Oliver K. Olson
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Probably more than any other second-generation Lutheran reformer, Matthias Flacius Illyricus (1520 – 1575) has remained in relative obscurity, not because of some sort of barely discernable footprint upon the 16th century, but because of the implications of both his seminal and massive contributions to the field of Lutheran hermeneutics, church history, and liturgical theology that continue to challenge the received historical narrative of the era. Whether or not such academic neglect can be attributed to the Istrian (Croatian) origin of Flacius, or simply to a more common interest in the more well-known German and Swiss reformers, Dr. Oliver K. Olson’s Matthias Flacius and the Survival of Luther’s Reform fills this long-unoccupied void—especially in the English language—and thus brings to modern students of the Reformation a long-needed fresh perspective. Olson’s work not only brings to light a pivotal figure in the developments of the Reformation, but does so with a method that draws the reader into the period, using a multitude of sources—many reproduced graphically—that normally are not found in such a volume. The narrative—more a series of vignettes than one laborious chapter of minutia after another—introduces the myriad of social, political, racial, and theological circumstances that were 16th century Europe, and in so doing, constantly raises fresh and intriguing questions about key events and documents that the next generation of researchers in the field will be challenged to answer. Copious bibliographies not only of sources and literature for the study of Flacius, but for the Reformation in general make this volume an invaluable resource: Especially in this time of instant access to resources all over the world via the internet. It is nothing less than a roadmap through a highly complex array of people, places and events to which both the student and the scholar will refer again and again.