- Paperback: 332 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 8, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631189475
- ISBN-13: 978-0631189473
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture 1st Edition
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From Library Journal
This biography by the young yet amazingly prolific scholar of the Reformation ably combines historical narrative and theological interpretation. McGrath refuses the reductionistic temptation to isolate one central doctrine within Calvin's thought (such as predestination), contending instead that the Reformer's humanistic sympathies eschewed such rigid systematizing. In compelling fashion he argues both that Calvin must be understood as primarily a religious thinker and that his world-affirming outlook launched an international social and economic revolution comparable only to Marxism of the 20th century. McGrath acknowledges that his subject is a private, enigmatic figure, but thanks to this study he is perhaps a little less so. A very readable book, far more balanced than William Bouwsma's more psychological profile, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait ( LJ 10/1/87).
- John R. Muether, Reformed Theological Seminary, Maitland, Fla.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A most welcome study filling a real need for a scholarly biography that is historically sensitive and theologically well-informed." Religious Studies Review
"Not since Wendel's Calvin has one volume given as much breadth and depth to the life and thought of Calvin as this one... A splendid resource for both novices and Calvin scholars. McGrath's work will endure as a balanced, sensitive, historical-theological treatment." Sixteenth Century Journal
"A full range of Calvin students and scholars will be grateful for this book. Wide in scope, detailed in coverage, yet clear in focus, McGrath's work will find a secure niche for many years to come." Christianity Today
"A Skillful combination of biography, theology and history. A number of maps, charts and (monochrome) reproductions of paintings and other art works enhance the attractiveness of this handsome volume, which should serve students as a useful and readable introduction to John Calvin's life and times." Critical Review
"An absorbing study. It cannot be stated too strongly that Beyond Borders deserves high praise. Better than any other book known to the author." The Expository Times
"The best study of Calvin in English." Teaching History
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Top customer reviews
"The stories of Calvin's miseries at Geneva during his second period have been told so often and so well that it would serve little purpose to repeat them."
I laughed in ironic frustration after I read this passage since the whole point of my getting this book was to learn just what happened in Calvin's life. McGrath is clearly an excellent scholar in this book, but he certainly did not write a typical "biography".
Also, I should note that this book is also highly technical. If you are not into scholarly historical language or you do not have a background in historical and theological studies you may find yourself easily lost. So this is not a good "layperson" or "introductory" book on Calvin.
McGrath does his best to take a relatively "neutral" historical position on the content (though I believe he is a dedicated Christian in his own background if I remember correctly), so you won't find any Calvin "loving" or "hating" in this book.
If you are looking for a good general biography on Calvin, I would suggest T.H.L. Parker's John Calvin: A Biography. I am almost finished this book and it has been excellent. It is readable and not too long. He is thorough and fair in his treatment, he also provides clear information that would dispel many of the myths of the more modern portrayals of Calvin which show him to be the "Dictator of Geneva" and a calloused "Burner of Heretics". He also clearly has a fondness for Calvin and his work, which is not excessive, but refreshing for readers of a Christian background who appreciate this man and his contribution to their faith. I am also going to read Godfrey's Biography as well, since it has had good reviews, but I believe this book is more about Calvin's theology than the details of his life.
Happy Reading!!! Hope this has been helpful!!!
Second, someone loaned me the book about eight months ago and I put it on my library shelf thinking, I'll get to it one day. Then, one day, months later, I picked up the book, a spark of interest entered a few neurons, and I couldn't put the book down. The book is fabulous, way more than I expected! Here's why. I have heard the good, the bad and the ugly about Calvin because I attend a Reformed church. I've read a lot of other stuff and never had much of an interest in Calvin personally, but I have used Calvin's Commentaries in my own studies and classes and I have read some of Calvin's Sermons. So, I am not altogether unfamiliar with Calvin's thought and I believe his view of scripture, the culminating posthumous development of TULIP as what most people regard as his legacy, is very accurate -- although many would strongly challenge my statement concerning accuracy.
Lastly, the book is excellent because it didn't just focus on Calvin but gave a lot of the nuances of the French and Swiss history in the 16th century. That is like adding extra garlic to the great cuisine. I love garlic! Just for the fact that so much good history of France is in the book I encourage anyone wanting to understanding the early Reformation. One thing that Calvin developed and it really means a lot for believers, in God's infinite nature, wisdom and power, etc., God accommodated (lowered Himself) mankind and wrote a book, namely the Bible, with reference to who God is. Since man is finite, God must accommodate us so that we can know Him. God has done so many times, accommodated man, in the history of the world, most excellently in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.