating the Reformation.

The upcoming TGC national conference will have several sessions—plenary and breakout—devoted to various aspects of the Reformation.

And of course publishers are going to unleash a torrent of new books this year related to all facets of the Reformation—especially Martin Luther. For example, Crossway (where I work) will be publishing works from a major systematic summary of the theology of the Reformers to a creative Reformation ABCs for young readers to a new spiritual biography of Luther, written by Herman Selderhuis, the renowned Reformation historian who directs Refo500, is something of a clearinghouse for many events happening around the world this year.

Carl Trueman—the Paul Woolley Chair of Church History and professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, as well as the author of Luther on the Christian Life—has taught on the Reformation for over two decades, both at the university and seminary. Tomorrow, at my other TGC blog, “Between Two Worlds,” I am going to post the syllabus and videos from a Reformation course he recently taught at Master’s Seminary. But here I wanted to share the bibliography that he gives his students. The list is a combination of primary and secondary sources. It does not include the very newest books on the market but rather focuses on established texts.

In terms of what he assigns his students to read, he uses Denis Janz’s A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts With Introductions as a basis for many of his primary reading assignments.

Regarding a basic textbook, he has written the following elsewhere:

The two basic books I recommend are: Euan Cameron, The European Reformation; and Carter Lindberg, The European ReformationsNeither book is cheap but both are jam packed with helpful information, the products of two very learned and thoughtful reformation scholars at the top of their game.

Of the two, Lindberg is probably of more interest to most readers, as it has more theology. The title is also very helpful, highlighting at the outset the fact that what we typically think of as a singular event was actually a collection of different, albeit connected, happenings.  It serves as my primary class textbook.

Cameron, however, covers all those areas which I want to assume in my lectures—literacy rates, economic data, social history etc—but am not interested in pursuing in class in any great detail.

Some years ago, I switched Lindberg for Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation: A History. The students loved this book as a read but found it less helpful as a reference textbook and so I switched back to Lindberg the following year. MacCulloch is one of the best Reformation historians alive and this is what I would call a brilliant, scholarly beach read—well-constructed explanatory narrative history, rooted in profound and accurate scholarship, laid out in the grand epic style.  My guess is that readers wanting a good, scholarly, readable history of the Reformation—and one which will not break the bank—should buy this.

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  1. General
  2. Medieval Background
  3. Martin Luther
  4. Huldrych Zwingli
  5. John Calvin and Geneva
  6. The Radical Reformation
  7. The British Reformations
  8. The Catholic Reformation
  9. The Development of Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century
  10. Puritanism: Politics and Theology
  11. Other Resources

1. General

  • David Bagchi, The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology
  • Kirsten Birkett, The Essence of the Reformation
  • Euan Cameron, The European Reformation
  • —- The Sixteenth Century
  • Owen Chadwick, The Reformation
  • Rudolph Heinze, Reform and Conflict
  • Carter Lindberg, The Reformation Theologians
  • Diarmaid Macculloch, The Reformation
  • Andrew Pettegree (ed), The Reformation World

Two Reformation treatises of particular interest in the history of pastoral practice during this period are:

  • Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor
  • Martin Bucer, Concerning the True Care of Souls

2. Medieval Background

  • Marcia Colish, Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 400-1400
  • Heiko Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology
  • —- The Dawn of the Reformation
  • —- Forerunners of the Reformation
  • W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages

3. Martin Luther

Primary Sources

  • Martin Luther, edited by John Dillenberger
  • Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, edited by Timothy Lull
  • Letters of Spiritual Counsel, edited by Theodore G. Tappert
  • Works, 55 volumes, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al.

Secondary Sources

  • Roland Bainton, Here I Stand
  • Martin Brecht, Martin Luther (3 vols)
  • Robert Kolb, Martin Luther: Confessor of the Faith
  • Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand, The Genius of Luther’s Theology
  • Bernhard Lohse, The Theology of Martin Luther
  • Donald McKim, The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther
  • Richard Marius, Martin Luther
  • Martin Marty, Martin Luther: A Life
  • Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and Devil
  • David C. Steinmetz, Luther in Context
  • Timothy Wengert, Law and Gospel

[See also this more recent post by Trueman on biographies of Luther.]


4. Huldrych Zwingli

Primary Sources

  • Early Writings, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson
  • Writings, 2 vols, edited by Edward J. Furcha
  • Zwingli and Bullinger, edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley

Secondary Sources

  • Ulrich Gäbler, Huldrych Zwingli: His Life and Work
  • W. Locher, Zwingli’s Thought: New Perspectives
  • R. Potter, Zwingli
  • P. Stephens, The Theology of Huldrych Zwingli
  • —- Zwingli: An Introduction to his Thought

5. John Calvin and Geneva

Primary Sources

  • Institutes (1536), edited by Ford Lewis Battles
  • Institutes (1541), edited by Elsie Anne McKee
  • Institutes (1559). Various editions available. Most popular is probably that of Battles, but Beveridge is arguably a better translation.

The commentaries were translated in the nineteenth century under the auspices of the Calvin Translation Society. The New Testament commentaries were retranslated in the twentieth century under the general oversight of T. F. Torrance.

  • Letters and Tracts, Calvin Translation Society
  • The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, edited by A.N.S. Lane
  • A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply, edited by John C. Olin
  • Registers of the Consistory of Geneva in the Time of Calvin, edited by Robert Kingdon

Secondary Sources

  • Wulfert de Greef, Wulfert, The Writings of John Calvin
  • Alexandre Ganoczy, The Young Calvin
  • Bruce Gordon, Calvin
  • David W. Hall and Peter A. Lillback, A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes
  • Anthony N. S. Lane, A Reader’s Guide to Calvin’s Institutes
  • Donald McKim (ed), The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin
  • Robert Kingdon, Adultery and Divorce in Calvin’s Geneva
  • Richard A. Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin
  • William G. Naphy, Calvin and the Consolidation of the Reformation in Geneva
  • H. L. Parker, John Calvin
  • —- Calvin’s Preaching
  • Herman Selderhuis, John Calvin: A Pilgrim Life
  • —- (ed.), The Calvin Handbook
  • —- Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms
  • Williston Walker, John Calvin
  • François Wendel, Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thought

6. The Radical Reformation

Primary Sources

  • Early Anabaptist spirituality: Selected writings, edited by Daniel Liechty
  • The Collected Works of Thomas Muntzer, edited by Peter Matheson

Secondary Sources

  • Claus-Peter Clasen, Anabaptism: A Social HistoryR. Estep, The Anabaptist Story
  • Meic Pearse, The Great Restoration
  • James M. Stayer, Anabaptism and the Sword

7. The British Reformations

Primary Sources

All the printed texts relative to the English, Scottish, and Irish reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are available for download from Early English books Online (EEBO).

In addition, many works of the English Reformers were republished in the nineteenth century by the Parker Society (partly as a response to the Catholic tendencies of the Oxford Movement). These are also available in the library.

The works of John Knox were collected and republished in six volumes in the nineteenth century.

Secondary Sources

  • Margaret Aston, The King’s Bedpost
  • G. Dickens, The English Reformation
  • Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars
  • David Loades (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer
  • Rosalind Marshall, John Knox
  • Jasper Ridley, John Knox

8. The Catholic Reformation

Primary Sources

  • The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, edited by H. J. Schroeder (these are also available online).
  • Ignatius of Loyola, Personal Writings: Reminiscences, Diary, Letters Including Spiritual Exercises
  • Blaise Pascal, Pensées
  • —- The Provincial Letters
  • Theophilus Gale, The True Idea of Jansenism

Secondary Sources

  • Eamon Duffy, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor
  • Hubert Jedin, A History of the Council of Trent, 2 vols.
  • Marvin O’Connell, Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart
  • John C. Olin, Catholic Reform

9. The Development of Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century

Confessional Materials

Most Reformed and Lutheran confessions are available on the web.

The best scholarly collections (Protestant and Catholic; in the original languages) are available in pdf from the Hekman Library’s Post-Reformation Digital Library.

Also worth consulting:

  • Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English translation, edited by James T. Dennison. Volumes 1 (1523–1552); volume 2 (1552–1566); volume 3 (1567–1599); volume 4 (1600–1693).
  • The Book of Concord, edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert

Major Writings

Most writings in the English language from this period are available on EEBO; many relevant Latin and foreign works are also available from the Hekman page. The English translation of the works of Arminius are also available here.

Project Wittenberg has many texts of relevance to the development of Lutheran thought and life.

Under the general editorship of R. Scott Clark, the Classic Reformed Theology series is producing new editions and translations of major sixteenth and seventeenth century texts.

Secondary Sources

  • Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation
  • Philip Benedict, Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed
  • Lyle D. Bierma, An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism
  • Nicolaas Gootjes, The Belgic Confession: Its History and Sources
  • Robert Kolb, Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, Hero: Images of the Reformer, 1520–1620
  • Robert Kolb and James A. Nestingen, Sources and Contexts of the Book of Concord
  • Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols.
  • Robert D. Preus, The Theology of Post-Reformation Lutheranism

10. Puritanism: Politics and Theology

Primary Sources

Again, most texts written by or against Puritans are available in pdf from EEBO.

The nineteenth century saw republication of the works of various Puritan writers, most notably John Owen, Thomas Goodwin, John Flavel, Thomas Watson, and Stephen Charnock. Many of these are available from publishers such as The Banner of Truth Trust, Sprinkle, and Soli Deo Gloria.

Secondary Sources

  • John Coffey and Paul H. C. Lim, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism
  • John Coffey, Politics, Religion, and the British Revolutions: the Mind of Samuel Rutherford
  • Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement
  • Crawford Gribben, The Irish Puritans
  • Susan Hardman Moore, Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home
  • Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England
  • Peter Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? Presbyterianism and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker
  • —- Moderate Puritans and the Elizabethan Church
  • Robert Letham, The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology in Historical Context
  • Anthony Milton, Catholic and Reformed: the Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640
  • Richard A. Muller and Rowland S. Ward, Scripture and Worship
  • Robert S. Paul, The Assembly of the Lord
  • Margo Todd, The Culture of Protestantism in Early Modern Scotland
  • Austin Woolrych, Britain in Revolution

11. Other Resources 

A good historian will always have a grasp of the wider social and cultural context. Thus, acquaintance with the literary, artistic and scientific culture of the times is helpful. The works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spenser, Montaigne, Erasmus, Thomas More and others are all worth consulting. Most are available in the public domain on the web.


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5 thoughts on “A Reformation Bibliography”

  1. What a fine list! The website for the Post-Reformation Digital Library should be updated: http://www.prdl.org

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Thanks!

  2. Brad Andrews says:

    Justin – how do we download books on EEBO? It requires a “WTS ID Number?” Just curious if you know. Thanks!

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      You have to have a subscription. If you are connected to an institution, they might have one.

  3. Joshua says:

    Nothing of the East…? Did not the “Reformers” reach out to the Orthodox for help…? Did not the Uniate Churches of the Levant Join themselves to Rome at this time…?

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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