Review Date: 10/31/2011 by Shaun Tabatt
Rating: Highly Recommended
I had the privilege of growing up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and have appreciated the top notch Bible and church history resources that Concordia Publishing House (publisher of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) has produced through the years. Over the past decade, I have especially been impressed with the efforts they have put into books for children and teens. Some of my favorites include ‘The Real Story of the Exodus’ (CPH, 2011), ‘The Real Story of the Flood’ (CPH, 2008), and Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed the World (CPH, 2004). Building on this legacy of combining quality artwork with good writing, CPH has recently released their first graphic novel titled Luther: Echoes of the Hammer.
Luther: Echoes of the Hammer is a biography covering the life of the great reformer Martin Luther from his birth in 1483 to his death in 1546. The novel is divided into five parts:
Part 1: Luther’s Early Years covers the following events: birth in Eisleben, early education, roadside experience and vow to become a monk, entering the Augustinian order, more advanced education, ordination as priest, trip to Rome, “tower experience” where Luther found assurance of God’s forgiveness in Romans 1:16-17, and nailing of the ninety-five theses on to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg.
Part 2: Luther the Heretic covers the following events: Luther’s 95 theses get the attention of Pope Leo, Luther’s refusal to recant gets him labeled as a heretic, Luther is protected by Frederick the Wise, Charles of Spain is elected as Holy Roman Emperor, and Pope Leo threatens to excommunicate Luther via papal bull, Pope Leo asks the Holy Roman Emperor to sign a death warrant for Luther.
Part 3: Luther the Outlaw covers the following events: Diet of Worms, Luther kidnapped and taken into hiding at Wartburg Castle, Luther changes his appearance and is known as “Knight George” while he is in hiding, Luther translates the New Testament into German, Luther comes out of hiding to restore order, the Great Peasant’s War, John the Steadfast continues to protect Luther after the death of his broth Frederick the Wise, Luther writes the small catechism, and Luther reforms worship services to include singing, the Lord’s supper and services that are in German rather than Latin.
Part 4: Martin and Katie covers the following events: Luther helps 12 nuns escape from the convent at Grimma, Luther marries Katharina Von Bora, the Luther’s have six children, and Luther’s health suffers from his extreme workload and travel schedule.
Part 5: The Reformation Continues covers the following events: Diet of Augsburg, Luther begins the tenuous process of translating the Old Testament into German, The Holy Roman Emperor is unsuccessful in getting the “Lutherans” to rejoin the Catholic church, Luther’s parents die, the Bubonic plague, Luther writs the Smalcald Articles, Council of Trent, Luther’s health continues to deteriorate, Martin Luther dies on February 18, 1546, and Luther’s works grow even more popular following his death.
Interspersed throughout the book, readers will appreciate the many explanations of Luther’s allies and enemies as well as definitions for key words such as Relics, Electors, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc. that will be unfamiliar to many readers. The last part of the book also includes a comprehensive explanation of Luther’s seal and a detailed timeline giving the historical context of Luther’s life.
Luther: Echoes of the Hammer is an exciting adventure that will help readers to understand why Martin Luther is considered an important reformer and a hero of the church. Excellent writing and beautiful illustrations make this book a joy to read and keep it moving along at a good pace. With the many informational helps included in the book, even readers who are unfamiliar with the terms or people of the reformation period will be able to follow the story with ease. I would highly recommend this book for any reader from the age of 10 all the way up to adult. This book makes for great recreational reading, but could also be used successfully in a homeschool or sunday school setting as well.
Author Susan K. Leigh is an editor and author who lives in a small town in Illinois. She is the author of several children’s picture books, including twelve titles in the popular “God, I Need to Talk to You” series.
Dave Hill graduated from Glasgow School of Art. He has worked in the video game industry for ten years. As a freelance illustrator, Dave’s passion is children’s book and comic books. He lives in Scotland with his wife and their two children.
Where to Buy:
This book was provided by Concordia Publishing House for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
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