This was the headline in the "Deutschland Edition" 2/2017 on "Religion and Peace". It illustrates the colourful past of the Reformation and the illustrious Reformer, who wrote extensively and left behind a huge legacy. We want to get started on the Lutheran Catechisms, but before that we'll get into the biography of Dr. Martin Luther in some broad outlines. He himself judged his catechisms to be right at the top of his most significant contributions - up there with the partisan "De servio arbitrio" addressing the humanist Erasmus, who tried to compromise on all fronts and was left with nothing. The Catechisms are the most wide spread legacy of Lutheran theology worldwide due to the initial baptismal preparation and ongoing catechetical instruction in the universal church and global missions. That's why it's worthwhile getting into those and they are a good starting point - easy enough for the beginner and demanding enough for the professional too.
To start off this brief introduction to Lutheran theology and subsequently his two volumened catechism, let me point out some significant biographies and relevant studies to sketch the background for these seminal works of the venerable Doctor, written just a bit more than a decade after the Reformation in the Catholic Church was started by the Luther's recovery and ardent proclamation of the pure gospel from 1517 onward. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation has added some wonderful volumes to the already impressive lineup put together previously in the "Luther Handbuch" edited by Albrecht Beutel.
Martin Brecht: Martin Luther. 3 volumes: 1. His road to reformation (1483-1521) 2. Shaping and defining the Reformation (1521-1532) and 3. The preservation of the church (1532-1546). This work from the last century is still the standard of Luther biographies and highly recommendable even in the translation.
Another classic is the work by the Leipzig professor and Luther scholar Dr. Helmar Junghans: Wittenberg & Luther, which has been edited and republished by Edition Akanthus for the 500th anniversary. This is a very special book in it's clarity of diction and beautiful presentation.
To top up this basic introduction to Dr. Martin Luther we resort to the secular historian Heinz Schilling's: Rebel in an Age of Upheaval, which he wrote in 2013 and thereby opend the floodgates of new biographies for the 500th anniversary. There are lots of enlightening volumes out there. Here are some of those, I more or less liked. Feel free to choose some to get into the very rewarding subject matter.
There are some brilliant encycopedic introductions to the Reformation too. I've pointed out Helmar Junghans already. His collection for the 500th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther's birthday in 1983 remains a good starting point, but a more recent volume is the Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, but also the Oxford Encyclopeida of Martin Luther and the Reformation. Or check out, what the Encyclopedia Brittanica writes in its article on Martin Luther. For our topic the Oxford Handbook of Martin Luther's Theology is most helpful and relatively affordable too.