The book by Vergilius Ferm, Pictorial History of Protestantism, a Panoramic View of Western Europe and the US, was published in 1957. Since that time the book became highly popular not only among people who profess Protestantism, but also among historians, and other people who deal with such spheres of knowledge as religion, history, culture, art, etc. During his life, Professor Vergilius Ferm dedicated many books to the questions of philosophy, culture, and religion. That s why, it is natural that the Pictorial History of Protestantism, a Panoramic View of Western Europe and the US contains information that refers to all these spheres.
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The author of the book was not only a lecturer and ahead of the department of Philosophy, but also an editor, which is seen in the style of the book. The author demonstrates profound knowledge in all spheres which are uncovered in the book. Although it is obvious from the text that Vergilius Ferm was a religious person: “When a creed was drawn up, he reinforced it by setting a penalty of political banishment upon any dissenter a new chapter in the history of the Church. This served to set off anew many pathetic civil wars within the Church” (Ferm 234), the author presents different viewpoints to make readers realize the context in which different events took place. The author’s style is highly pretentious. For example, when Vergilius Ferm describes Marco Polo and his role in the destiny of Christianity, he says: “helped fire of the European hunger for trade with the East” (Ferm 117). Such style does not suggest any difficulty in the process of reading and comprehension. All facts are represented clearly, and the author’s position is not imposed on a reader.
What is the most attractive in the book is, of course, the way information is presented. Ferm provides readers with object lessons by the means of attractive and impressive illustrations which cannot but draw viewers’ and readers’ attention. The book is prolifically illustrated and the main spice in this design is that photographs which are included in the book are amazing. It is presented in the title of the book, but one will not understand the efficiency of illustrated narration until he/she takes the book and reads it. Moreover, pictures in the book represent detailed information not only about Protestantism history. One may use it to enrich his/her knowledge about the culture of Protestants, as well as about some cultural phenomenon of various epochs. For example, it was very interesting for me to look at the costumes design of various epochs. I like the approach the author uses as long as it is beneficial from various points of view. Firstly, vivid pictures attract students’ attention, make reading more interesting as well as facilitate it. It is very important both, for teachers and students. Secondly, the book represents not only historical information but also a wealth of pictorial documentation of the Protestantism foundation and development which may be used for different, academic and non-academic purposes. Such images provide students with the opportunity to feel the spirit; reading such a book is more informative and presents more substantial research as long as it offers various spheres of provided facts. Visual images are very informative, especially if they are accompanied by facts. I saw an edition of the book with two people on the cover: a young girl and an old man, they are turning behind with scared and tense expressions on their faces. The covering picture represents their dynamic and strained postures. Their hands lay on a book as if they want to protect it. It seems they are very afraid of something. Maybe, there is another person who knocks at their doors or enters the room. The picture is vivid as if its author caught some moment of history through his/her viewfinder and represented on the cover. I looked at the picture for several minutes and a real plot appeared in my mind. The picture, accompanied with the title-words “Pictorial History of Protestantism” easily gave me several hints concerning the book’s content and its peculiarities. The book indeed included detailed information about the beginning and development of Protestantism. It explained main denominations and guidelines as well as described the process of Protestantism’s foundation. Though I did not like the style of the author, I think that it was presupposed by cultural and professional peculiarities of the author’s life experience. Indeed, even a child may be attracted by such illustrations and looking at them, start reading comments and thereby, find out many interesting facts from the history of Protestantism. The book contains pictures of priests, historical figures, modest houses, paintings, landscapes, and other kinds of illustrative materials. Thereby, the author’s book contains not only vivid images, such as cited above but also informative and attractive illustrations which make the book more attractive for the wide public in general and me in particular.
Ferm, Vergilius. Pictorial History of Protestantism a Panoramic View of Western Europe and the United States. New York: Bramhall House a Division of Clarkson Potter. Print.