Cover image for Luther : man between God and the Devil
Luther : man between God and the Devil
Oberman, Heiko Augustinus.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Luther. English
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
xx, 380 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Luther.

Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR325 .O2713 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Oberman, formerly of Harvard and the University of Tubingen, and now at the U. of Arizona, is one of the foremost authorities on Luther, and this is his nearly-definitive biography of the central figure of the Protestant Reformation. He portrays Luther in the context of his times, analyzing both his state of mind and his society. First published in Germany in 1982, the biography later won the Historischer Sachbuchpreis, a German "super-prize" for the best history published during a ten-year period. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

History professor Oberman is one of the foremost authorities on Martin Luther in the world. Finally, seven years after its publication in Germany, an English translation of his major work brings his informed perspective to a wider audience. Oberman insightfully posits that to understand Luther the reformer is to first realize he was a medieval man for whom Satan was as real as God and human. By placing Luther back into the context of his own age, Oberman strips away any simplistic, post-Enlightenment notions of Luther as the savior of humanity from the darkest obscurantism of the Catholic Church. In truth, Luther saw each person locked in a profound struggle between God and the devil, with himself as an instrument of God put on Earth to save the human soul. A triumph of scholarship that brings Luther to life in all of his furious, outspoken, and violent passion. To be indexed. --Allen Weakland

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Oberman's startling portrait of Martin Luther, we meet an obstinate monk of volcanic temperament, for whom Christ and the Devil were equally real. ``Luther proclaimed the Last Days, not the modern age,'' asserts this University of Arizona history professor. The rebellious monk, we learn, called himself doctor, preacher, or professor, but never ``reformer,'' and never spoke of his movement as the ``Reformation.'' His achievement lay in ``horizontalizing'' Christian ethics by proclaiming that good works are crucial for survival in a threatened world. This weighty study gives full attention to aspects of Luther's career that other biographers have sought to minimize, such as his savage attacks on Jews and his scatological invective against the Devil. Oberman brings us closer to the real Luther. Illustrated. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Oberman believes that we can best understand Martin Luther as a man of the Middle Ages who believed that he was literally involved in a mortal struggle with the devil incarnate and that the pope was the Antichrist of the Last Days. The original German edition of this brilliant, sympathetic psychobiography of the father of the Reformation won the Historischer Sachbuchpreis, a special prize given the outstanding historical work of the decade 1975-85. Walliser-Schwarzbart's English translation is smooth and unobtrusive, and the illustrations supplement the text admirably. Highly recommended for readers willing to meet Oberman's intellectual and theological challenges.-- Richard S. Watts, San Bernardino Cty. Lib., Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Oberman, past director of the Institute for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Tubingen and presently director of the Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies at the University of Arizona, is an internationally renowned scholar whose numerous books belong in all academic libraries. This study is a translation of Oberman's Luther: Mensch zwischen Gott und Teufel (Berlin, 1982), winner, in 1985, of the Historischer Sachbuchpreis for the outstanding historical publication of the decade. This excellent translation retains both Oberman's lively style and his substantive exposition of Luther. The volume is further enhanced by more than 60 illustrations, a chronological outline of Luther's life in its historical context, and subject and name indexes. Equally at home in historical studies, the history of ideas, and theology, Oberman is able to facilitate contemporary understanding of, and dialogue with, Luther precisely because he refuses to modernize him. "We can encounter Luther only where he was convinced he stood and not where he approximates the temper of our time." No academic library should be without this volume. -C. Lindberg, Boston University