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Michelle DeRusha’s Novel Review

The discussion in this paper will center on the book, The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha. The 320-page book was first published by Baker Publishing Group in January 2017. The book is further divided into 18 chapters, with other additional information contained in the appendix section1. Therefore, the analysis seeks to provide a brief summary of the book by highlighting important issues and themes. Similarly, the discussion will provide a critical interaction with the author’s work based on the following questions: what is the author’s goal? Does the author approve her point? What are the strength and weakness of the author’s argument? And are there any published reviews of this work?

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Brief Summary

DeRusha tells a story of how Luther the monk and Katharina fell in deep love not by physical attraction but out of necessity and principles. The author describes Luther as the good monk, a simple man who experiences a radical change as a result of his strong beliefs about the book of Romans2. Luther’s transformative ideas convinced Katherine to flee the Marienthron convent. When they first met, Katherine openly challenged Luther’s ideas and was strong enough to stand her ground. It was her stubbornness and strength of character that attracted Luther to her3. The author further shows how their relationship transformed the institution of marriage in ways that still exist.

The final chapters of the book focus more on the joys and challenges of family life4. The couple was blessed with six children but later lost two of them, and the loss drew them closer. They never, at any given moment, question the will of God. Luther’s death, which occurred towards the end of the book, exposed the challenges that widows encounter; the irregular Will made life more difficult5.

The most profound theme of the book is that love conquers everything6. Luther and Katherine’s love grew into mutual respect, despite the inequities of genders and “lack of romantic love” (p. 145). They both lived at a time where vows were more important than love. While they may not have been the first couple, they set a high standard for marriage. Katherine’s firm conviction and stubbornness are what compelled Luther to address her as “my kind, dear Lord, Catherine Luther, a doctor and preacher in Wittenberg.”7 This shows how much Luther loved and cared for her.

Critical Interaction with the Author’s Work

DeRusha approached her subject from a biblical point of view. As evidenced in her latest book, she wrestles with her faith just like how Jacob wrangled his blessings out of God8. She believes God made her a questioner and wrestler to connect more authentically with her readers. In this regard, her main goal for writing this book was to offer refreshing insights into the Christian history through the lenses of Luther and Katharina’s marriage. The author ensured the readers perceive Luther as a father and husband, and Katherine as a woman of strong character.

The author proved her point by showing that the foundation of marriage has little to do with physical attraction. By bringing Luther’s love story into the spotlight, the author showed that healthy marriages are built on three pillars: integrity, respect, and endurance. She used Luther’s love life to question the 21st century’s understanding of marriage. Similarly, the strength of the author’s argument lies in her ability to conduct extensive research on the subject. As described in the preface, the research for this book was done at the University of Nebraska’s Library9. There were hundreds of books by and about Martin Luther, which comprised of multiple volumes. The depth of the scholarship on the subject allowed her to identify an area about Luther that had not been covered. Most books focused on his theology, politics, and doctrine, and only few of them highlighted his marriage.

The book has also been reviewed extensively, although most of the material has not been published. One such review was done by Teri Hyrkas. The author shared their perspective on marriage based on personal experience and from the book’s content10. According to the author, Katharina’s marriage to Luther can be used to define clerical marriages and protestant family life. The author further noted that DeRusha’s portrayal of marriage, and the ability of relationships to grow from respect for one another to strong love, aimed at encouraging couples to rethink their priorities. In fact, the book would serve as the best option for a marriage enrichment class.

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Overall, the book would make a big difference in people’s lives, especially ministry pastors. It can provide them with essential resources, particularly on approaching and addressing women in their churches. For instance, pastors will strive to ensure they learn and understand the struggles Katharina encountered and her theological astuteness. Similarly, the book will motivate pastors to address gender issues, a problem which still exists. They will be on the forefront when it comes to championing women’s rights and honestly preach on their God-given dignity.

In conclusion, the author achieved her goal through her ability to use Katharina and Luther’s backgrounds and Luther’s marriage to empower modern-day Christians to change their thinking about marriage. She advised men on how to approach relationships and marriage by following the example of Luther. He stated that “I didn’t love my Kathe at the time, for I regarded her with mistrust as someone proud and arrogant. But it pleased God, who wanted me to take pity on her”11. I admit the book has dramatically shaped my perspective about love and marriage. Similarly, the book has answered the question as to why some marriages fail and others succeed. A simple answer, as evidenced in the book, is that marriages that succeed reflect the following pillars: integrity, respect and endurance.


Cartledge, Mark J., and Mark A. Jumper, eds. The Holy Spirit and the Reformation Legacy. Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2020.

DeRusha, Michelle. Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk. Michigan: Baker Books, 2017.

Hyrkas, Teri. Katharina and Martin review. Wisconsin: Preach the Story, 2019.


  1. DeRusha, Michelle, Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk. (Michigan:Baker Books, 2017): 275
  2. DeRusha, Michelle. Katharina and Martin Luther. (Michigan: Baker Books, 2017), 68
  3. DeRusha, 136-149.
  4. DeRusha, 213-224
  5. DeRusha, 246
  6. Corinthians 13:7
  7. DeRusha, 149
  8. Cartledge, Mark J., and Mark A. Jumper, eds. The Holy Spirit and the Reformation Legacy. (Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2020), 15
  9. DeRusha, 15
  10. Hyrkas, Teri. Katharina and Martin review. (Wisconsin: Preach the Story, 2019), 3
  11. DeRusha, 15

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