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Calvin Hardcover – July 10, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Biographies of figures as controversial as John Calvin tend to be written by unabashed fans or ardent enemies. There is a lot of biography that reads like hagiography and a lot that reads like pure slander. This was the case with Calvin himself and his earliest biographers--either they were his closest confidants, singing his highest praises or they were men who feared and despised him, fabricating outrageous charges against him (such as Jerome Bolsec who, ten years after Calvin's death, wrote an account of the Reformer's life in which he accused him of sodomy and suggested that he had died from crab lice). Even today, many of the biographies seem to focus undue attention on Calvin's great accomplishments without wrestling with his notable faults and foibles. This new biography is an exception as Gordon writes from a position of notable objectivity. He seems a little bit detached from his subject, almost as if he has had to become a somewhat-grudging admirer of Calvin through immersing himself in the man's life. Throughout the book he is willing to credit Calvin for what he did so well but he is also willing to call a spade a spade, whether that means pointing out pride or temper or youthful arrogance.
The greatest strength of Calvin may be the author's deep knowledge of the time in which his subject lived.Read more ›
Gordon, Bruce. Calvin. New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press, 2009.
There is one figure from the reformation that above all intrigues me. His small frame, brilliant intellect, fiery temper, divinely empowered work ethic and zeal for the glory of God in Christ compel me to get to know this man. I was introduced to John Calvin not long after my conversion as my father directed me towards the Heidelberg Catechism and the reformed faith. I found myself agreeing with the doctrines of grace as found in the documents of the Synod of Dordt and ever since have always thought of Calvin as a rich resource. Bruce Gordon’s biography of Calvin came highly recommended by Tim Challies and since its release in 2009 I have vowed to read it. What I found in the book was not so much a window into Calvin’s theology but a door into what shaped the man and the historical context he found himself in. Although it wasn’t what I initially hoped for I think it was exactly what I needed. I have a much more informed understanding of the protestant struggles during the reformation and a different impression of the man Calvin. The biography never tried to make Calvin look better then he truly was. This quote proves that sufficiently: “There’s no doubt he struggled with Anger. However, one of his greatest strengths in his later career was an acute awareness that despite remarkable confidence in his calling and intellect he remained dangerously prone to moments of poor judgment on account of anger.”
There were clear informative gleanings and plenty of inspiration for faithful ministry in these pages.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To give some indication about the subject of this book, I dog-eared a page, 13, and now after re-reading the page don't know why. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cabin Dweller
very thorough and comprehensive but it was perhaps so much so that it did not keep my interest. Perhaps my tolerance for theological debate is limited.Published 17 months ago by Erwin Hargrove
Another book by a university press that I would buy using my meagre graduate student funds, IF the publisher (Yale University Press) had cared to add real page numbers in the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Rajiv Thind
It is the best biography on Calvin I've ever read. Gordon does a great job of taking you inside Calvin's world, giving crucial context for his life. It is a must-read.Published on July 10, 2014 by Justin Williams
This book has good at Calvin's life study for students and scholars. Gordon see Calvin as a humanbeing through correspondence, tracing his life by secondary source. Read morePublished on July 5, 2014 by Seok-hoon Kang