Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The individual who first brought the Reformation into full focus was Martin Luther (1483-1546). There are few more controversial personalities in history and few about whom it is less possible to get an unbiased estimate. He has been portrayed as a genial conversationalist fond of good living, as a sensualist who condoned immorality, as a patriotic and courageous prophet, as a moody neurotic, and as a man for whom the encounter with God was overwhelming. The abundant literature from many camps makes clear that Luther was both a giant figure in history and a very complex personality. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section VII: The Protestant Movement. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.