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Reformation Studies

A guide to research and research tools for the history and theology of the European Reformations


The Reformation is a large topic and can easily be approached more narrowly according to some major subdivisions to the topic: the Lutheran Reformation, the Swiss (Reformed) Reformation, the Radical Reformation (Anabaptists), the English Reformation, the Catholic Reformation, and the Counter-Reformation. The literature on these is vast, so a thematic approach according to one of these divisions, or by personality, or by doctrine, is advised. Detailed primary-source research can be difficult without a knowledge of German and Latin.

This pathfinder is intended to be a broad, but academic, introduction to research in Reformation studies and is intended for use by graduate-level seminary students.

This guide was developed by Paul Roberts when he served as Director of Patron Services at SBTS.

Locating Books

Subject Headings

The following Library of Congress subject headings may be useful, many of which may be further subdivided geographically:

- Anabaptists.
- Church History — 16th Century.
- Counter-Reformation.
- Europe — History — 1517-1648.
- Radical Reformation.
- Reformation.

Possibly helpful subheadings include:

- Bibliography;
- Biography;
- Causes;
- Controversial Literature;
- Dictionaries;
- Encyclopedias;
- Historiography.

Call Numbers to Browse

Dewey Decimal: 270.6; 940.23 (European History); 943.03 (German History)
Library of Congress: BR300 - BR420

Key People

Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Thomas Cranmer

Important Doctrinal Controversy Keywords

Justification, Sanctification, Sacraments, Authority, Excommunication, Penance.

Note that in some of the polemic literature the term “Counter-Reformation” is not viewed favorably.