...Douglas McComas, my friend and colleague and founder of INKBLOTS! This is my first co-authored book, and what a delightful experience it has been to collaborate on it. The book was originally to be part of the short biography series published by Evangelical Press (EP) in the UK, with Michael Haykin in the role of series editor (the same series as my biography on Augustus Toplady). Publishing can be a dicey business at times, so we'll see about its future in the weeks ahead.
We found Savonarola's life fascinating. He was one of the pre-Reformers God raised up in the 15th-century to prepare the way for men like Luther and Calvin in the Reformation. But it was a rough time for him.
As we read Savonarola, we fell in love with this flawed but deeply passionate lover of Christ. How could we not from a man who prayed like this, “O Lord! Arise, and come to deliver thy Church from the hands of devils, from the hands of tyrants, from the hands of iniquitous prelates.”
And who wrote in his prison meditations the night before his martyrdom, “Do you have faith? Yes I have it. Good: this is a great grace of God, for faith comes of his gift, not of your works, that no one may glory in them.” And that from the pen of a Dominican friar. Though not fully orbed in his theology, we found Savonarola not only to be on a trajectory away from medieval synergism, but growing clearer and clearer about the doctrines of free grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What an exciting, dangerous, and tragic life, but ultimately what a triumphant one. All by grace alone, with his mind and heart riveted on Christ Jesus alone.
To release SEPTEMBER, 2013 (or, as was). Audio excerpt coming soon...
"--WOW!! What a story! I was wondering when you’d be getting the screenplay done for the movie. Beats even the better sort of movie out today! I could almost see it playing in my mind’s eye, sweeping views of beautiful Florence and its grimy streets.
And I would say, that is one of the defining strengths of the book – it really does come alive in colors and sounds and all the panorama of 15th-century Italy, from the grit of the alleys to the vibrancy of personalities and arts and medieval city movement.
As well, your portrayal of Savonarola himself succeeded in that test of a multi-dimensional figure, towering in his allegiance to Christ and cross but yet flawed, a bit irascible yet brilliant, fervent yet failing according to –well, Machiavellian standards. Fascinating!"
Timeline of Girolamo Savonarola
1452 Born in Ferrara, Italy, the same year as Leonardo da Vinci
1453 Fall of Constantinople to the Turks
1470 Enters university in Bologna
1475 Enters Dominican monastery in Bologna
1481 Fails as preacher in Florence
1482 Leaves the monastery for Lombardy
1483 Birth of Martin Luther
1490 Called to Florence by Lorenzo Medici
1491 Becomes Prior of San Marco
1492 Lorenzo dies; Piero Medici assumes power
1492 Columbus discovers America
1494 King Charles VIII of France invades Italy
1495 Republic re-established in Florence
1497 Bonfire of the Vanities
1498 Ordeal by fire and arrest (March)
1498 Imprisonment and torture (April)
1498 Hanged and burned (May)
...SAVONAROLA’S WORLD reads like the guest list at a royal banquet, a veritable who’s who of celebrated personages. He breathed the air of the famous and the infamous, the notable and the notorious, the gifted and the great.
Born in Ferrara in 1452, he shared a birth year with Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. As Savonarola’s mother labored to deliver her son, Ghiberti was completing the bronze doors of the Florentine baptistery, dubbed the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo.
When Savonarola was taking his first halting steps, Johann Gutenberg was casting the final type for his printing press in Mainz, and when he was in his terrible twos, first editions of the Gutenberg Bible were available for purchase. Then, when peach fuzz was showing on Savonarola’s upper lip, the “Prince of Humanists,” Erasmus of Rotterdam, was born. Banking tycoon Lorenzo de Medici began his lavish rule of Florence when Savonarola would have been old enough to get his driver’s license. Significantly, 1469 also marked the birth of the Florentine codifier of pragmatic politics, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527).
A medical student at Bologna when Copernicus was born in 1473, Savonarola was twenty-five when Caxton printed Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in England; author of Utopia, Sir Thomas More, was born a year later. While Savonarola delivered his first halting sermons in Florence, Botticelli was painting frescoes in Rome. In 1483, when Savonarola was thirty-one, Martin Luther was born in Eisleben. Preaching through Genesis in Florence in 1492, Savonarola may have gotten wind of Columbus’s first voyage of discovery to the New World, though the death of Lorenzo di Medici and the transfer of power to his son may have kept him from giving the event much thought.
Two years later, according to Savonarola’s prophecy, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, Pope Alexander VI fleeing for his life. In Savonarola’s final years in Florence, da Vinci was busy painting his masterpiece, The Last Supper. And while Savonarola wrote his Prison Meditations in the tower of Palazzo Vecchio, Michelangelo was chiseling the final details on his Pieta in Rome.