Source readers can be interesting barometers of how certain fields have changed over the years. Margaret King’s Reformation Thought is an intriguing case in point as it effectively illustrates how our understanding of the Reformation world has shifted in at least two significant ways. First is an expanded chronology. King has selected texts ranging from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Though the bulk of her sources do come from the familiar territory of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, she does push the chronological boundaries by including excerpts from Jan Hus and Thomas à Kempis at one end and John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards at the other. The second distinctive feature is the determined effort on her part to include a broad range of voices. Though she devotes entire chapters to both Desiderius Erasmus and Martin Luther, she has worked very hard to include texts written by ordinary men and women from the era. Of the forty-one authors she selected, eleven of them are women. Alongside Luther, John Calvin, and Ignatius Loyola, we have wives of pastors, Anabaptist women martyred for their faith, and shoemaker theologians. The manner in which she has arranged this material, however, adheres to a rather traditional model. She has divided her sources into ten thematic chapters that follow a rough chronological order. Two cover the pre-Luther period. Six focus primarily on sixteenth century developments including chapters on Radicals, Swiss reformers, and the English Reformation while a final two push the chronological envelope as they explore overseas developments and reverberations of the Reformation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Each of the chapters comes with a short but useful introduction to the authors and their respective texts. There is also a final section that includes helpful bibliographical references. Though there are a number of Reformation readers on the market today, King’s volume is a welcome addition. Her selections are judicious, and the breadth that she offers distinguishes Reformation Thought from some of its competitors.
Indianapolis: Hackett, 2016. Pp. xvii + 227. Pb. $19.
The one question I would raise concerns length of passages. There is a general trend today to produce anthologies with shorter selections. Most in King’s volume average two to three pages. I prefer assigning students longer passages, but this is a personal choice every instructor must make. For readers looking for Jesuit material there are only two short sources in the volume: a letter from Loyola to Peter Canisius and a report from Francis Xavier to his colleagues in Rome concerning his work in India. Finally, Hackett Publishing should be commended for their commitment to producing primary source anthologies at an attractive price point. Indeed, the price alone makes the volume well worth considering for any course on the Reformation world.