It still takes a major effort of historical imagination to enter the minds of those who lived during the Reformation Era, who were willing to suffer martyrdom or martyr others for what we would regard as minor doctrinal differences. These 36 lectures are designed to take you inside the minds of those who supported the Reformation and those who resisted it. They cover the three broad religious traditions that endured or arose during these years: Roman Catholicism, both as it existed on the cusp of the Reformation and as it changed to meet the Protestant challenge; Protestantism, meaning the forms approved by political authorities, such as Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Anglicanism; and "radical" Protestantism, meaning the forms often at odds with political authorities, such as Anabaptism. The goal: to understand historically the theological and devotional aspects of each of these three broad traditions on its own terms and to grasp the overall ramifications of religious conflict for the subsequent course of modern Western history.
Along the way you'll encounter the era's many influential figures, including: Erasmus, Martin Luther, Charles V, Henry VIII, Ignatius Loyola, John Calvin, and Menno Simons. Professor Gregory also raises questions that any student of the period must ponder. Was the late medieval Church vigorous or, as Martin Luther and others came to insist, horribly corrupt? How do the events of the Reformation reveal the shifting balance between religious and secular authorities? Did the Reformation succeed or fail? Ultimately, the long-term payoff of these lecture series is a better understanding of the relationship between the world of early modern Europe - and the modern world to which it gave rise.
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Professor Gregory is an amazing lecturer, no contest, the audio edition wins hands down! That said, the print/pdf version is incredibly useful to recap, to revise!
The structure Professor Gregory set this lectures in. Should my attention flag for a bit -- which it sometimes did, albeit only when something unrelated to the book distracted me - his repeated recaps at the beginning & end of each lecture were very helpful reminders, and I'd then go back to a missed bit for a proper re-listen! This "story" is in and of itself incredibly "exciting," the stuff of human "high drama" often only known to the public via television series (aka art imitating life). As well, at least for me personally, It's pivotal to understand the past in order to better comprehend the present, how these events & trends have come to shape our own world as well.
What I most like about lecture structure is comparative presentation & analysis. Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Evangelism, i.e. the evolution of a united Christianity towards pluralism of faiths in the early-Modern Era has a deep contemporary socio-political-historical context. It's all quite fascinating, looking back on it all from our times. Professor Gregory follows each trend individually in multiple consecutive lectures, then catches up on the same vis-a-vis all the others. Then, towards the end, he brings all these diverse threads together in a brilliant analytical summary focusing on their impact more broadly speaking.
What I find most intellectually stimulating is multiple times Professor Gregory presents changes as they were likely to have been felt, experienced by the contemporary public, vs how we might see & reflect upon them with historical hindsight, through the lens of our contemporary "values" perspective. Wish I had Dr Gregory as one of my history professors in college!
I stumbled into this lecture series quite by accident & and have so enjoyed it, not to mentioned learned so much from it that I'm immediately following it up with another in this lecture series, "American Religious History"! Well done Audible!
Very balanced and informative.