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Ancient and Modern

M.A. Screech, 19 November 1981

Masters of the Reformation: The Emergence of a New Intellectual Life in Europe 
by Heiko AugustinusOberman, translated by Dennis Martin.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £22.50, June 1981, 0 521 23098 5
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Montaigne 
by Peter Burke.
Oxford, 96 pp., £5.50, October 1981, 9780192875235
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... Does Luther explain Hitler? Oberman, an international Dutchman at home in Tuebingen, asks the question only to toss it aside: the Reformation was not a ‘German tragedy’. Into this English version of Werden und Wertung der Reformation he interpolates an abrupt sentence: ‘The appalling experiences of the Third Reich incline historians to assume that what went wrong with the Reformation was Luther’s sell-out to the princes’ – which supposedly led to a German tendency to give the last word in politics or morals, not to the individual or the Church, but to the collective and the State ...

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