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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Very balanced and informative.

This was a very good performance and subject that not only approached the Reformation as such, but also looked to fit it in the wider world of both its time and ours. It set a good pace and didn't leave the areas of Western Europe alone for long before cycling back.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant, Brilliant!

Would you consider the audio edition of The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era to be better than the print version?

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!

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

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!

Any additional comments?

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!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Sound information, but not engaging.

I struggled to get through, even though this is a subject I typically really enjoy.

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A balanced account of the Reformation Era

Dr. Gregory gives an excellent and well-balanced account of the Reformation Era. Rather than a one-sided account favoring a particular side or view, he gives fair and fairly equal treatment to each of three major sects and their movements: the Magisterial Reformers, the followers of Luther and later Calvin; the Anabaptists and the Radical Reformation, and the Catholic Church. Though having a Catholic background himself, Dr. Gregory shows little partisan bias. He acknowledges problems in the Catholic Church which led to the need for reform. All around, he gives an engaging, fascinating, and enjoyable overview, and helps a listener to understand the events of the Reformation Era as well as the major currents and themes that flow through all the various threads.

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Scholarly and Balanced

This lecture series delivers everything it promises. The best summary of the Reformation I've ever heard. It allows you to see each tradition from within.

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Even-handed and thought provoking

This may be the best of the ten-or-so Great Courses I have listened to. From the beginning, he commits to handling Catholic and Protestant perspectives so that their adherents would recognize themselves, and I think he did admirably. There are no heroes or villains in this story, but many fascinating participants and leaders.
The final lesson may be the very best, as he helps us consider how the Reformation can be seen in our lives today.

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Amazing

These are some of the most insightful and interesting history lectures I've ever heard. I had only heard Protestant perspectives before, but these lectures help us to see the Reformation from multiple angles, including the enduring influences which none of the Reformers desired.

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Comprehensive & Engaging Treatment

A thorough treatment of the material which helped set up a context for the Reformations.

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Easter reading

i loved it
read it during Easter, nicest thing I did today 2015 love it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Admittedly Anti-Catholic

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Protestants and anyone who likes to put down Catholicism and Catholics; a big audience, it seems.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

When the author/narrator/professor stated in the first lesson that the Reformation happened to replace a corrupt Church. While no one disagrees individuals in Church hierarchy, including a number of Popes, had some corrupt practices, and that the Church itself had some systemic corruption, I expected a scholarly review of the facts, issues, key debates, participants, short term outcomes, and longer term impacts, both on Christianity and on the secular world, especially the Western nations (Europe & the Americas) and the Near Eastern nations, where Christianity held prominence. Instead, the opening session expressed an educated (and admittedly biased) opinion of the Reformation. TV & movies already have a big Catholic-bashing party going. So, thanks, but no thanks.

What three words best describe Professor Brad S. Gregory’s performance?

Sadly, academically disappointing.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, BIG TIME.

Any additional comments?

While this does not turn my opinion of Prof. Brad Gregory totally negative (impressive credentials), it makes me critically hesitant with regard to his courses (books articles, etc.). For the future, his work falls far lower on my Audible/Great Courses choice priorities.

6 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. An Te
  • 05-14-17

Fantastic series

It has been very enriching to listen to this set of lectures. Many dates and details are discussed in a coherent framework. It helps me to make more sense of the world we live in today. Context around historical events at the time is superb. It isnt merely about religion alone but how the political, social and social dovetail with religion. An strong lecture series. I shall be sure to listen to more in his series.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-11-17

A thorough learning journey

Excellent series of lectures, by a tutor who obviously knows and loves this subject, and in sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm, brought clarity to this most bewildering subject.