The Protestant Reformation is one of the most significant events in the history of the church. It’s impossible to conceive of church life today without the denominations and expressions it spawned. Timothy George, quoting G. R. Elton, recognized this:
If there is a single thread running through the whole story of the Reformation, it is the explosive and renovating and often disintegrating effect of the Bible. (11)
In chapter after fascinating chapter, George explores the 16th century revival of scripture (thanks to the printing press and vernacular translations) as well as the role that scripture had in the lives of the leading reformers.
Having studied Luther and Calvin in seminary, I was reasonably aware of the role of scripture in their ministry. It was George’s description of Erasmus that fascinated me. I had understood him only as a weak-willed almost-reformer. George described him as a devoted scholar who produced a faithful Greek text of scripture (which Luther’s German translation is indebted to). His pacifism and commitment to church unity is inspirational.
A pacifist in an age of war and violence and an ecumenist in a time of confessional hostility and division, Erasmus tried to apply the principles of peace and love to the fractious world in which he lived. (76)
Reading Scripture with the Reformers is (obviously) a scholarly book, but don’t let that adjective dissuade you from reading it. I came away from this book with new historical insight and a renewed appreciation for the written Word of God.
—Timothy George, Reading Scripture with the Reformers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011).