One of the joys of being a student, a life-long student, that is, and a teacher is the “forced necessity” of reading and studying. I never had a college class that focused merely upon the Renaissance and Reformation, but I think I have done enough self-imposed homework in those areas to claim my credit hours. On the other hand, I am willing to accept a bad grade with the necessity of going back and doing the studies again, rereading some of the best works and reading other works for the first time.
I have commented upon the writings of many historians and authors in these recent blogs covering Reformation Month–October. I started this quest to learn about the Reformation back in the fall of 1974 when I first learned of John Calvin in a class covering colonial American history. In time, over the next year or so, I became, like Luther, “captive to the Word of God” and captive to the history of the Reformation. All history points in two directions, so I have also felt the need to study church history before Luther and church history since the Reformation.
Several years ago, I was at an education conference where I got to hear the author and Christian thinker Gene Edward Veith and got to visit with the historian George Thompson. Somewhere in the midst of this Lutheran dominated conference (where the Thompsons and Houses were the sole Presbyterians), the name of Professor Lewis W. Spitz came up and then came up again. It was one of those embarassing moments when I felt the need to run out of the conference in tears. Instead, I came home and began acquiring some of Dr. Spitz’s books.
The Renaissance and Reformation Movements is a two volume set designed as textbooks for college students. Some of the maps and pictures have the look of older textbooks. By that, I mean that these two books aren’t glossy and high tech. These books came out a good while back, but it is the breadth and content that gives them their value. The author, Dr. Spitz, was a highly loved teacher and an accomplished scholar. He was a Lutheran with deep ties to the American mid-west.
The first volume of Lewis Spitz’s two volume set is about the Renaissance. This study of the Renaissance was quite comprehensive in its coverage of men and movements. I confess to often relegating the Renaissance to being just a bunch of talented Italian painters and sculptors who were sitting in art class while Luther and Calvin were kids waiting to grow up and change the world. There were numerous political and social events that created the environment for the artistic side of the Renaissance. The period is quite rich.