Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Meeting Dr. Paul Maier

This last Saturday the Lutheran church closest to us hosted a seminar featuring Professor Dr. Paul L. Maier. Dr. Maier is professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. He is the author of a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction. The one of his I read was Flames Of Rome, a documentary historical fiction about the early church era following events in the book of Acts. Well, I think it covered more than just that time, but Maier's purpose was to give some perspective to the years following Acts.

That was an excellent book, and I've always wanted to read more of his. Another of his that we had was A Skeleton In God's Closet, a novel. Our son has it, and I don't know if we'll ever get it back. Maier has written some academic books as well, such as an abridgement/translation of the works of Josephus, and a modern translation of the church history written by Eusebius. We bought that one on Saturday, as well as Maier's sequel novel More Than A Skeleton. These are pretty far down the reading pile right now, but I'll eventually get to them.

Maier's seminar topic was Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Working only from an outline that he gave to the class, Maier gave us 4 1/2 hours of informed, animated, interesting lecture. My is he a good speaker! I realize he has probably given this lecture before, and knows it quite well, but still the presentation was just incredible.

Most of us have studied some of the Reformation in school, and our Protestant churches may say a little bit each year on Reformation Sunday. But detailed information is generally lacking in most of our education and experience. I read a biography about Luther, from our public library, about ten years ago, but it didn't stick with me very well. Consequently, some of what Maier said was familiar, but most of it was like new material. I think I understand what Luther went through, just how much danger he was in, and how much he truly accomplished.

As a side note, the lecture included some thoughts of how the printing press helped to fuel the rapid dispersal of information. This kind of confirms thoughts behind a book I've been planning to write. Unfortunately, it's way, way down the writing list, which is tossed aside right now while life gives no time for writing. Oh, well, retirement is now only 8 years, 1 month, and 26 days away, assuming our elected officials don't screw it all up in the meantime.

If you have a chance to hear Dr. Maier lecture, don't pass it up. Consider reading his books. I don't think you will be disappointed.


Anonymous said...

Did Dr. Maier mention that contrary to common practice at the time, Luther specifically willed some of his possessions to Katharina von Bora, his wife? -Gary

David A. Todd said...

No, he didn't. He didn't say much about Luther's married life, except that it was the prototype for the modern Protestant parsonage--something I had picked up from the bio I read.