I have lived with Martin Luther for 76 years, since I was christened with the reformer’s name. My father was a Lutheran teacher and organist. Lutheran chorales have provided the cantus firmus for my life. But in only in the past few years, as I worked on a short biography of Luther, did the reformer become a constant companion.
When I told people what I was working on, they invariably expressed curiosity but also strong opinions, often drawing on modern stereotypes of Luther. Their reactions were useful, since they taught me some of the ways Luther is viewed these days. I had to decide which of the different accounts of Luther I was going to focus on, and which Luther I would have as my primary companion.