New: Peter Martyr Vermigli For Children

In our age of screens (phones, tablets, computers, watches etc) it is counter-intuitive but nonetheless true to say that books are more important than they have been for a long time. They are more important precisely because our culture is drifting away from the medium of the book, from the content, and from the discipline of reading texts longer than 140 characters. Good books are particularly important for children. Despite the attraction of text on screen (e.g., searching) and the increasing capacity for interaction (e.g., via touch screens) still books remain a superior way to learn. There is still something about holding the book and turning the pages that allows the reader to interact with the text more profoundly than is ordinarily possible on-screen. One evidence of this is that When I am editing or proofing a typescript for publication I do it on paper and not on screen. The eye does not see typos on screen as readily as it does on paper.

Whether this is inherent to screens and paper or cultural I do not know but whatever the case we may be thankful for the excellent work of Simonetta Carr, a remarkably skilled and productive writer. For several years she has been producing excellent Christian biographies for children. Her latest is a biography of Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562). He might be the most important figure of the Protestant Reformation of whom you may have never heard. He was a Roman Catholic theologian, who was highly respected within the Roman Catholic communion in the 16th century, in Italy, who read Protestant writers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin and became convinced of the truth of Reformation doctrines and who was able, for a time, to teach those insights from Scripture within the Roman communion.

I will not spoil the story. You will enjoy reading this as much as your children (or students) and you will learn right along with them. You might even decide to read some of Vermigli’s works (several of which have been translated into English)  for yourself. Reformers such as John Calvin (Geneva), Zacharias Ursinus (Heidelberg), Heinrich Bullinger (Zürich), and many in Oxford heard, read, and benefited from his work. We have a wonderful heritage of theology, piety, and practice in the Reformed tradition and Peter Martyr is a significant part of our tradition. Because of his travels and wide contacts his biography necessarily brings the reader into contact with a wide swath of the figures and events of the sixteenth-century Reformation. In this the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, it is good to have this introduction to Peter Martyr and to the Italian Reformation.

This series from Reformation Heritage Books is well produced on good paper with beautiful photographs and artwork. This series also includes volumes on Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, John Knox, Owen, Lady Jane Grey, Marie Durand, and Jonathan Edwards. This volume and series will be a valuable addition to a home, church, or school library.

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