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Reformation Book Recommendations-part 1 (Matthew Barrett)

The next three days I will be taking advantage of Reformation week by highlighting books on the Reformation for both the beginner and the more advanced student. In today’s post I would like to recommend a few books for those who have never read anything on the Reformation. Tomorrow I will follow up with a list for those looking to go deeper. And on Thursday I will highlight some primary sources from the Reformers themselves.

Timothy George. Theology of the Reformers. Revised Edition. Nashville: B&H, 2013.

If I only could recommend one book, this would be it. George’s work is a classic introduction to Reformation thought and this book will be around for years to come.

Plus, there are few who know the Reformers as well as George does. Also, in this revised edition George has added a chapter on William Tyndale. Having read his additional chapter, this revised edition is worth your time and attention.

Stephen Nichols. The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007.

Nichols is one of my favorite authors to read. He makes reading history fun. In the past I have recommended his books to college students especially. And this one on the Reformation is no different. Nichols gives a brief introduction to the various Reformers and their reformations. A great starting point and maybe the first book you should read in this list.

Michael Reeves. The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009.

Another outstanding book, and one that is in the same vein as Nichols’s book, is The Unquenchable Flame, by Michael Reeves. Covering much of the same material, Reeves takes you on a tour of Reformation theology, bouncing from one Reformer to another. Again, another exciting read for the novice.

Stephen Nichols. Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2002.

I have been told by P&R that Nichols’s tour of Luther is one of their best-selling books. I can see why. Nichols captures not only the essence of Luther but his theology as well. If you are intimidated by the larger biographies on Luther, start here.


Roland Bainton. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Hendrickson, 2009.

I am pretty sure it would be a sin not to mention Roland Bainton’s classic biography of Luther. And for good reason too. This book is one of the most famous biographies of Luther, accessible, entertaining, and informative. Bainton paints a picture of the Reformation period in a way you will not forget.

Robert Godfrey. John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009.

With the exception of Luther, there is no Reformation theologian I enjoy reading about more than John Calvin. Calvin’s work of reformation in Geneva is still, to this day, impacting Protestantism around the globe. If you have never read a biography on Calvin, Godfrey’s book is an excellent place to begin. He will only whet your appetite for more…and if I have a say in it, Godfrey will turn you into a Calvinist if you are not one already!

Yes, I know, there are so many others that could be mentioned. But this is a start. Come back tomorrow for more recommendations if you are a serious student of the Reformation!


Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. He is the author of Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration, and several other forthcoming books, which you can read about at

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