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Review

Bitesize Biography – Girolamo Savonarola

By Douglas McComas
January 2015 | Review by Kerry Orchard
  • Publisher: EP Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-78397-001-8
  • Pages: 144
  • Price: 6.99

Book Review

Bitesize Biography – Girolamo Savonarola
Douglas Bond & Douglas McComas
EP Books
144, £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-78397-001-8
Star Rating: 3

Girolamo Savonarola

Douglas Bond & Douglas McComas

EP Books, 144 pages, £6.99, ISBN: 978-1-78397-001-8

Prior to reading this book, the name Girolamo Savonarola was known to me, but the more I read, the more I realised how much more there was to learn.

The Bitesize Biographyseries performs a valuable service of bringing us up to scratch with our church history. The authors, Douglas Bond and Douglas McComas, have done their research well and write in a clear and interesting way.

What does one make of the subject of the book? Savonarola was of a generation before Luther and an outspoken critic of (though never leaving) the Roman Catholic Church.

His was a prophetic voice, majoring on condemnation of the sin of the political and church leaders and the dissolute lifestyle of 15th century Florence. He was, perhaps, a Jeremiah or John the Baptist of his day, thundering out a fiery message of repentance and condemnation. Martin Luther, for one, held him in high regard.

He is an enigmatic figure, though clearly brave and incorruptible. What is one to make of his emphasis on prophecy (of the foretelling sort) and his immersion in the politics of the day? He lived over 500 years ago and, crucially, before the Reformation cleared away the fog of sacramentalism. It is easy to pick faults from our vantage point in the 21st century.

The authors suggest that, in his final days, Savonarola seemed to attain a clearer understanding of the grace of the gospel before bravely dying a martyr’s death.

So was he a born-again Christian, who, under God, helped pave the way for the great European Reformation and revival? I believe so, but this book is careful not to eulogise its subject, making clear how Savonarola made serious mistakes.

Yet, in an era when Scripture’s message was largely hidden, he preached the message of the Bible. Hebrews 11 reminds us of many men and women of faith with feet of clay.

Who should read this book? It might confuse an unbeliever and even a young Christian. A mature Christian could read it with profit.

Kerry Orchard

Cardiff

 

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