The Protestant Reformation was one of the major turning points in the intellectual social development of Western civilization, and Martin Luther was one of the most influential and fascinating figures in the history of that period. For these reasons, many anthologies of primary source documents have been produced for the study of the early sixteenth century and the life and thought of Luther. That fact remains, however, that anyone seeking to acquire an accurate understanding of the Christian reform movement Luther initiated, an ecclesiastical tradition that has endured down to the present day as Lutheranism, cannot define attention to so narrow a focus.
Some of the most distinctive and durable features of Lutheran thought and practice had not yet been fully worked out by the time of the reformer's death and Luther himself was not the only significant force in the formation of the religious identity of his followers. This book has brought together primary sources from documents from the two and a half centuries of Lutheran history, illustrating how it evolved from its start in the Reformation to the next major period of revolutionary change in Europe, the Enlightement.