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Marc M. Arkin


May 01, 2016

Luther by the book

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther, 1529, Augsburg In March of 1518, Desiderius Erasmus sent his good friend Sir Thomas More a curious document that had recently come his way. It was the program for an academic event that was to have been staged four months earlier in a backwater university in an out-of-the-way north German town under the rule of the Ernestine branch of the Wettin Saxon Dukes.

A review of Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe--and Started the Protestant Reformation by Andrew Pettegree

February 01, 2016

A man well worth knowing

Augustine of Hippo is the person in the ancient world about whom we know the most; after sixteen hundred years we still follow the nuances of his developing thought through his voluminous writings. We trace his journey from the provincial North African town of Thagaste, where he was born, through his public career in the great metropolises of Carthage, Rome, and Milan, and then back to North Africa as a Christian ascetic.

A review of Augustine: Conversions to Confessions by Robin Lane Fox

December 01, 2014

Awaking the theologian

In the winter of 1734, a remote backwater of the British Empire suddenly found itself at the center of God’s great plan for redemption. As the good news made its way through the trans-Atlantic evangelical grapevine, all Protestantism trained its gaze on Northampton, Massachusetts—a stockaded frontier town of roughly 1,200 souls, nestled on the edge of Indian territory in the distant reaches of the Connecticut River Valley—where a religious awakening had ignited and then spread to the neighboring towns and villages, an event as wondrous as it was inexplicable.

A review of Jonathan Edwards: Writings from the Great Awakening (Library of America) by Jonathan Edwards,Philip F. Gura

March 01, 2013

Liar, liar

Even by modern standards, the years that marked the administrations of Presidents Washington and Adams—from 1788 to 1800—were a time of ferocious partisanship in American political life. The nation was torn between those championing ties with Great Britain—tarred by their enemies as monarchists—and those seeking shelter under the wing of France—accused by their opponents of advocating a degree of popular rule that would inevitably lead to despotism.

A review of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham